Though the theme was clear enough, this year’s Flashback Friday execution was, by design, something of a scattershot affair. My assignment was to delve into The Log, the Steno Notebook in which I wrote down the result of every game I ever attended at Shea Stadium. I would glance through it, see what captured my fancy, what best represented recurring themes of fandom, what stood out as a signature experience and, quite frankly, what I hadn’t already written about in the course of Faith and Fear events or on previous Flashback Fridays in 2007, 2006 or 2005.
As part of my year-end Shea Stadium tribute blowout, this strikes me as good a time as any (even if it is a Saturday) to index the Tales From The Log I wrote in 2008. I hope you enjoy them if you care to go back and reread them or are linking to them for the first time.
In case you don’t know what the hell The Log is, it was fired up on August 15, 1981, a seminal moment which you can read about here. Get a look at it in its spiral green glory here. Skip to the end of it here. And if you don’t think I take (OK, took) The Log seriously as death, have a glance at the mind games I play(ed) with it, and it with me, here.
Being at Shea for some awful years was a common theme, as if to prove I hadn’t just figured out how to change at Woodside when we signed Pedro and Beltran. This is how things (particularly the Mets) went down for me in 1979, 1981, 1983 and 1993, to name four thrilling years in Met annals. More uplifting is what it was like to race back to Shea in a turnaround year like 1984 to chant on a ramp and clap with two strikes.
Infiltrating my Flashbacks, unbeknownst to them, were the members of my baseball-oblivious family (good people, but don’t try any Hot Stove talk with them). My sister was a pal and took me to Old Timers Days when I was a kid, such as this one in 1976. My father, more of a football man, indulged me for one night long after I was all grown up. My parents and my sister made an evening of it at Shea with me in 1975…and never again. Cap tip, at last, to my then-future brother-in-law who hated baseball more than the rest of them combined but provided me most awesome access to a slice of Shea fans don’t normally visit.
Nothing was more uniquely Shea than stepping through the old subway turnstiles, the ones that disappeared in the winter between 2007 and 2008. They are remembered here as the de facto Shea Stadium rotunda. It was also very much a Shea thing to see the home team starter not pitch a no-hitter. All the times I thought it was gonna happen before my eyes but didn’t are documented here. And Shea Stadium jerks and weirdoes were a very distinct breed. Meet a few of ’em here. For a decidedly non-jerky, non-weird vantage point of what made Shea Shea, we were treated to a valuable guest perspective from a good friend of FAFIF.
Pleasant meetings of all sorts over the years at Shea: David Wright (watching him for the first time); Al Leiter (introducing himself to third base); me and the Shea basepaths (on an overgrown Dash); me and those blue seats by the dugout (cushy!); and two games in one night (via two very different levels of accommodation). You can also get to know more about my penchant for psyching myself up for Mets games as I’m sure most Mets fan do…with showtunes.
A long and wrenching goodbye played out across two seasons. Fourteen long and goofy innings played out across two days, technically. A long Opening Day took its sweet time in 1998…but then again, we wait all winter for Opening Day, so why not make it last?
The final Opening Day at Shea was accounted for in an instant Flashback in April. In order to remember what a great night at Shea was like before its details fade, we had this immediate remembrance in July. Two August get-togethers from 29 years apart got their due right after the second of them was history. On the other hand, I’ve never really trusted August.
We didn’t ask for it, but from ’98 on we got the Subway Series every year at Shea Stadium. The first one did not start to specifications. The second one, however, revved up quite nicely. So did, come to think of it, my first-ever playoff game.
There was nothing like a September pennant race at Shea. The Mets went for it before falling short in 1998. There was another shortfall of some note in 2007 — I recalled one of the days of the final week of the C-word more for how it started than how it finished.
Closing Days were, unsurprisingly, a major theme, particularly toward the end of the Tales. Offered here is a look back at the way Shea and I ended our years together in 1985, 1988, 2001, 2004 and — you think we’d forget? — 2008.