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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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Golden Now

“You’ve got your new address here. There really isn’t anything else you need.”

“Hold up. That’s it?”

“Sure. You’re golden now.”

“I don’t get it.”

“It’s not unexpected. You’re not the first one to move here and be a little frazzled from the whole experience. But honestly, you don’t need anything else.”

“How about an explanation?”

“That’s fair. I tend to forget you new guys aren’t acclimated.”

“You can say that again. The whole last few months have been a fog. Even worse than the one that used to roll in off the bay.”

“No worries.”

“What do you mean no worries? I get the feeling I’m not really myself anymore.”

Au contraire, mon frère. If anything, you’re more yourself than you’ve ever been.”

“Once again, I’m lost.”

“I told ya: You’re golden now. We all are.”

“I need more than that.”

“Not really, but I’ll try to clear it up.”

“Great.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I don’t know. A lot of noise. And a lot of pain. Like I was missing pieces of myself. And they kept taking more of me.”

“Yeah, that’s common. But what’s your last really strong memory?”

“It’s gotta be the cheering. Some booing. A lot of booing, actually. But the cheers eventually drowned out the boos. Some pyrotechnics, I think. Billy Joel, too. ‘New York State of Mind,’ if I’m not mistaken. Yeah, I’d know that song anywhere.”

“And before that? I don’t necessarily mean right before, but you know, in general.”

“Lots of cheering. Mixed with booing, but definitely more cheering. Real noisy, but in a good way. Not like what I’m remembering from the last few months. Sure, some of it over the years was annoying, like the canned stuff over the PA…”

“We didn’t have that in my day.”

“…and those planes.”

“I wasn’t near the planes, but I heard you had those.”

“I bet you could hear those planes all the way up here.”

“You’d be surprised at what you can hear up here. They tell me that afternoon I had in ’51 rattled all kinds of clouds, which makes sense seeing as how it was heard ’round the world — just like that Saturday night you had in ’86 that kept all of us up.”

“You could hear that here?”

“Drowned out the planes even.”

“Really?”

“Tell me more about what you remember.”

“Well, noise. Put aside the unnatural stuff from the PA and the planes — and the bats and balls and all that — and I mostly remember the people.”

“The people?”

“You know, the, uh…oh what were they called again? I’m still woozy from everything going on these last few months.”

“Relax, you’ll get your bearings back in no time. Are the people you’re referring to ‘the fans’?”

“Yeah! That’s it! The fans! They made all kinds of noise!”

“What kinds?”

“Cheering, like I said. And booing. You wouldn’t believe how much booing sometimes. But there was this laughter. It was always there, like a steady stream. The people — those fans — they were so happy usually. I kind of remember the team not always being so good, but it was almost…”

“Beside the point?”

“Yeah! Like whatever the team’s record, it almost didn’t matter in the long run. People, especially the young ones, came to have fun. Like it was their first time.”

“Y’know what?”

“What?”

“At some point, it was their first time. You gave lots of people their first time.”

“Gee, I never thought of it that way.”

“That’s why you’re golden now. Are you getting it?”

“A little.”

“Let me help fill in the blanks. You know that laughter and the chatter and the sense of…”

“Fun?”

“Yes, the fun. That’s what they’re gonna remember you for now.”

“They are?”

“Absolutely.”

“‘Cause I gotta tell ya, I didn’t have the best reputation down there.”

“None of us did in our time.”

“You don’t understand. They called me some pretty nasty names toward the end, made it sound as if they had to play one more inning in me that the world would come to an end.”

“Listen, I heard it in my day, too.”

“You did? I find that hard to believe.”

“We all heard that stuff.”

“No way! People talk about you in such revered terms. They talk about all of you with reverence.”

“Yes, now they do. That’s because we’re not there anymore.”

“That makes a difference?”

“All the difference in the world. Down there, our blemishes show. Up here, the only thing people see or feel are their memories. And y’know what?”

“What?”

“Their memories aren’t about the blemishes.”

“They’re not? ‘Cause, honestly, I had my share of ‘em.”

“Their memories are those first times they went. The first time is why they wanted to go back a second time, then a dozen times, then a dozen more times. And those made new memories, more memories, good memories. They didn’t go back to you because they didn’t like you. They may have found things to complain about, but that all paled in significance to the happiness you gave them.”

“I did that?”

“You sure did.”

“And that’s what they’ll remember? Not the nuisances or the inconveniences or whatever wasn’t working on a particular day or night?”

“They’ve already begun to forget.”

“Wow.”

“I think you’re coming around.”

“So that’s why you keep telling me that I’m…”

“Golden now. As of today, you exist solely in memory like the rest of us up here do. People don’t want to remember what they didn’t like about us. They want to remember what they loved. That’s why we all look so good up here.”

“That’s why we’re golden now.”

“You’re catching on.”

“So all that hacking away they were doing to me the last few months until there was nothing left of me?”

“Not an issue. Up here you’re yourself again. Better than new.”

“Do I look brand new? Or like I did later?”

“You look exactly the way the people choose to remember you. Some are going to want to see you as you were when you came to be or when you came into their lives or when you gave them their strongest memories inside you. That’s how they view me now. That’s how they view all of us. And how they view us in memory is all that matters anymore. That’s why I was saying all you need to know from here on out is your new address.”

“I don’t live at 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue anymore?”

“You live here now. You’re home.”

***

Shea Stadium lives on in the upcoming book Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available for pre-ordering now via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers.

20 comments to Golden Now

  • Anonymous

    This is too sad.
    Thanks for everything Shea. I'll miss seeing you every day.

  • Anonymous

    First, this is wonderful. Thank you for my virtual moment of silence.
    Every year I contribute to this literary magazine who has a baseball issue. I told TBF this weekend that the concept was a conversation between Shea and Citi Field, and his first response was, “Sounds like something Greg would write.”
    *pause*
    “Oh, crap.”
    I may still finish it. Great minds think alike and all that.

  • Anonymous

    That is absolutely beautiful Greg – thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Very good. Goodbye my second home.

  • Anonymous

    I knew you'd do this right, Greg.
    Once again, you did not disappoint.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant. A wonderful tribute to our old friend.

  • Anonymous

    Does this mean Ebbets Field's been reincarnated and isn't in Ballpark Nirvana?
    Tell Gil hello for all of us, Shea. And Tommie and Tug.

  • Anonymous

    It's a Mets thing.

  • Anonymous

    I always thought Shea was a wonderful place to watch a game. To paraphrase James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams – “The memories of Shea are so thick you need to swat them away”

  • Anonymous

    Goodbye Old Friend… a part of many of us came to an end today with you.

  • Anonymous

    Just happened to be watching the local news with my wife and son as the last bit of Shea came down..That video took me by surprise and shook me to my very core. Honestly I couldn't speak for several minutes. I just stared at the screen and started to scare my wife as I became unresponsive to her voice..I looked at my son and wondered how long it would be before he asked me for the first time about Shea. I wondered what I would say..
    It's gone. It's really gone…
    Rich

  • Anonymous

    Yes,
    That video was haunting to watch.

  • Anonymous

    Greg, you are brilliant. I'm actually getting choked up while I type this at work. Thanks for a great tribute.

  • Anonymous

    Sometime in the future:
    Hey! Where da fuck am I and who are youse clowns?
    I'm the Vet. My windy friend here is Candlestick. The somber-looking chap over there is the Kingdome. The cavernous fellow near the burning River Styx is Cleveland Municipal. Welcome to Ballpark Hell.
    I'm Yankee-fuckin'-stadium! I'm supposed to be gettin ready for a game. Them faggoty-ass Blue Jays are comin in for three.
    I'm sorry. You've been replaced.
    DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'm Yankee Stadium! I got the least parking, the worst and most expensive food and the surliest ushers in the freakin major leagues. I got stairways and corridors so narrow and dark, I got bats hangin from the ceiling. But that don't matter, cuz I'm Yankee Fuckin' Stadium!
    Again, I'm sorry.
    Jeez, for eighty five years, I gave fans a joyless experience, where winning was grimly anticipated. Now you tell me I'm not gonna pal around with my old friends PG and EF?
    Actually, they hated you. The way you treated them and their fans is a big part of why you're here.
    Do you know who I am? I'm Yankee Stadium! The House that Ruth Built.
    So we've heard.
    Hey, What are all youse guys doin'? You've got packs of rabid dogs runnin' through your grandstand. The Seattle guy looks like he's drownin' for Chrissakes. And the Frisco guy is spinning round and round like he's in a tornado.
    These are our punishments. We have to atone for all the sins we committed when we were alive.
    I don't like where this is goin'.
    Indeed. You'll spend eternity hosting monster truck rallies in front of rabidly drunk redneck fans.
    How humiliatin'!
    Exactly!

  • Anonymous

    Now I'm the one who's tearing up.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Our big old park, our 2nd home, up there with Gil and Tommie and Tug, watching over us. Now I get it too.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, I get it too. Our old ballpark, our 2nd home, our frustrating, flawed, heartbreaking, warm fuzzy place where we could be with the others who got it, now up there with Gil and Tommie and Tug, watching over us. Have to compose myself now so my kid doesn't see Dad with tears in his eyes like she did as we left on 9/28 for the last time.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, am I glad I checked back in on this post. From the first line I had the exact voice in my head saying, “I'm Yankee fuckin' Stadium.” Yes, you are.
    They'll need name tags in hell to figure out which version is which for Stan's roll call. Let the monster trucks begin!

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