The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

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.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com.

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

It's Not There

I couldn’t leave. Eventually I did, but for a few moments, I just could not. I was a runner caught off second — frozen, absolutely frozen. My intention was to turn and exit the Upper Deck, the kind of task I’d accomplished with aplomb who knows how many times on how many levels of where I used to go to baseball games. I couldn’t do it. I was physically unable to leave when it was all over. And it was all over.

The game was over.

The season was over.

The race was over.

The ceremony was over.

Shea Stadium (April 17, 1964 – September 28, 2008) was over.

But I couldn’t leave behind what I was looking at. I couldn’t turn away from it. I knew that when I turned away, it would be gone forever. Only by standing and staring at its field and at its seats and at its memories could I and I alone keep it hooked up to the respirator. Only I could assure it breath. Only I could keep it alive. As long as I stood there, as long as I refused to leave, Shea Stadium could continue to exist.

But I did leave and now it no longer exists. You can still drive by it on the Grand Central, you can still approach it from the Whitestone Expressway, you can still peek out the window on your flight in or out of LaGuardia, and a couple of transit lines will still ferry you past it. 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue is on the map for a little while longer. But it’s not there. Maybe here (points to the head), definitely here (points to the heart), but not there where it counts.

It’s not a ballpark anymore. A ballpark has ballgames. A ballpark has a ballclub. The club that used to play ball at Shea Stadium doesn’t live there anymore. Neither do I. Nor do any of us. Without baseball and without the New York Mets there is — temporary physical evidence notwithstanding — no Shea Stadium.

There is no Shea Stadium.

Contemplate that, would you? Consider the width, breadth and depth of that statement. Shea Stadium was. Not is, but was. Shea Stadium constructs all its sentences for the rest of time in the past tense. Shea Stadium was over there. Shea Stadium was where we went. I used to go to Shea Stadium.

This is a situation unlike any I can fathom. I cannot fathom this situation at all. I saw it end. I heard it end. The gates all but shut in my wake. It’s no longer where I go. It’s where I went. It’s unfathomable.

Shea Stadium’s not there. I didn’t want to leave it, but it was going no matter what I did.

26 comments to It’s Not There

  • Anonymous

    Greg,
    It's been fun. I'll point towards my head and heart, also. It'll always be there. As I walked towards the 7 Train in what felt like a funeral procession I couldn't help but notice there was a magnetism attracting my head and weight right at Shea. My last memory is probably going to be entering the Subway entrance whilst still staring at the Blue facade that will always be something special to all of us.
    Thank You, William A. Shea Municipal Stadium.
    - Roger Kowalski

  • Anonymous

    Greg,
    The first game I ever went to was a 1973 1-hitter hurled by Atlanta's Ron Schueler. Willie Mays led off for the Mets. Henry Aaron was in the outfied for the Braves. Jerry Koosman pitched for the Good Guys.
    I will be able to recite this ver batim until the pennies cover my eyes.
    I will also recall the way the upper deck bounced, the papier-mache apple rising out of its cauldron-hat, the Bakin Robbins stand behind the plate on the field level, free tickets to the 1981 post-strike exhibition vs. the Blue Jays, THe Stones in '89, Sundays from 1991-2000 in Mezz./Sec. 7/Row A with my Dad…
    And UD/Sec. 22/Row A, seeing Greg Prince walk my way, giving the Sopranos greeting: “Ho! 'Dere he is!” and (usually) intoning our own version of “My God…Wasn't that awful?”
    I'll miss this ol' girl. It won't be the same in the Trophy Wife across the street…

  • Anonymous

    B-But… Aren't you all excited about those great new luxury boxes at the new Citi Field?

  • Anonymous

    A terrible day for Met fans. A death in the family for Shea fans. Thanks for all your posts down the stretch. You made the end of Shea as bearable as possible.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a long-distance Met fan and have only been able to visit Shea a handful of times, so as much as I’ll miss the old girl, I can’t pretend I’ll feel it as much as you lucky regular patrons. Thanks for the pieces on Shea these past few days, which really made me feel the finality of the occasion, even from afar. Wish I could have been there for the sendoff. I find myself moping around the office today, not so much because we missed the playoffs, but because Shea won’t be there next year.

  • Anonymous

    At first I couldn't wait to leave, and then suddenly I absolutely had to get behind home plate upstairs. Had to get a shot from up there. Cursing my lack of a fisheye. Cursing that I didn't do it earlier this week, earlier this year, last year. That I was doing it with eyes that literally hurt from crying (all my photos from the end of the ceremony are blurry – if I'd known that I would have put the damn camera down).
    My other half was ready to leave, I think, and instead I am dragging him around shea in the opposite direction of the way we need to do, just for a picture.
    And that's when we ran into you. You looked shellshocked. I know we didn't look much better, since we finally found someone to take our photo after the game (instead of BEFORE. what were we thinking?)
    I had committed to photographing the dismantling of Shea but I don't know that I can do it now.

  • Anonymous

    Found some Flickr photos that someone took of the closing ceremonies, brought back a ton of memories (Cleon Jones!!!!)
    Anybody know a good site to download photos of great Met moments? Would love to create a nice screen saver when this ache goes away.
    -sjg$

  • Anonymous

    Ugh… mets.com wasted no time getting rid of a lot of Shea info in their pulldown menu. I get it, it's progress, there's no reason to host a Shea seating chart anymore, but… can we have a few days' respect for the dead, please?
    Also, my heart goes out to Schoenweis. For those who don't know, his wife had a premature baby that's supposedly barely hanging on. Despite this, he still went out and pitched yesterday, trying to get us to the post season. My hat's off to him.

  • Anonymous

    My first game at Shea was in 1970. It was against the Phillies. I can't remember who pitched. But I was there with my mom, grandfather and brother. Because my grandfather was blind and uneasy in crowds, we arrived at Shea very early and sat in our seats an interminably long time before the game began.
    I've been to many games since then, and have attended games with my husband, my kids, and with many wonderful friends. I have a ton of memories of the place, and they're all good.
    P.S. I haven't seen anything about the Schoenweis story that Kevin From Flushing reports. But if it's true, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. My daughter was a preemie – she thankfully survived, but I know how scary premature births can be.

  • Anonymous

    I'm angry about the loss and the blown opportunities to make the playoffs, and the gnawing fear that this team isn't that good and may never be. But I'm accustomed to this feeling, having had it so many times.
    But I'm ineffably sad about Shea. All the joy and heartache, good times and bad I've had there for 30+ years. Literally the happiest and saddest moments of my life were at Shea. I know it was probably time to move on, but knowing doesn't make letting go any easier.
    Hey, how about a hand for management for puting together than final celebration? We kill them for everything they do wrong, but this was spot-on perfect. And despite initial misgivings, thank God they had the ceremony afer the game. Now, my last memory of Shea won't be despair and anger as we blow yet another season; it'll be Shea's bookend Hall of Famers walking out arm in arm to 'In My Life'.

  • Anonymous

    funny. i have that memory, but i also have the memory of NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE THEM ADEQUATELY BECAUSE THE FIELD WAS FILLED WITH STORM TROOPERS.
    No seriously. Look at my Flickr feed. And I have a zoom lens.
    I don't have one decent photo of that ceremony that doesn't have a cop in the frame.
    They couldn't even START because that one mounted cop was blocking Mr. Met.
    I'm not saying it wasn't touching and heart rending and if by the end of it half my photos were blurry because I was crying so hard. But it was far, far from spot-on perfect. At least IMHO.

  • Anonymous

    All I see is David Wright waving at a 3-2 fastball high and away on Wednesday night ..Give Pinella credit for pitching to him. That took the bat out of the hands of the next two hitters. Church was almost predictably weak at the plate and the rest – as they say- is history..
    Rich

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Kevin.
    The article doesn't offer much in the way of detail. Preemies typically stay in the hospital until they reach something like the 5 pound mark, so we don't know what kind of shape the baby is in.
    That said, even if the baby is healthy but small, the experience of going through a premature birth is pretty dreadful. Hopefully that's all that he and his family are dealing with.

  • Anonymous

    No, no, the beautiful mind sitting behind me yesterday (more on him in a bit) was very insistent that Scott Schoeneweis “get it over with and stick a gun in his mouth,” so obviously Schoeneweis has no excuses and nothing with which to concern himself except the approval of that guy who no doubt will always be there for Schoeneweis as he wished Schoeneweis' location was there for him.

  • Anonymous

    I think the fans have themselves to thank for the over-the-top police presence. Bum-rushing the field he way they did in '86 wasn't the fun celebration it was in '69; it was a bunch of drunks wrecking the field and assaulting the players trying to snag souvenirs.
    Shea Security was worthless to the end. We made our way down to field level, hoping to get some ground-level pics and maybe reach down and grab a scoop of dirt. There were the orange-clad goons making sure to deny us entry, even now with the ballpark closed.

  • Anonymous

    I really hope people don't pin the whole season on this at bat. Don Darling unknowingly summed up the season perfectly last week when he said, “it seems like this team has brutal losses every night, but they always bounce back strong.” Well Ronny, they did have a knack for bouncing back before September, but part one of the statement nails it: it seems like this team has brutal losses every night.
    Sure we can point our fingers at Murph on third, nobody out. What about the game in Philly where we blew a 7-0 lead? What about at Shea when Johan left after 8 innings with a 5-2 lead against the Phillies, and they scored 6 in the ninth? Hell, how about ALL of those Santana blown saves? Or the Braves 5-run 9th two weeks ago? Or getting swept 4 games in San Diego to a Padre team that went on to lose 99 games?
    The list goes on, believe me. Don't blame Wright for the whole season. We took one brutal loss too many, and it was truly a team effort. Yes, the bullpen is at the forefront of the most glaring losses, but there were plenty of unexplainable nights when the offense was asleep. Mike Pelfrey lost TWO 1-0 GAMES TO THE NATIONALS, FOR GOD SAKES.
    I hope this helps rest a little easier this offseason. Getting stuck on one inning for an entire winter is rough and unneccesary.

  • Anonymous

    The Mets had brutal losses Monday, Wednesday and Friday and bounced back Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If the Brewers had lost like we did Sunday, you know we would have been golden tonight.

  • Anonymous

    “Getting stuck on one inning for an entire winter is rough and unneccesary.”
    That's a great point Kevin. My son and I were commiserating after the game and we were rattling off every game you just mentioned. I understand that every team in every season has some bad losses, but men, did we ever have our share this year.

  • Anonymous

    I was NOT drunk on September 17th, 1986. Nor did I assault anyone.

  • Anonymous

    When Shea first opened I don't think there was a person among us who thought it would be torn down just 45 years later. That being said, Citifield might become a great ballpark but it will never truly be home for this generation of Met fans.
    I think if we took a poll today, more would prefer a renovated Shea as opposed to a new ballpark built primarily for luxury boxes (which, based upon the current economic crisis, might not be sold).

  • Anonymous

    I watched the finale from the upper deck behind the plate, where I've been on Sundays for the past 8 years. While holding the closing celebration at the end of the game at first struck me as another upside down decision by management, it did let me leave the park with the 45 years of memories at Shea uppermost in mind, instead of the day's frustration of falling short again. My first game at Shea was July 31, 1964, and I still have the scorecard from that game (vs. the Houston Colt. 45s and the Mets won), which will be joined by the program from today's game in the place where I keep such things. Kudos to whoever designed the program–it put the focus on the players and the fans and let both feel the connection between them. Next year, we will be in a new park with more comforts, better food, etc. But for those of us of a certain age, it probably will never rock (figurativlely and literally) quite like Shea.

  • Anonymous

    “it probably will never rock (figurativlely and literally) quite like Shea.”
    Fran Healy would agree.

  • Anonymous

    My first game at Shea was the second game ever. A Saturday afternoon in April 1964 against the Pirates, Mezzanine Reserved, 1st base side, low row. Maybe $2.50 – $3.00. I was 12 going on 13.
    I had said goodbye to a stadium before. Polo Grounds in 1963. My Dad said goodbye to the Polo Grounds twice. Once for the Giants, once for the Mets.
    I said goodbye to Shea on Wednesday. That dismal defeat to the Cubs. 9th inning, Murphy on 3rd, no one out.
    Come to think of it, the two times my Dad said goodbye to the Polo Grounds along with my last time there, home team lost. A lot of good times despite.
    If I have the time, I'll be there when the first wrecking ball hits. I was there when Shea was built, saw the whole thing happen. Kid living in downtown Flushing.

  • Anonymous

    I know that it is easy to bash the move and complain about the ticket prices. But I have had a mezz box for the last 17 years (actually moved closer to home a couple of years ago)…my average ticket price this year per ticket was 54.00. Next year, I am moving just past third base and will be 15 feet CLOSER to the field and will be only slightly higher up for an average price of 60.00 a ticket. I think this is fair value, and when you finally get into the new park, you won't miss the old one for anything.
    My favorite memeory of Shea is a game in early April 1986. Mets-Pirates. It became known to me and my firends as Sammy Khalifa night, theonly Egyptian born player. Freezing cold, and I made my wife stay for the whole game in sec 1 behind home plate. We were the only ones in the section from the sixth innning on. 2 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th and the Mets Win. Shea held the cold very well.

  • Anonymous

    I don't buy that 1986 was the reason for the over-the-top presence in 2008. TWENTY TWO YEARS LATER, they're going to call in every off-duty NYPD in the five boroughs?
    Sorry. Not buying it.
    It was disrespectful and unnecessary. I hope there were no capital crimes being committed in NYC at that moment.