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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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Say It Ain't So, Sandy!

Joshua has fallen in love with the stuffed Sandy the Seagull Stephanie was kind enough to give him. (He insists on calling him “Sammy,” despite understanding that isn't his name — I'm think it's an homage to Casey Stengel.) So when he found out we were taking him to Keyspan yesterday to see the Cyclones, he was tremendously excited, chiefly because we assured him that yes, he would get to meet Sandy. (Interest in actual baseball is a bit more fitful, but it'll come.)

So we get in the park and Joshua wants to know where Sandy is. He sees him down on the field and wants to go down there that minute. No, I say, we can't meet him yet. But we'll try soon. After a brief sojourn in the bleachers, I take him into the main stadium, figuring I can intercept the mascot after one of his between-innings responsibilities. We go down behind home plate, just in time to see Sandy vanish down the tunnel. That's OK — it's a really hot day, we'll say hi when he comes out next inning. The security guy is very nice to us and lets us stay — in fact, he's happy to have us sit in the best seat in the house. The Cyclones cheerleaders are also very nice to us, chatting and admiring Joshua's PLAY BALL shirt. Sandy, they say, is having a bird bath. Time drags on, Joshua is getting fractious and wants his mom, so reluctantly I abandon our post and take him back to the bleachers. Lots of game left to play, we'll check in with the mascot later. On the way back to the bleachers we do run into Pee Wee, Sandy's pal. Pee Wee is great: He pretends to drink from Joshua's sippy cup, gives him a hug, slaps five with him. We see him again a few minutes later and Joshua is very concerned that Pee Wee is thirsty. Pee Wee instantly stops, remembers, pretends to drink again and hugs the kid, who's thrilled. (Pee Wee's kindness will soon prove important.)

But after a time in the bleachers, Joshua wants to meet his hero again — and from across the park I can see Sandy's returned from beneath the stands. This time Emily and her pal Brooke undertake the mission. They're gone like 20 minutes. When they return, Emily has spots in her cheeks and a gunfighter's glower. Uh-oh.

Turns out they'd gone back behind home plate and been nicely allowed to wait right outside the tunnel while Sandy attended to various giant-seagull duties. When Sandy turned their way, Emily got his attention, started to talk to Joshua — and the mascot tapped his big feathery wrist and strode right past them. “You should have seen Joshua's face,” Emily says, seething. Memo to the PR people of the world: You don't ever want to hear a kid's mother say that in that tone of voice.

Luckily, Joshua's young enough to be distracted: Ice cream and chatter about Pee Wee put him back in a good mood. Minutes later, he was happily thumbing through a Cyclones program pointing out pictures of Sandy and saying how much he loved him, and somehow that felt worse than the cold shoulder. I mean, I'd worried that Joshua might one day get a less-than-kind brush-off from some surly Met. I'd wondered how I'd explain it, and if I could ever root for that player again. But from a mascot? At two years old? I'm generally pretty cynical, but I never expected that.

Look, Sandy, I know you're busy. I know it must be hot as hell in there. I know maybe you see the mom with the camera and think it's gonna take too long, and maybe you're right. I know it's hard to see and you're not allowed to talk and that makes it harder. But Jeez, tousle the kid's hair, kiss him with your beak, then point at your wrist and touch your chest in apology. That would've taken, what, 10 seconds? And Joshua would have been so thrilled that I guarantee we'd be explaining why we can't go to the Cyclones every night. (We did get a picture of Joshua with Sandy when he was up in the concourse near game's end. I hovered nearby wondering what I'd do if my wife clocked a mascot. Not exactly a warm moment: In contrast to Pee Wee, the Seagull could barely be bothered to put his hands on Joshua's head. Emily was not mollified.)

During a summer internship a million years ago I dated the office receptionist. She kept getting in trouble for being rude to angry callers and thought this was unjust, complaining that “taking shit from people isn't my job.” She was pissed at me when I pointed out that, actually, that was about 90% of her job. If Sandy was rushing off to interrupt the countdown of a backpack nuke discovered underneath the stadium, then I apologize. (And good show, homes.) But failing that, I can't really imagine what duties a New York-Penn League mascot had that were more pressing than taking a moment to be nice to a little boy.

10 comments to Say It Ain't So, Sandy!

  • Anonymous

    Aren't you glad Steph chose “Sammy” over the Party Marty Action Figure? You know how that works: Pay him a little attention and he never shuts up. By the fourth inning, Josh would be tapping his own wrist, feathery or otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Greg. It could be far worse. It could be Party Marty.
    I bought a stuffed Sandy for my niece in 2001, and to this day I think it looks more like a vulture than a seagull… does it still? I kept calling him Sandy the Vulture. But I happen to like vultures (the bird kind, not the human kind), and this one is giving vultures a bad name with his obnoxious behavior.
    I suspect he's a Met fan.

  • Anonymous

    Suffice to say, as an organization we are about as adept at developing mascots as we are power hitters.
    Cow-bellman is the best we've got.
    'Nuff said.

  • Anonymous

    I take exception to that. Mr. Met rocks.

  • Anonymous

    Needless to say, the $32 Sandy jersey — which would have been a must-have purchase before this unfortunate incident — remained unbought.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like Kenny Rogers found a day job.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you guys let the Cyclones know about this. You could score yourself some free tickets/stuff.
    You know, that was really unforgivable. That person is employed solely to entertain and cater to the fans–especially the children. That's ALL Sandy exists for, and he couldn't take a second to make a child happy? This is like Ronald McDonald refusing to talk to a kid at McDonald's. Hello, that's what you're HERE for!

  • Anonymous

    To each his or her own, Laurie.
    As a frequent denizen of the Loge Reserved, I've never crossed paths with Mr. Met. Maybe if I one day sit down in the orange seats, or Upper Reserved and get the “Frozen Pizza Seat Upgrade” I'll get to meet the old boy. The fact that Mr. Met remains about as approachable and accessible as a late-in-life Jackie Onassis renders him lame as mascots go, IMO.
    He is, however, WAY better than that circa 1979 donkey that used to circle the warning track.

  • Anonymous

    If the Cyclones do read it, all I'd ask is that they talk to the folks who don the Sandy suit and remind them that “Hey, it's 10 seconds you may not feel like you have on a brutally hot afternoon, but it may the only thing that little kid's talked about all day. So if you're a second late for the dizzy-bat race, we'll cut you some slack.”
    I'm hoping it was just a blip — we love going to Keyspan, and we'll be back. In 4+ years of going there, I'd never had a bad experience, and never had anyone there not be nice to me, Emily or Joshua. It's just too bad that the one time it happened was the one time it meant so much to my kid.

  • Anonymous

    That would be really funny.
    “You're getting awfully close there, you know that? … I bet you're proud of yourself, getting ice cream on me. … You're two. Yeah. That's just your excuse.”
    OK, really funny in abstract.