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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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That’s Life

Of the 25 fine reasons to read Game Of My Life: New York Mets, perhaps the one that comes out of the farthest reaches of left field is the best. That’s the chapter author Michael Garry devotes to Eric Hillman.

Eric Hillman you probably remember if you were an active Mets fan between 1992 and 1994. The “game of his life” — a Sunday afternoon shutout at Dodger Stadium — you would need a very good reason to specifically recall. But Hillman was a Met for three years when the Mets weren’t very good, he beat L.A. when he was completely on, and thus it makes for an element worth telling within the larger Met story. Hillman is a character worth revisiting, especially when you learn, via Garry’s reporting, what the rest of his life’s been like, particularly a moment when he reconnected with a fan from his playing days.

You don't have to be a David Wright to have a great Mets story to tell.

You don’t have to be a David Wright to have a great Mets story to tell.

I won’t tell you what happened, but it’s a beautiful coda to the career of a Met you likely haven’t thought of lately. Game Of My Life has episodes like those sprinkled throughout, catching you up on an eclectic array of 25 Mets who laid down their historical markers between the 1960s and the 2010s. I’m guessing Garry’s publisher probably pushed him to pursue the biggest names possible (in his introduction he describes in detail who he went after and how his success rate varied), but the real treat lies within the chance to check in on Eric Hillman’s good day at Dodger Stadium; Anthony Young before he became known for an almost endless string of losses; Al Jackson, who keeps on instructing Met youngsters more than a half-century after he was one himself; and a few more guys you might or might not expect to read up on in a volume like this.

Garry gives us time with 1969 World Series Game Two hero Ed Charles, who we know never disappoints in his recollections. He drops in on Wally Backman, who takes us back to the day the Mets wouldn’t leave the Astrodome until 16 innings of heartstopping, pulsating baseball resulted in a New York pennant. He provides Bobby Jones an opportunity to piece together his clinching one-hitter from the 2000 NLDS. He shows us that not every “game of my life” is obvious when Daniel Murphy skips the opportunity to emphasize himself and prefers to retrace the final Saturday at Shea, Johan Santana’s breathtaking three-hitter to keep the 2008 Mets mathematically alive, the last time (until now, we hope) Daniel played for a contender. Murph doesn’t know it, but in doing so he echoes Buddy Harrelson, who chooses the day the Mets won it in all against the Orioles as the game of his life, even though Harrelson wasn’t one of the stars of glorious Game Five.

The book hits every era of plenty in Mets history and several of the eras of less-so. Each of the 25 players profiled (most of whom sat and talked to Garry, though a handful of chapters had to be cobbled from outside accounts) is given a respectful hearing and adds something to the overall theme. Our narrator presents himself as a lifelong Mets fan and gives the proceedings a light, loving touch.

We recently spent eleven consecutive games celebrating our ongoing affection for the Mets. Regardless of how often we’ll get to do that on a going basis for the rest of this season, Game Of My Life will give you plenty of cause to celebrate your fandom all over again

11 comments to That’s Life

  • Michael G.

    Thank you, Greg! Hillman was probably the most outspoken of my interviewees, telling it like it was on the early 90s Mets.

    Faith and Fear readers: Greg was a constant supporter and an invaluable resource as I pursued interviews with Mets players and did the research for the book. His own books (and, of course, Faith and Fear itself) served as an inspiration and a treasure trove of Metsian lore and info.

  • Dave

    Sounds like a must-read. I remember Hillman very well, he was about 6’10”-6’11, which in baseball feet and inches is about 8’2″, and we thought after the Game Of His Life that we had another Randy Johnson on our hands. Suffice to say we did not.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    Any book that takes time to speak to the likes of AY and Hillman deserve my money, so I will definitely be picking up a copy. Hillman is still the tallest Met ever, no? Didn’t he fall down the dugout steps somewhere a few years after he left New York, or was that some other huge pitcher?

  • APV

    I might pick this book up just to learn exactly what Hillman thought about Dallas Green.

    Good on Murph to think team before himself. I have a Murph game that he could have chosen for this book: June 27, 2012, Mets at Cubs. Mets dominate at Wrigley 17-1, with him going for 3 for 5 with 2 HRs and 4 RBIs. He wasn’t the only Met to have himself a day that day (David had 5 RBIs, and Ike and Hairston each had 4 as well), but that might have been Murph’s greatest offensive performance as a Met.

  • One of my favorite interviews is Sportstalk NY’s talk with Eric Hillman from three years ago. Great stories from his experiences in the U.S. and Japan here.

    • APV

      Wow. Just listened to that interview and Hillman did not disappoint in his absolute derision of Dallas Green. Well deserved too. Thanks for the link. “I knew they stacked [bleep] that high, I didn’t know they stacked it that wide.”

      By the way, if the 1992 Mets were The Worst Team Money Can Buy?”, then the 1993 Mets were The Worst Team That Truly Didn’t Give a F About How Bad They Were.” I hate that team so much, and say that knowing certain members of the 86 championship team were still there. I wasn’t a big Hillman fan in his playing days but see now he really wasn’t to blame. And good on him for taking Bobby Bo to the woodshed too.

  • open the gates

    I’ve said before (although not here) that you could sum up the disappointment of unreasonable expectations by saying the names of three Met pitchers: Holman, Hillman, and Heilman.

    Still, Eric Hillman (and the other aforementioned pitchers) did something 99.99% of human beings never did – they won games in the major leagues.

    I’m looking forward to reading thus book. Sounds like a real treat.

  • […] Ed Kranepool knows something about Mets teams overcoming unflattering perceptions, let alone daunting margins. Listen to what he has to say when he joins Michael Garry, author of Game Of My Life, at the Book Revue in Huntington, Monday night at 7 PM. Michael and Ed will be talking Mets history and signing copies of that very fine book. […]