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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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Joshua Gets Reacquainted With an Old Friend

On Saturday Emily and I were watching the game upstairs with my visiting parents, while Joshua was downstairs looking at the TV in our bedroom. (I don’t remember why this came about — he wasn’t being punished or anything. Unless you count watching the Mets as punishment, which right now I’d have trouble disputing.)

So Rod Barajas smacks his liner to left, Willie Harris dives for it, and Willie Harris being Willie Harris, it winds up nestled safely in his glove. We all groan, and I let a couple of obscenities fly. For obscure reasons involving this digital thingamabob and that digital doohickey, the downstairs TV is a couple of seconds behind the upstairs one. As shock and anger give way to grumpiness, we hear a little moan from downstairs. A minute later Emily finds Joshua lying on our bed completely still, head mashed into the covers.

Yeah, it was that kind of loss.

When the kid came upstairs, I asked him if he remembered the first time he saw Willie Harris in a game. He shook his head, and I reminded him: You were four years old. You and I went to Shea. It was really hot. The Mets fell behind against the Braves and came almost all the way back in the ninth, and Carlos Delgado hit one over the fence — and one of the Braves caught it.

“I remember that!” he chirped.

“You know who that Brave was?” I asked. “It was Willie Harris.”

When my kid is really interested in something he kind of looks at you for a moment and then gets quiet and stays that way. So it was on Saturday. I could see the wheels spinning around in there: Willie Harris isn’t a Brave anymore but a National and Carlos Delgado is gone and I’m a lot older but Willie Harris is still killing us. (I didn’t even tell him about Ryan Church.)

Fast-forward a day, and Emily and I are glumly watching the Mets finish mailing it in against that tomato can Livan Hernandez and the Zimmerman-less Nats. K-Rod nails Harris in the elbow and we watch the vaguely amusing, vaguely embarrassing semi-near-brawl — until Joshua realizes who the batter is and starts howling for blood. The kid is screaming at him for sticking his elbow in, for not getting out of the way, for saying mean things to K-Rod … basically, for being Willie Harris.

We hope our shared fandom will bring our children joy, and sometimes it does. But in making our kids into fans we’re also asking them to stick their innocent fingers into emotional light sockets over and over again. We’re signing them up for 60 days of disappointment a year even when things go swimmingly. It’s really kind of sick — sick to put our children through it, and sick to be not so secretly proud when they arrive at each new station of the fandom cross.

My kid now has his first Spike Owen, his debut Robby Thompson, his initial Brian Jordan. And he’ll never forget him. He’ll be in his late twenties and notice Willie Harris is the Diamondbacks’ third-base coach and his significant other will be left to wonder why the sight of some old coach pulling on one ear has provoked her beloved to spluttering rage. And then he’ll text me and maybe I’ll apologize for having done this to him. Though it’s more likely that I’ll laugh, and we’ll both hope that some Diamondback smashes a hard liner that catches Willie Harris in the seat of the pants. And then does so again.

6 comments to Joshua Gets Reacquainted With an Old Friend

  • Tom in Sunnsyside

    Your digital doohickey story reminds me of watching Carlos Beltran strike out to end game seven against the Cardinals.

    I’m home watching it on non-HD digital cable. My window is open a crack, so I can hear the noise on the street. As Wainwright goes into his motion I hear an agonized groan from a car at the red light. As he releases the ball I hear more strangled cries from apartments across the street. Finally the curve ball leaves Beltran frozen as a popsicle and I hear a gurgling moan… from my own throat, echoed by others in the neighborhood..

    That

  • mikeinbrooklyn

    By the time your kid is in his late twenties, we won’t need texts anymore. You two will be able to send each other your thoughts through the Bluetooth implanted in your frontal lobes.

    All while Jamie Moyer strikes out some future Met with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs.

  • MetsMom

    My son fell in love with the Mets when he was a little over 2, and enjoyed all the excitement of the subway series only to be heartbroken when they lost. Somehow he has survived ’06, ’07, ’08, & ’09. After last year I thought he might give up, that he would be tired of the disappointment, the teasing he endures in school as everyone knows he is a die-hard Mets fan. When I suggested that we not go on our annual spring training trip to Pt. St. Lucie, though, it was met with a look of horror. Somehow, he still loves the Mets, and is willing to go back again, each season, to cheer them on. But he’s a realist, and has been through enough to know how it usually ends. When Willie Harris made that catch, he put his hands on his head, looked at me, and said, “Figures.” I keep trying to convince myself (and him) that being a Mets fan has been a good thing for him because its taught him how to deal with disappointment – again, and again, and again.

    Now that he has a cell phone, I forward to him the tweets I receive about the Mets (I won’t let him get a Twitter account). He reads Metsblog when he’s in computer class and texts me the latest news, and we text back and forth about trades, games, etc. One time we simultaneously emailed the same faithandfear column to each other! It’s great, and I hope it continues. There is nothing better than sharing the Mets with him. Of course, it would be nice if we could share good times with the Mets rather than the usual angst-filled ones.

  • It breaks my heart right now to not have grown up with baseball. My father, who will tell you that he’s not a baseball fan, not a Mets fan, doesn’t follow baseball (but who listens to WFAN and can tell you in minute detail what happened in the last Mets game) abandoned baseball when the Dodgers left, and when I tell you that he is still upset about it I don’t mean that in a figurative sense. It is still a very real hurt to him.

    But jeez, in the 80s his company HAD A BOX AT SHEA, and I lived in Astoria, and, well, there you go. I was taking someone’s Elvis Costello tickets instead of going to the playoffs in 1986. Maybe I would have rejected baseball but I wouldn’t have had to start from zero halfway through my life if my dad had brought us up as Mets fans (because it had to be that, he won’t even go to Yankee Stadium now despite continual offers of tickets from business associates – now he takes them and gives them to us).

    Joshua will thank you later. Much later.

  • CharlieH

    This is why my CitiField brick has my father’s name, his years of birth and death and “thanks” from me.

    For the context of the brick, it was thanks for raising me a Met fan. He had been a Yankee fan until Stengel got fired (“What a raw deal they gave him!”) and most of his siblings — 7 out of 9 of them — have remained Yankee fans.

    I still feel like I got lucky.

  • I didnt like island of Hvar. But island Korcula is my favourite i must say.