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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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I've Sat Everywhere, Man

How is it remotely possible that Shea and I got to its last year together without me and its bleachers making mutual acquaintance? It's no longer a relevant question because (cue the Colbertian fanfare), I DID IT!

So much excitement for sitting as far from home plate (non-vertically) as you possibly can, but it's been my mildly holy grail since 1979 when the bleachers first went up in left field. I've been almost haunted by them. That fall, eleventh grade, Joel and I took a bogus class called Business Law whose textbook offered a hypothetical verbal contract between two people regarding the resale of two tickets to “the bleachers at Shea Stadium,” which was strange because there had been no bleachers at Shea Stadium when the book was published. We informed our teacher of how bizarre we found this example. He didn't care. And neither did the Mets. The Mets couldn't just sell bleachers tickets like every other team that had a bunch of benches. They made it a thing…a generally unavailable thing.

I'll get there eventually, I thought. Sure, they say they're only for groups of 50 or more, but those bleachers have to open their golden chain link fence to the likes of me. I'll get with a group. I'll make 49 friends. I'll find a use for these seat cushions they keep giving me that would just be perfect under my rear end out there. I just know I'll reach those bleachers.

But I never did. Never did the Pepsi can-or-bottle thing after it became the Pepsi Picnic Area; just didn't have the Wednesday afternoons free to stand in line. Once in a while, usually when it was freezing and the Mets were putrid, would invite me to rush over if I printed something out. That didn't work for me either. But my chance will come. I know it will. I would go on to sit in Diamond View Suites and Metropolitan Clubs and right behind home plate and adjacent to a dugout and in front of Tommie Agee's marker and within peeling distance of the Apple and all the way up in Row V where the world doesn't get any higher. I'd sat everywhere except the one place I really wanted a crack at.

The seasons passed. The opportunities did not present themselves. Until today.

I wasn't attached to a group per se, except for the traditional all-star cast of Faith and Fear's extended family (Jason, Emily, Joshua). Our in was a fundraiser for the Epilepsy Foundation of Long Island, part of the Jack Lang Day festivities. For the first time I could remember, crashing the gates of the bleachers was as simple as buying a ticket, one that included a charitable component and a little buffet action.

Hell yes! Bleachers here I came!

I'm happy to report they didn't disappoint. They were as exotic as they were accessible. It was like being at Shea and having Shea in front of you and being in another Shea all at the same time.

Why did they hide this from me for nearly 29 years? I loved it for some reason. For many reasons, actually.

• There was the legendary picnic tent, at least from the time somebody handed me a bureaucratically tangled wristband until the setup was arbitrarily put away in the middle innings. It wasn't extravagant, but it was the picnic tent. All that was missing was Mike Piazza taking Ramiro Mendoza to its roof.

• There was the Keyspan sign not as an unimaginable target but as a tall neighbor.

• There were the championship flags over my left shoulder.

• There was a bathroom with no lines.

• There was Mr. Met, a pro's pro who gave Joshua a big league hug and his mom ample opportunity to fish out her camera. Honest to god, the difference between Mr. Met and Sandy the Seagull is the difference between the majors and single-A.

• There was a brief glimpse inside the Braves bullpen, a long enough look to cast an effective evil eye on the otherwise impenetrable Tim Hudson.

What I missed in sightlines to the infield was more than made up by understanding a little better what fly balls look like to the outfielders. We couldn't see DiamondVision but we heard it just fine. And when the organized fun of the eighth-inning singalong broke out (“I'm A Believer,” an honorable selection if you have to have one at all), it was kind of kicky when the ooohs boomeranged back at us from the regular seats.

The regular seats…how the other 99/100ths lived. Poor saps. They didn't get to stretch out in the sun. They didn't get to stamp their feet and make aluminum noise. They didn't get to wander around and around a four-row fiefdom like Joshua did. They didn't get not just their choice of ziti or pasta salad but BOTH! It may come as a shock to my system Sunday afternoon to learn the mezzanine doesn't offer the same all-you-can eat ethos.

It helps to be 1-0 in games at which I've sat in the bleachers. After Friday night's “don't just do something, stand there” approach to offense, I was wary that Saturday would wind up a wasted day in the Pepsi Panic Area. But, no, Gustavo Molina and the Mets used their allotted one inning of scoring to collect enough runs to withstand the slings and arrows of Braves dreaded and unfamiliar. John Maine gritted his teeth through five and it took a bullpen of millions to hold them back, but a win is a win — and though there were no shots over its fence, sitting at last in Shea's bleachers turned out to be a personal home run.

7 comments to I've Sat Everywhere, Man

  • Anonymous

    I got to go to the Diamond Club for the first time in 2006. Wasn't the original but it was the Diamond Club. Wasn't impressive except for the exhibits, but again, it was the Diamond Club.
    Got to the bleachers for the first time in 2007. Sunday day game against the Dodgers was switched to night for ESPN. It was rumored that a large group had canceled out due to the time change. Midweek email from Fred & Co and I had my ducat. In the last row of the bleachers I was at about the same height as the first row of the Loge.
    Having been to the two locations at Shea I never thought I'd get to as recently as the announcement of Citifield, I can say goodbye to the old yard in peace.

  • Anonymous

    on my list to do this year as well.

  • Anonymous

    I got to the Shea bleachers in 1999. I left work early got in with a Pepsi can. It was strange sitting out there. My next time was with a corporate event in 2000, Aramark. My company buys stuff from them and the mailroom guy got invited to their picnic/game event and he couldn't go, and he gave the tickets to me. THAT was a nice night. Food and drink were free, they got some Mets to come out and sign baseballs. I remember Rick White being especially gracious. I thanked him for coming out to sign the balls and he said, “No, thank you for coming out”. I thought that was classy. Another Met was Turk Wendall. I asked him what was the best way to cook and eat bear. He told me the kind of fire to build and how long to cook the meat and then told me to eat the burnt wood, because Bear meat was inedible. After that exchange I felt like a wiseass for asking the question and deserved his response. I won't forget that game. Mike Hampton gave up a homerun to a Phillie, and the Mets lost 1-0 in a September game that put a crimp in their division hopes and a sour feeling in my gut. But we know how that all turned out.
    I have sat pretty much everywhere in Shea. I've been in the Grill room, the Diamond club, the press level, a luxury suite, the diamond-vision room, the last row in the upper deck and right behind home plate under the net. I have even been in the nurses office with my then girlfriend-now wife and her severely sprained ankle. I will miss Shea greatly. Congrats on getting to the bleachers!

  • Anonymous

    Nice G, while I was comfortably chilled in the wind tunnel known as the Loge Reserve (Section 4, Row J) you finally checked the bleachers off your list!
    Went last season with the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes & Drums Band to the game against the Cards that was washed out.
    A few points to add, I love that “Long Ball Alley” that you can relax, have a beer and enjoy a Left Fielder's Eye View in underneath the bleachers.
    Also unlike other bleachers I noticed that you could, if you so desired for whatever reason (I had family that would be in the Loge that evening and went looking for them), go into the main ballpark. You weren't captive to your own private world for the entire game.

  • Anonymous

    There are probably going to be a couple of 'flushing flash' type $10 ticket days to the picnic area this year. I randomly ended up there (the first time since I was like 10) the last friday of last year(sigh), got their early enough for the end of batting practice, and poorly misplayed a homerun.(I've since tossed the glove and got a new one)
    It's all about the different angle. And if you walk to the far side and peek through the fence, you can see the back of the home run apple.

  • Anonymous

    Never sat in the bleachers but did catch some games from the subway platform – even though one could only see the right side of the field.
    Closest equivalent within Shea was section 33 of the loge reserved which is almost as far. That was Old Timer's Night back in 1970 and when Casey came out from the dugout I could hardly see him or the number 37 on the back of his jersey (that was the night he said most people his age were already dead).
    But those who prefer looking in from the outfield are going to love Citifield.

  • Anonymous

    Told ya, didn't i?