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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Taking a Seat (or Two)

Emily and I knew our beach vacation would have to share mental space with the Mets, the Phillies and assorted opponents of the day. But yesterday I found myself pursuing another order of business — one I never thought would move me to action. I found myself on mets.com, ordering a pair of Shea Stadium seats.

If you're a veteran reader of this little blog, you probably know I'm not sentimental about Shea Stadium. I love the team that calls it home, of course, and any wedge of green grass and tan dirt used for the most beautiful game in the world will get a happy sigh from me. (Last fall, coming back from a long trip to Europe, the plane dipped down over Vermont, New Hampshire and upstate New York; looking down, I grinned broadly to once again see baseball diamonds — whether razor-edged and immaculate, vaguely diamond-shaped, or totally overgrown — dotting the landscape.) I have lots of wonderful memories of Shea, but they have to do with games and players and friends — to paraphrase Tom Seaver, the architecture's not part of them. Between its rusting beams, sticky floors, exploding bathrooms, sleeping vendors, bad food, and surly Aramark drones, Shea resembles a North Korean government building that happens to have a baseball game in the middle of it. I respect my friends who feel differently, but so long as the game is still played nearby, I won't exactly be sad to see the building go.

So given all that, what was I doing agreeing to shell out more than $900 for a pair of plastic seats from the old barn? Particularly when I'm in an, um, career transition? (Do you need a vocation to be on vacation?)

Practically speaking, I thought of our backyard deck and how it would be simple to take up a couple of boards of Trex, bolt down two seats and reassemble things. The seats would add a little character to the place, and we were always hauling plastic chairs back there for people to sit on anyway. People would get a kick out of the Shea seats, and run no risk of falling backwards into the vinca after a few too many, as has been known to happen with plastic chairs and the uncharted edge of the deck. As for Emily, she kind of shrugged at the idea — you might describe her as “accepting,” “acquiescent,” “indulgent” or even “resigned,” but she wasn't “opposed.”

But of course “practically speaking” never has much to do with the question of why one is buying expensive surplus baseball-park seats. So what was I doing?

I suppose it's this: While I'm happy about CitiField, I don't pretend that it won't mark a new era in the history of the baseball team I've followed my whole life. Parenthood has cut down on my Shea visits in recent years, and I know that'll be even more true at CitiField, at least until the novelty wears off for the city as a whole. I'm not particularly worried about being shut out: Rightly or wrongly, I figure I'll get by via StubHub and friends with plans and lagniappe, and soon enough I'll know the new place as well as I know Shea, from where the better food is to the quickest escape routes. (And where the Shake Shack outpost is — I'll have that one figured out after Visit No. 1.) But all this will take a while, and even then, with fewer seats, deciding to go to Citi will likely never be as simple as deciding to go to Shea. I'm pretty sure I'll be happy at CitiField, but that's not the same as knowing for sure.

The team that will play at CitiField will look more or less the same in terms of uniforms and fan-bestowed myths, and I hope the company will include many of the same people. But while the architecture won't be the focal point of those new memories any more than it is of Shea reminiscences, it will be different, and memories will inevitably be Shea memories and Citi memroies.

Which gets to the heart of the matter.

I saw my first games as a baseball-mad child at Shea, rooting for Mike Phillips and Joel Youngblood and Lee Mazzilli. Years later, having moved back to the area, I met my blog partner and good friend Greg Prince at Shea, no doubt outside Gate E, for Bill Pulsipher's major-league debut. Which kicked off a hell of a run in Queens: I saw Rey Ordonez introduce himself to New York with an unbelievable relay to home plate; John Franco get ejected for fighting and so not be available for a save opportunity on John Franco Day; Todd Hundley's 41st homer; Mike Piazza's first game; John Olerud erase weeks of frustration with a grand slam off Greg Maddux; Brad Clontz uncork a wild pitch that kept 1999 going; Pratt hit one over the fence; Robin Ventura's grand-slam single; the 10-run inning against the hated Braves; Benny Agbayani's extra-inning home run; Bobby Jones send Jeff Kent and the Giants home with a one-hitter; Timo Perez leap into the air to get us to the World Series even faster; and David Wright's major-league debut. (And I've left space for two more months of good things, should the baseball gods provide.)

Did Shea have a lot to do with these memories? Not really, though I did enjoy (with a touch of anxiety) watching the stands flex under 50,000 ecstatic die-hards. But it would be small-minded and mean-spirited to ignore the fact that these things happened at Shea. Those two green seats (because that's where I usually sat) will be an homage to all those times — and, OK, an acknowledgment that I'm a little more sentimental than I thought.

13 comments to Taking a Seat (or Two)

  • Anonymous

    And I, who love Shea beyond all reason and would happily watch Sh*ttyField succumb to the wrecking ball instead, will not have two of those seats in which I have parked my non-booing butt an estimated thousand times. I, who intimately know and love largely unseen nooks and crannies of that place. I, probably Shea Stadium's most steadfast and unwaveringly loyal supporter, am shut out of owning a piece of my heart, by the almighty dollar and ever-mounting greed of our increasingly soulless management. While Jace, who will stand cheering as it falls, will have it literally in his own backyard. LMFAO. Priceless. Just priceless. Ah, the not-so-delicious irony of it all. Gotta love it.
    So Jace, how much would you charge for visitation rights? And in Soulless, Fan-Unfriendly Mets Management Greed tradition, will you bolt them to the top of the highest tree and then make us enter an email lottery for the online-only/outrageous fee opportunity to pay an obscenely inflated king's ransom to sit there in the postseason?

  • Anonymous

    There's no way you'll regret buying those seats. I think you made the right decision.

  • Anonymous

    I went for the red ones myself. I wanna know one very important thing: are they leaving the seat numbers on, or will be all get a chrome plated “Shea Stadium 1964-2008″ logo instead?
    Yes, the cost hurt, but look at it this way: it's not like their value is going down. If you're in a pinch in 20 years, you can sell em for quite the profit.
    And it also allows you to be super cool when you visit the Hall of Fame to see Piazza's plaque in 5 years. You'll be walking through and you'll spot a pair of Shea seats behind a rope, and you'll say to no one in particular, “I've got two of those at home!”

  • Anonymous

    Here's to many a good sit…during road games, of course.

  • Anonymous

    I'm just glad to have taken a photo of the nameplate on the back of my season seats during the short but sweet time period in which full season tickets were affordable for us mere mortals (BM: Before Mike). That will have to do, I'm afraid. :-(
    Although I am considering buying a seat from Yankee Stadium, cutting in hole in it and adding a lid. heh

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, you can't blame Mets management for the price – NYC owns the stadium and is setting the price, the Mets are donating their share (which I think is 1/3) to charity.
    Yes, it's a ridiculously high price – and I bought an orange pair. I too, may be out of a job soon, but I figured I would always regret it if I didn't buy a pair.

  • Anonymous

    Jason,
    Would love to have a pair, but the sales tax alone comes up to over $75!

  • Anonymous

    I know! I was going to get my folks to get them to avoid that (they live in Virginia), but figured they'd either charge the tax to send them to a NY address, or else it would cost me at least $100 to get them from Virginia to here.
    Oh well. As others have noted, if I regret it enough I can probably sell them and get back most if not all of my money….

  • Anonymous

    If I were to spend a grand on two seats, I would not have a hope of getting my hands on extortionate postseason ducats, nor would I have a hope of getting into CF at all next year. Because season tickets and even plans have become so expensive that I can't afford to put up all that money at once, I have had to come by my tix by buying a 7-pack here, a 5-pack there, another 7-pack here… single tickets by the game, and the extraordinary generosity of a friend who does the same, but buys his packs in pairs and brings me along for free. So if not for management greed, I wouldn't have to make that choice. They've raised ticket prices to obscene levels, causing a lot of us–like those of us who live in NYC on barely survivable single incomes–to have to buy all these packs at several hundred dollars a pop, then either have separate savings accounts for a couple of playoff games that we have only a snowball's chance of being chosen for anyway, or go into debt. It's just wrong.
    I used to have a pair of season tickets on field level without even feeling the financial pinch–and I was living in Manhattan at the time! Those tickets are now around $9,000, and ONE seat in the upper deck for the season would now cost me about what that PAIR of field level seats cost me then. Criminal. And unjustified by anything more than “we raise prices because we can.” $25 to sit upstairs and watch us play the Astros? $35 to sit upstairs and watch us play the Rockies? $47 to sit upstairs and watch us play the Skanks? And I still can't get a friggin' pretzel above the mezzanine? GREED. >:-(
    As word is that the crappiest upper/outer seasons at CF will start at “only” around $1,500 a seat (if the little people are even afforded the opportunity to purchase them… jury's still out), I'm afraid I would have no choice but to regret spending nearly a grand on two Shea seats… unless of course I could bring them to CF, plunk them down and sit in them for free. heh
    (Yeah, I'm bitter… but although I'm horribly jealous, I'm glad some real Met fans are getting the Shea seats. Sit in good health. And once they're out of Shea, boo in them all you want, with my blessing.)

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jason,
    You can also dissassemble the seats and sell them part by part. Am sure there are lots of us (me included) who could afford to spend a little money on a small portion of the seat in lieu of $869 plus tax for the entire pair.
    Bet it was the free shipping that got you to buy them!

  • Anonymous

    i appreciate your post, jason, and your decision, and everyone else's comments. they all reflect my own internal debate, and lend a veneer of sobriety to what would otherwise be dismissed as lunacy. the price is high, and payment is sought at a time when money is tight and income is not so disposable. it may be better to bring pliers to the last game and see what can be home-delivered.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, I'm a reporter with The Associated Press. I'm trying to get hold of someone who has purchased some of the Shea seats for a story. If Jason or anyone who has bought seats is interested in being interviewed, please contact me.
    Thanks,
    Karen Matthews
    Associated Press
    212-621-1670

  • Anonymous

    I'm going w/ the blue seats (my season tickets place me in the loge) . I'd really like one of those signs w/ Mr . Met that says gate A and “thanks for coming to Shea” on the other side . Wonder if they'll be for sale, too and if so , how much they'll go for?…………….BTW, I save on tax living in NJ !!