- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Deep Inside the Feral Catacombs

So for the reasonable price of $10,000, I joined the Shea Stadium Premiere Club [1]. Didn't think I could afford it, but it turns out if you go to a game without buying a pretzel or a soda, your savings mount up rather quickly. Thus, with the extra 10 G's I saved Sunday by buying nothing, I became a Platinum member and got first crack at the historic artifacts that will be saved from Shea before it is dismantled to make way for Citi Field.

This is not a fee, by the way, but a non-refundable deposit toward my intended purchases [2]. Like I said, incredibly reasonable. MeiGray, the company that's handling the memorabilia sales, heard about my decision to attend every remaining home game and figured I must be their target demographic. They took my money right away and gave me the very first exclusive tour Sunday evening.

They took me through their entire inventory [3] of what they're offering up front. Those gigantic banners of the great players and moments in Mets history are $2,000. The door from the Bob Murphy radio booth is $4,000. A letter from the main SHEA STADIUM sign goes for $5,000. The column that says Gate E is $10,000. David Wright's locker is $15,000. A foul pole is 25 large. The '69 and '86 world championship flags are 50 grand a pop.

For a big spender like me, they said, they could wrap up whatever I wanted so I could take it home on the LIRR right away.

Very nice, I said, but I wanted to see the good stuff, the exclusive stuff, the stuff nobody else knows about.

Well, they said, that would cost me an extra $10,000. If I gave them that, then they could upgrade me to Double Platinum Chrome membership in the Shea Stadium Premiere Club. It wouldn't be a fee, but a non-refundable deposit toward my intended purchases.

Since the pretzels weren't ready [4] Saturday night, I had an extra $10,000 just taking up space in my wallet, so I said of course and gave it to them.

They pocketed my $20K and told me to follow them.

We went deep into the most feral catacombs of Shea Stadium. Very deep. You entered through Gate F, but that's all I know. This was where no one goes. In fact, they had to blindfold me so I couldn't tell anybody the way. (The blindfold was an extra $5,000 — not a fee, but a non-refundable deposit toward my intended purchases — but it was spare change to me, having brought my own beverages Sunday.) I did hear a lot of myowling.

They removed my blindfold and gave me the Double Platinum Chrome tour.

I was stunned.

“I've never seen any of this before,” I said.

“No one has,” my guide told me.

First there were the banners:

1987 National League East Champions

1998 National League Wild Card Winner

2007 World Champions

“But the Mets didn't make the playoffs those years,” I said.

“Keep looking,” said the guide.

Beyond the flags that didn't fly were other, even rarer items:

• A broken heart from the 1988 playoffs…

• A tortured soul from the 2000 Subway Series…

• A mind bent permanently out of shape, signed by Armando Benitez, John Franco and Brian Jordan…

• The swings never taken in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded on October 19, 2006…

• The Mets' intestinal fortitude from last September 30 (mint condition, not game-used).

“Whoa,” I said. “How much we talking?”

“Let's not talk price just yet,” the guide said. “There's more to see.”

A fog rolled in to the depths of Shea Stadium. Everything grew hazier and hazier until I was taken to what was called the piece d'resistance: a ghostly image — a hologram, actually.

It was Greg Norton launching a three-run bomb off Luis Ayala in the ninth inning on September 14, 2008.

“Whoa!” I said again. “This is already here? This is here with everything else that has destroyed our spirits and represents all that has gone wrong at Shea Stadium over the past twenty-plus years? You're already listing this in your catalogue of horrors?”

“If you hand us an extra $100,000,” my guide said, “we will let you know in two weeks.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Really. See, it's not a fee, but a non-refundable deposit toward your intended purchase.”

“Well, I was thinking about an Italian sausage for the last homestand, but that does sound like quite a deal…”

I'll let you know what to make of that image when I know. They promised me I'd be the first to find out.

Membership, you see, has its privileges.