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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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The Twinkle In Our Eyes

The 2013 All-Star Game is barely over and I’ve already forgotten all but its most salient details:

• Tom Seaver threw out the first pitch, looking as robust as ever.

• Matt Harvey went two scoreless, settling down after two shaky batters, no thanks to his catcher Yadier Molina who’s supposed to be so valuable at that task but lives only to irk us.

• David Wright accounted for one-third of the National League’s three-hit attack, in rough proportion to how much of the Mets’ offense he’s accounted for in recent years.

• Some idiot in a CANO 24 shirt was tackled by Citi Field security.

• Orange and blue were in abundance.

The National League may have gone down to defeat but the evening wasn’t a total Mets loss. Inanities of the game itself aside — from the non-Mets’ pitiful showing on the N.L. side to the usual gamut of overwrought Foxian gushing to Billy Wagner’s music being cued up despite 2006 having been a long time ago — the Metropolitan stamp all over All-Star festivities sparkled. Given that I was just a tad over 18 months old in July of 1964 and therefore possess limited memory of the exploits of Johnny Callison (though I do recall something about a very sharp batting helmet), I’d always wondered what it would be like if the Mets hosted one of these babies. Once Shea went away, it became less about a burning desire to be on hand and more simple curiosity to what it would look and feel like. Would it be stupendous? Strange? Undeniably different from when it’s somewhere else? Would we, to paraphrase George Carlin, be a credit to our row and do right by the Midsummer Classic?

Yes will suffice as answer to all of those questions. The All-Star Game takes place at Riverfront Stadium in my mind, since that was the first site where I saw it on TV. It takes place in Kansas City, since that had been the last place where I saw it on TV. It took place almost everywhere that wasn’t beautiful downtown Metsopotamia. I still feel robbed that Shea Stadium never got a second crack at the darn thing (thanks again, Al Harazin). That was where I wanted to see it live. Citi Field, despite my animus toward it having mostly dissolved, just didn’t have that appeal to me personally, which I guess is why I resisted the opportunity to pony up for a ticket. It was the difference between being damn sure I was going to be at Shea’s finale and not much caring that I wasn’t at Citi’s debut — or absolutely needing to see Billy Joel five years ago this week at Shea versus altogether ignoring Paul McCartney in Shea’s successor structure four years ago. One place mattered deeply in my heart, the other is still working on it.

I waited decades to watch an All-Star Game from seats like these in their natural habitat, but the game never came.

I waited decades to watch an All-Star Game from seats like these in their natural habitat, but the game never came.

That said, hell yes to Citi Field having hosted the All-Star Game, even as viewed from Section LR (Living Room). Better the Mets than everybody else. Better our colors and our skyline and our captain and our phenom and our legend and our history shining in the spotlight for days on end than the rest of the world’s. Better our transit system briefly breaking down after the Home Run Derby than whatever trains might run in Minneapolis next year. Flushing — and nowhere else — is where the All-Star Game now takes place to my thinking. Give me that overwhelming parochialism when I haven’t experienced it before. Give me Seaver throwing to Wright then making way for Harvey while Gooden watches from great seats. Bleah on Kevin James, but hooray that it’s one of our celebrity fans plugging a dismal movie. And give me a seating bowl and standing room engorged with mostly Mets fans, cheering David and Matt and Tom, booing assorted interlopers and not being anybody else but Mets fans.

As if David Wright didn't have enough Mets fans hanging all over him this week.

As if David Wright didn’t have enough Mets fans hanging all over him this week.

Oh, and give me FanFest in Mets flavors again someday. Sorry it has to be Brigadoon and that it can’t be a sixth borough. How nice to enjoy an exposition that’s all baseball all the time for five days (I went for two). How nice that as you make your way to the Javits Center, it’s Mets fans coming, Mets fans going, Mets fans being Mets fans in broad daylight. It was as if I opened my eyes and the Metscape that exists in my wildest dreams had practically come to life. Truth be told, the depth of this FanFest felt a little shallower than in 2008, but it more than made up for its modest shortcomings with Mets, Mets and more Mets. If all I got for my ten bucks was a mural of almost accurately portrayed great Mets moments, a poseworthy cardboard cutout of the most recent (albeit slightly outdated) Mets team picture and a couple of well-preserved Shea seats, that would’ve been worth it. But I got that practically after walking in the door, and there was much beyond the entrance to savor.

It doesn't hurt to practice being high-profile happy, just in case it's actually merited again someday.

It doesn’t hurt to practice being high-profile happy, just in case it’s actually merited again someday.

A chunk of what I didn’t devote to All-Star Game admission was directed instead toward various commemorative garments and tchotchkes, all of which I will enjoy wearing and/or staring at it from time to time as I dream of the day when everything Metsian is in full bloom not just for a brief spell in July, but clear across the baseball calendar…especially in October. Let’s call this week high-profile practice toward that ultimate goal.

Another way to prepare for further Met triumph: Brush up on the wins that set the stage for all the rest by reading The Happiest Recap: First Base (1962-1973), available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon. Personally inscribed copies can be ordered from the Team Recap store.

20 comments to The Twinkle In Our Eyes

  • Kevin from Flushing

    I’m very happy you enjoyed the festivities in person. On TV, the whole thing was rather boring, despite all the good things our Mets were doing. The Mariano gushing just made it annoying. I understand that that was going to happen, pomp and Sandman, no matter where the ASG was played. I’m not annoyed it happened, just annoyed it happened to fall on our year. I’m more annoyed that we only got 3 damn hits.

    Again, I’m glad to hear the experience in person was a good one. The Fox mics certainly weren’t picking up much of a crowd to translate the fun times to the home viewer.

  • While I enjoyed the general concept of the Mets hosting the All-Star Game and had some weird civic pride related to it (I mean, I watched the whole first round of the Home Run Derby and very nearly decided to stick around not just to the end, but for the Legends & Celebrities Game telecast, which never happens), the ASG itself has largely become a slow, plodding, underwhelming spectacle. I’m under the assumption that this is caused by a combination of “This One Counts”-itis and the bloviating sanctimony of Messrs. Buck and McCarver, though for me even FanFest was a boring collection of lines to stuff I remember doing for free in the mid-2000s at Shea, just outside of Gate E.

    (Though I must say, the three Halls of Fame booths (Mets, Negro Leagues, and NBHOF), the Minor League Baseball wall, and the Trophies of MLB exhibit? Spectacular.)

  • Steve D

    My thoughts about the game are very random…Seaver was his old self…Yankee fans in Shea are always sickening, mainly due to their arrogance…it must be a lot of work to put on the game for the home team and Wright in this case…it is kind of a let down it’s over…I miss the days of NL dominance…how did Leland screw it up that Mariano did not pitch the 9th inning?

    • He wanted to make sure he pitched. Had the score been reversed, there wouldn’t have been a 9th available for Rivera to pitch in. Pardon the atrocious grammar…

      • Steve D

        My point is that the score was 3-0, AL leading…if you watched the game, the odds were very low the NL was going to score 4 runs on probably Joe Nathan or any other all-star pitcher. Leland himself was quoted all week hoping for a lead into the ninth to pitch Rivera, he had the IDEAL lead to get him a save and he panicked. There was probably a 95% chance IMO he would have pitched the ninth.

        • dmg

          when leyland had rivera get up in the bullpen to warm up, it was only 2-0, making it a little more credible that the nl might come back.

  • Dave

    With you 110% about the ASG never returning to Shea, and my attitude going in was extremely meh, still being a slightly premature grumpy old man over RA being snubbed as the starting pitcher last year. But by the time DWright resumed his rightful place as leading vote getter and then our Golden Boy named the starting pitcher, and then my boyhood idol as thethe pre-starter, I was all over it. Albeit from the sports betting parlor at a hotel in Vegas, where I watching on a screen the size of a highway billboard.

  • Marcy

    Like you, I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to sit in Shea field level seats, after years of sitting in the blue, green or (most of the time) the “nosebleed” section. Ok, so Shea’s not around anymore, but one of my wishes finally came true.

  • dak442

    Still giddy over my experience at Fan Fest, I ponied up for two tix in Promenade Section 503. As I see it, we host the All-Star Game every 50 years; I’m not all that confident of being able to attend the next time it comes around.

    My take on it was mixed. It wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. We got there very early and the heat was blistering, so after a cursory glance at BP the Missus and I grabbed a spot on one of the Worlds Fare Market picnic benches. I went to town – half a Mama’s hero, a sausage&pepper hero, a chocolate-covered (and blue/orange sprinkled) cannoli, and more 24 oz Bud Lights than were probably prudent. I was afraid we would miss the on-field ceremonies/entertainment, but… there weren’t any! There was close to an hour and a half between the end of BP and the beginning of the intros where absolutely nothing happened. It was oddly silent. It reminded me of the period after the last out of the last game at Shea. Surely they could have booked a high school band, or shown some old highlights on the screen.

    The intros, always my favorite part of the game growing up, were cool even though they screwed up the beginning of the AL and we never got to welcome Ventura back. The vociferous booing of Phils and Braves was hilarious, as was Cliff Lee’s reaction. Wright, Harvey and Seaver all got fine reactions, though I thought each would be longer and louder. I guess if half the stadium isn’t Met fans, that was the best you could hope for. That carried through the rest of the game. The fans in my section were all pretty quiet. Lets Go Mets chants were hard to start and didn’t last long. At least everyone hooted down the goof who kept trying to start a Wave.

    The game was disappointing, obviously. Other than Harvey, who was electric and had the crowd fired up for almost the only time. The Rivera stuff was actually tolerable live without Buck and McCarver gushing over the top. I stood and clapped; he’s an all-timer and exemplary individual. I’m pretty much back to my pre-2000 Yankee apathy; there are no villains or steroid cheats to really put effort into hating anymore, and they’re not that good these days.

    Today’s players have absolutely abysmal taste in music. With the exception of Joey Votto (“Paint it Black”), Steve Delobar (“Kick Start My Heart”) and one other reliever I can’t remember offhand, all their walkup/warmup tunes were execrable – guys shouting over drum machine noise. Where’s Chase Utley when you need him? These kids today with their bad music! I’m such an old coot.

    Was it really necessary to charge $35 for parking? At least they didn’t raise beer prices.

    In all, I’m glad I had the chance to finally go to an All-Star game. As a kid during the Years of Misery, the ASG was always a highlight – seeing the likes of Joel Youngblood and John Stearns mixing with the Big Red Machine and the other greats was such a charge. This game was really lacking a lot of star power with all the injuries and such – there were a lot of “Who?” stars. Granted I don’t follow the AL closely, but who the heck were some of those guys?!

    Alright – time for our wildcard push!

  • Ljcmets

    Aside from Harvey’s two innings, the highlight for me was seeing Seaver looking so well. Frankly, the last few times I saw him on camera were scary and I was beginning to think he wouldn’t make it to the Citi ASG. Loved his interview although it really should have been done between innings, not while the game was in progress. But G-d forbid there would be a few less commercials!

    Perhaps someone can clarify this, but I thought I read somewhere that Tom was supposed to be throwing to Piazza. It seemed that everything was leading up to that, including the Mets’ announcement that Mike was being inducted into their Hall and then seeing Piazza on camera Monday night. I was surprised to see Wright out there (although his obvioius delight in catching Seaver was a pleasure to see). Am I imagining this, or did something happen last minute to change the plans?

    After Harvey left, the game became almost intolerable to watch on TV. With the (excessively loud) commericals, the constant chatter of Buck and McCarver (I was shocked when they actually let the Rivera moment happen without talking over it) and the lack of any kind of offense basically on both sides (the two runs I saw were scored on a sac fly and a fielder’s choice, not exactly crowd pleasing plays), I decided to wait through Wright’s last turn at bat and call it a night. I was glad to see Wright get that base hit…he has been such a tireless supporter of the All-Star game, the city and the Mets…but I didn’t need to see more. I couldn’t believe Leland was at all worried about not having a bottom of the 9th – was he watching the same game I was? All in all, the home run derby ( which I forced myself to watch to conclusion for the first ever because, well, it was part of a Mets ASG, which I’ve never seen before and may never see again) was a lot more enjoyable than the actual game.

  • Theresa

    Am I the only one who was somewhat disgusted with the FanFest? First of all, the Javits center is a dump on the edge of nowhere, hardly a welcoming place for out-of-towners, hardly one that speaks well of our civic pride. Secondly, I just found the FanFest, if anything, to be aggressively celebrating baseball’s corporate sponsorships. And I’m just getting so sick of corporate advertising in my face everywhere I turn in my baseball life. I wish the corporations would just shut up and stop loudly congratulating themselves at every possible opportunity in my baseball life. I didn’t go to FanFest or any ASG activities to hear all about the wonderfulness of Chevrolet ad infinitum. I went to see something having to do with baseball.

    • O My My

      Out of curiosity, was it full of Military Recruitment Centers, too? – I see this so much in sports. It’s a shame the recruiters don’t realize the players are of enlistment age, too, not just the peons. They should set up their enlistment booths in the dugouts and clubhouses.

      And yes – it’s all a corporate hustle. My friend spent $1400 for a pairs of tix in 506 after renewing his useless plan tix for a few years in hopes of getting level 300 tix.

      The Mets and MLB did a long con on him.

      See all those empty seats behind home? Did they want $50,000 for those?

    • Will in Central NJ

      To Theresa and PenaciousH, there were ways to NOT spend a ton of money on the Fan Fest. My teen son and I had a great time. I got tickets for my son and myself for under $15 each on Stub Hub. I took the train in from central NJ, crossed the street from Penn Station to the bus stop at W34th Street and 8 Ave and took the M34 bus for $2.50 each way (10-15 min.). I heeded the ASG website FAQs and avoided crowds by attending Friday and Tuesday (and especially stayed away on Saturday and Sunday).

      I was a group leader to Shea/Citi Field for 11 years, but never bought a plan to ‘guarantee’ my seat at the ASG. Too often, the ASG is anti-climactic and I chose not to go. The Fan Fest is more bang for the buck.

      I carried a backpack filled with cards and memorabilia to sign, and deep under it all I had a homemade sandwich, fruit and a bottle of water. Security didn’t find my food; or more accurately, didn’t care to squeeze my rolled up David Wright jersey at the bottom to find the food.

      As for the middle of nowhere, the Javits Center is located away from congested, populated hotspots of Manhattan, so that one could park at the plentiful surface lots nearby if one insisted on driving to NYC from out of state or out of borough. It’s been there for 25 years, hosting thousands of trade shows over that time.

      If one planned things right, one could’ve obtained multiple autographs for free. I got Orosco, G. Perry, Otis, Cepeda, Fingers and Futures pitcher Archie Bradley (D-Backs) for free. A one hour wait at card shows is not too bad for a Hall of Famer or hometown hero (Orosco), to be honest. Two hours would be too much. But I spent about an hour (plus or minus) each. I ate my lunch while waiting on line so I didn’t waste time queuing or purchasing overpriced ballpark food, or sitting at a table. Multitasking, baby!

      I also got autographs from some ‘pop-up’ players who were not formal guests: Mike Cameron and retired NFLer Boomer Esiason. I just missed Met prospect Noah Syndergaard, John Franco, Willie Randolph, Steve Garvey, Jeff Nelson, Jim Duquette and Mark McLemore.

      I read online about the pin trading so I swapped away duplicates I had, and came away with some new 2013 ASG pins at no cost. And, I plan to visit Bob’s Stores, Kohl’s or Wal Mart in about a week where all the ASG t-shirts will be 40% off or more. I won’t know the difference when I see the shirt in my dresser a year from now.

      Corporate sponsors? They’re everywhere. MLB is corporate. Topps is corporate. SNY is corporate. That doesn’t bother me too much. It’s 2013.

      So there’s ways to get around the restrictions. I got swings in the batting cage, posed for mock baseball cards, got some free player autographs while missing out on some, was interviewed on, won some prizes, got some free stuff, chatted in line w/ other Met fanatics, and had a great and inexpensive time for under $125. If the Nationals get the ASG for 2015 or 2017, I’d consider going to DC specifically for the Fan Fest, again.

      • dmg

        modell’s already has its asg materials marked down 50 percent. and i agree that fanfest was fun — i bought little items, like three copper pennies with special citi field asg imprinting for 3 bux. you sound like you really did it the right way, and took advantage of the opportunities. i’ll pay more attention to the schedule next time i hit one, if i ever get the chance again.

        • dak442

          I thought FanFest was well worth it. I got two tickets for $10 each on the Manic Monday special sale. I went Sunday, and it was surprisingly uncrowded. Got there late so I didn’t have to wait outside to get in. I parked for free on West St two blocks away, in perhaps the biggest surprise of the day. I ate a big breakfast and went all day without eating, spending the money on a pound of brisket at Hill Country BBQ afterwards instead. I didn’t buy any overpriced ASG souvenirs, figuring I’d get them cheap afterwards. The only thing I bought was Felix Millan’s autobiography for $12, as much to support him as anything. Everything else I had signed was from my childhood stock (thanks Mom for not throwing out my baseball cards!).

          In other discount news, on the way home we stopped at Sonic. It’s Summer Shake time, all shakes 50% off after 8 PM. I had a Large Peanut Butter and Bacon shake for $2. Yes, peanut butter and bacon. Huge chunks of bacon mixed right into the shake. Oh. My. God.

      • I first experienced the Javits Center as a trade journalist a very long time ago. Security was trying to stop me from taking a picture of a display — at a trade show devoted, literally, to the industry that makes displays (for retailers) — and I lost my lens cap. So to wander in there, not be accosted by PR types with an agenda, not have to make small talk with business types who don’t want to be bothered, not have to collect bags worth of press kits and brochures…I get a perverse kick that an otherwise grim exposition center is being used to promote the game of baseball and put smiles on so many faces (if lift a few extra dollars from so many pockets).

        The food wasn’t an issue in 2008 when MLB’s fast food corporate partner was giving away free tacos at regular intervals. They’d ring a bell, we’d line up and…free taco! Though I no longer engage in such items, I was looking forward to a moratorium and getting my free taco again. I mean I seriously looked forward to it in that way people want to see Paris again. “Remember the free tacos?” Stephanie and I would ask each other for a half-decade. “Can’t wait for the return of the free tacos.”

        Well, no such luck — apparently one had to steal a base in order to earn a taco at one of the fun ‘n’ games areas, and at my replacement level (or potential hip replacement level), I’m not going to slide into anything that requires me to sign a waiver. I missed the free tacos.

        OTOH, my wife tried the pulled pork sandwich, long renowned as a personal favorite of Senator Javits.

        • Will in Central NJ

          To those who are so inclined to know, the architect for the Javits Center is the now-retired Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. He is also known for an international portfolio of work, including the glass John Hancock Tower in Boston; the glass pyramid addition to the Louvre in Paris; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. No word available as to whether Pei submitted a design for what’s now Citi Field!

  • metsfaninparadise

    I’m so glad I’m down here in Fla, so I wasn’t tempted to take out a loan so I could attend any/all of the festivities. $35 for parking? That’s worse than the Fish, and THAT’S hard to do. But it was great to see the house rocking amid all that blue and orange. Can’t wait til it’s a Mets team being celebrated. And especially glad Seaver’s health has returned.

  • PenaciousH

    Hey @theresa I’m with you re FanFest! I was severely underwhelmed too…Glad I was to something that was part of ASG Week…BUT as you said the place is in the middle of nowhere Who thought that was possible in Manhattan? And we went on gameday!
    I’m a lifelong Mets fan and Jersey resident, but I never been to that area of Manhattan and couldn’t believe how empty it was! And the FEST itself? Well we only met 1 old timer, Rollie Fingers and he wouldn’t sign autographs w/o a $20 donation (presumably for a good cause…) the maps of the place were bad and they didn’t have nearly enough help at the food stands…and while they were selling LOTS of stuff most of the hats and shirts were waaaay overpriced. A Nike cotton cap w an ASG logo on it was $30 there but on, 16! ( here’s the link: oh btw the price gauging was clearer when I saw the Aramark name on the bags bec I knew they gauge hat prices at Citi Field..
    So I bought a Harvey name # shirt that I couldn’t find in NJ… But the interesting stuff while good was often a retread of exhibits at the HOF../ and the interactive stuff? Long lines and too few things to entertain while on line (see Disney for ideas on how to do that)… So a big MEH! Tho I no longer have to wonder what it’s like at a Fan FEST! #LETSGOMETS

  • Richie

    Remember how proud we were of Lee Mazzilli back in 1979? This years game reminded me a little of how I remember feeling back then. As far as Tom Terrific goes, I actually thought Seaver looked pretty trim. He is getting up there in years. When he was getting ready to throw, home plate looked a mile away from the pitching rubber.
    As to the tone of your excellent piece, I do think Orange and Blue Skies lie ahead.