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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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A Daughter, Her Dad and Their Mets

The Mets are about to begin their season and we Mets fans are about to begin it with them. I know we thought we’d be three games deep into this new year by now, but better late than never.

What will 2021 bring? In terms of wins and losses, we’ll see. In terms of what stays with each of us over the long haul, probably a lot more than we realize. Everybody processes these seasons personally and continually. I’m pretty sure two of the main reasons we keep coming back is for what it connects us to in the past and for what it will connect us to in the future. I got a renewed sense of that eternal baseball truth from a message sent our way recently by a lifelong Mets fan named Stephanie Pianto. She’d recorded some thoughts a while back about her fandom, specifically as it pertained to the relationship she treasured with her late father Salvatore. I asked if she’d permit us to publish them and she was kind enough to agree.

For everybody who’s loved the Mets…and for everybody’s who’s loved loving the Mets with somebody else who’s loved the Mets…we proudly share Stephanie’s essay.


Baseball starts again soon with a meaning that changed for me four years ago. That season, the 2017 season, began with the death of my father directly after Opening Day weekend. It was the first year I made the leap to becoming a season ticket holder for the first and, as it turned out so far, only time. That decision was made the previous September when the Mets were heading into the postseason for the second year in a row. It was also around then I made the decision to move out on my own and for the first time live completely independently without a significant other or spouse; no kids, no siblings, no parents. That season ticket included access to the 2016 postseason plus every Sunday home game and a few other choice games during the next season. I could see far into the future a life where I spent every spring and summer Sunday at Citi Field in rain or shine.

You see, my love of baseball was a gift that had been handed down to me by my father and my cousin. I felt a part of something when we talked ball. It especially cemented a bond between me and my father — a bond that included carpentry, auto mechanics and bar life. A little blonde petite girl I was, but to him I was “his boy,” being the oldest of two daughters. So, feeling a great sense of accomplishment, I plunked down my $1,500 to sit amongst the diehards and the naysayers and truly become a part of the season ticket universe. At 54 years old, it was a sort of retirement in my mind.

October 2016 came around and the Mets blew their one-chance Wild Card game, ending that season as they had almost every other season: defeated (though I did keep my ultimately unused World Series tickets and the box they came in). Yet I couldn’t be totally let down, because I was graduating to a new identity, as a season ticket holder — with a VIP card and everything come April! Trade talks and rumors abounded just like every year, but it held a new significance now, as if I were on the payroll or the board of directors or something. I had arrived at a point in life where I could say I was in control of my destiny and part of that destiny was spending as much time as I wanted to watching the Mets from my own personal reserved seat. It was exhilarating.

But we all know how life is.

Crushing news came that winter when my father was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Baseball really wasn’t on my mind at this time, and I began to summon up the fortitude for the most difficult role I’d yet to play, to be the hand of strength and guidance to my dad. He was “my boy” now.

Cancer is a terrible disease. I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail. Everyone has been around someone who has suffered its pitiless, marauding rampage. Watching my father become a helpless child, sometimes calling out for his deceased mother in his sleep and at other times trying to defy the strict bounds that the disease had placed on his freedom, made me realize how much I don’t have control over anything. I kept a poker face so I could keep him from reading the fear in my heart, telling him next summer I’m going to bring him to one of the games. I navigated him through well-wishing friends and relatives with their miracle cures and their sometimes obvious grief when they came to visit him toward the end and saw his obviously withering life. Everyone’s intentions were pure, but there was no simple way to accept death’s inevitable knocking on the door.

In the spring of 2017 my sister and I held his hands on his hospice bed as his pulse and breath halted. We let him leave this earthly realm to hopefully reunite with the loved ones he had been dreaming about every night toward the end.

So, now my story turns back to baseball and why it means so much to me.


The Mets’ opening weekend of 2017 was the last weekend my father was in his home, the last time I spent with him in his nest, surrounded by our memories. I forfeited going to every game that weekend except for Opening Day because that was the tie he and I shared. He was proud of me, “his boy,” going to the stadium all by myself, something he himself had done in his youth, and carrying on the tradition of something we loved together. Growing up, I idolized my dad. He was always the “coolest” guy and had a lot of that Italian swagger. He grew up in Brooklyn and Queens and was originally a Dodgers fan but adopted the Mets since they played right in his backyard (and he would never, never be a Yankees fan). From as far back as I can remember, wherever he was was where I wanted to be. On Saturdays and Sundays when I was growing up in the 1960s, that meant our Long Island home, when he was right in front of the TV with my uncle and my grandfather watching the Mets on Channel 9.

My two cousins Tom and Barbara, who were older than me, and I loved to sit around with the old guys and listen to their animated critique of every player, every play and every umpire’s decision. One minute they’d be calling everyone a bum, and then in another minute they’d be jumping up out of their seats in the den and beaming with joy at the incredible talent and good judgment of the whole lot of them. It was funny to hear the nicknames or attributes my father and uncle would come up with. For instance, Eddie Kranepool “runs like a baby elephant” (sorry Eddie, if you’re reading this, we love you and you’re a treasure). Or, overemphasizing the vowels in “Cleooooooon Jones” when he’d make a great catch or deliver a run. But we never touched Seaver or Koosman. Those guys were always given the utmost respect.

In the 1970s there was no chance I’d ever get to play baseball on a team, being female. And softball was out of the question. Nevertheless, I would spend hours talking technique with my dad and he’d give me pointers on how to judge a strike as he lobbed ’em in slowly to me on the front lawn. He even taught me to throw righty because as a lefty I would catch the ball in my left hand and drop my mitt to throw the ball. He said you can’t do that, so pick which hand you’re gonna do what with. I have to say I had a pretty good arm, and when I played catch with the neighborhood kids, they were impressed at how hard I could throw…and with considerable accuracy!

Even after I had moved out of the house and married in the 1980s, the phones would immediately be ringing between me, my dad and cousin when the Mets scored a run or made a stupid play. No matter where we were, we were always connected if there was a game on. If any of us was fortunate enough to be at a game, we’d call each other from the stadium and report on what was going on in the crowd.

So when I left from his house that Opening Day four years ago to get on the LIRR and head for Flushing, I was taking my dad with me in spirit because I knew how helpless he felt being bedridden at that point.

And I did something else which I knew was meaningful to him. I wore my cousin’s 1980s-era royal blue satin jacket with the embroidered Mets logo to the game. My cousin Tommy, one of our original gang of weekend warriors, was my first baseball hero, playing TriVillage Little League in Huntington at shortstop when we were kids. He was the “catch” partner to my father and me whenever we constituted a trio. Tommy had passed away at the age of 33 from cancer. After his death in 1993, I didn’t watch baseball for a very long time. For years. It wasn’t the same knowing he wasn’t also watching from somewhere and calling with updates on the score or to tell me to put the game on because they have a rally going. It wasn’t until I was dating a guy who was a Mets fan and started taking me to games in 2010 that I began to get back on the horse. By 2017 it was my duty to show my dad that things will go on. Things will be remembered. He will be remembered.

Baseball definitely hasn’t stopped for me without my dad as it did when my cousin Tommy died, even though I’ve moved away from the immediate Metropolitan Area and haven’t been back to Citi Field since the year I had those season tickets. I still watch and listen to the games (sometimes with my two-year-old grandson who has a particular leaning to the colors of orange and blue). My dad left an indelible stamp on me. I still celebrate every strikeout, every error and every home run as testimony to our enduring love.

To my daddy, and to baseball.

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