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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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Mets Stuff Worth Knowing About

Need a Father's Day, graduation day, birthday, whatever day item? Just want to enhance your sense of Metsian self? Several items have crossed our proverbial desk of late that are worth your knowing about, perhaps worthy of adding to your baseball library, your baseball wardrobe or your baseball life.

The Faith and Fear T-Shirt

OK, I'm cheating a bit by leading off with this one because it's not new. Rather, it is the classic illustration of the Mets' four retired uniform numbers: 37, 14, 41 in Flushing orange, 42 in Flatbush red. Many of you have treated yourselves to FAFIFwear and are happier for it. Many have you denied yourselves. I feel bad for you if you're in the latter category. We recently heard through the shirtvine that some of you are waiting for an updated shirt that reflects the yet unretired number of Mike Piazza. I personally have been waiting for the Mets to retire the numbers of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez for many a season, yet I enjoy my FAFIF shirt at every opportunity. As does Jason. As does this gal and this guy and this kid just about everywhere he goes. The Mets do not move with the dexterity of a lizard in numerical matters, so my heartfelt, objective recommendation is to not let year upon year go by without honoring the sacred memories of Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver and Jackie Robinson, just as the left field corner of Shea Stadium has since 1997. (We are aware of the honorary retiring of the name SHEA as well, but we're sabermaticians when it comes to shirts: we deal in numbers.) To gander, mull and, if you are so moved, order the classic Faith and Fear shirt, go here. The price is $17.31, so it's not like Mex and Mike aren't involved with the shirt in a very real way. As for Willie, you get 24 thank yous from Jason and me for your time and consideration.

Gary, Keith & Ron

Our beloved SNY announcers are lending their names and images to a shirt concern of their own, operated by Lynn Cohen, to raise funds for charities near and dear to them. I chose the “It's Outta Here!” model and it's sharp, I tell you what. The best part is you don't have to wait for Carlos Delgado to get into a power groove to wear it. Coupon code “yodaddy” will fetch you a 15% discount through June 15. Shirt-buyers are eligible to buy $10 tickets to Gary, Keith & Ron Day at Shea, July 10. Check it all out here. (Dana Brand has a nice story about meeting Lynn at his blog. Dana Brand also continues to have a wonderful book here.)


My friends at the Crane Pool Forum get their Forest Hills on with merchandise that — Gabba Gabba Shea! — honors Mets history in the sedated style of Joey, Johnny, et al. I really like the “Grote” part of the shield. Check 'em out here.

Working at the Ballpark

From the same publisher who brought us the perpetually awesome Mets By The Numbers comes an insider's look at the game from those who work every angle of it: players and coaches, yes, but also the media, the scouts and the stadium personnel. I meant to mention this last Friday when I related the story of my brother-in-law the onetime Shea vendor but, well, forgot. For what it's worth, author Tom Jones found peanut and beer guys who seem less hostile about their ballpark jobs than my sister's husband was. But their tales are entertaining nonetheless. Find out more here.

101 Reasons to Love the Mets

We don't seem to have been favored with a full-out coffee table book to remember Shea by (we deserve something along the lines of this imperial tome which, it pains me a little to admit, is spectacular if you love pictures of ballparks, even ballparks that are homes to teams you can't stand), but 101 Reasons is a nice, colorful history volume, arranged chronologically and written breezily. If you have a small coffee table, it's perfect. Look into it here. (This is not to be confused with the compelling text that is 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, which you should also have by now, I should hope. Acquire them simultaneously and you'll be up 201 things and reasons over the less informed fan.)

The New York Mets: Ethnography, Myth and Subtext

I read this during the winter and held off on writing it up because, quite frankly, I'm not over the moon about it despite the intriguing title (and picture of Endy on the cover). I'm not sure I share much of Richard Grossinger's worldview on what it means to be a Mets fan — he's a little dour and a bit uncomfortable that he's devoted chunks of his life to such a lightweight concern — but he certainly gives the matter some thought and his story about working with Terry Leach is fairly gripping. Investigate further here.

Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards

The latest edition of this glossy, glatt set is out and it's a beaut, featuring a salute to Hank Greenberg on the 75th anniversary of the rookie year of the original Hammerin' Hank. Met angles include new cards for Shawn Green and the surprisingly undepressing Scott Schoeneweis. You don't have to be Jewish to love Jewish Major Leaguers 2008. Kosher, collector or otherwise, they're a world of fun. Flip through 'em here.

Heckuva Day

The makers of the enchanting documentary Mathematically Alive are working on a new film, one in which Mets fans can wax rhapsodic (or, I suppose, vitriolic) about their Shea experiences. Info on their next group shoot here if you want to share your perspective for posterity. Chance to purchase their first DVD here.

The New York Mets: Essential Games of Shea Stadium

These discs, covering Game Four '69 WS; Game Three '86 NLCS; Game Six '86 WS; Game Five '99 NLCS; 9/21/01's return to NYC baseball; and Wright's walkoff hit that beat Rivera (plus worthy extras), deserve a more thorough going over, but a glimpse through the box's contents — I fast-forwarded immediately to the bottom of the fifteenth of the Grand Slam Single game — indicates a Mets fan wouldn't want to live without this set for very long. We all know every Mets game played at Shea is essential. I don't know that these are the six most essential the ol' ballpark has hosted (presumably rain delay favorite May 19, 2006 ranks as one of the most available for transfer to digital video), but you can't go wrong with any of 'em. Rumor has it Faith and Fear may be giving one or two away in the near future, but winning DVDs from us is never easy…certainly not as easy as enjoying a Faith and Fear shirt this summer (which is super easy). Essential viewing and ordering detail is here.

11 comments to Mets Stuff Worth Knowing About

  • Anonymous

    Great suggestions Greg – I actually need to shop for a gift for my dad, and you've given me some good suggestions.
    BTW, here's another suggestion for the list. Mathematically Alive, A Story of Fandom is available on DVD from the website.

  • Anonymous

    Oops – in quick scanning, I saw Heckuva Day mentioned but didn't notice Mathematically Alive in the text. Please feel free to zap the previous comment (as well as this one).

  • Anonymous

    I dunno…it's like you're related to someone in the movie ;)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, like that ;)

  • Anonymous

    I finished Grossinger's book couple weeks ago and am similarly tepid in my enthusiasm. On the one hand I think he nailed right on the head why so many of us are rabid fans – because it gives those of us who lead humdrum lives and/or are incapable of much feeling and emotion in our personal relationships an outlet for emotion and something to love. But then he goes on to assert that Mike Piazza is just a “good” player as part of his tirade against imported stars (he insists we should have kept Preston Wilson, and would have been better off with Hubie Brooks than Gary Carter). Plus, how much credence can you put in a guy who started off a huge Yankee fan, kind of randomly became a Met fan, dropped them for a while, picked them back up,and at the time of book publication admits he doesn't much care about baseball anymore and is a bigger fan of the NJ Nets?
    The Missus has been asking me what I want for Father's Day. Think I'll direct her to the t-shirt aisle; I'll spring for another when #31 is added.

  • Anonymous

    I kept shouting at the book, “You were around in the '50s! You could have rooted for the Giants! You could have rooted for the Dodgers! You rooted for them?”
    The Mike stuff was a big turnoff (a la Paul Lukas). When he listed all the players he loved who the Mets dared to get rid of and included Brady Clark (the first time), I thought this was a guy who was just looking up and down rosters and searching for reasons to act peeved.

  • Anonymous

    I don't have the book wth me at work so I am paraphrasing, but he went on to say something to the effect of Piazza never doing much in the clutch. WHAT?! I've been meaning to write and ask him for elaboration on this preposterous statement.
    OK, we get it… he read Baseball America or whatever minor league papers were around, and knew all the Mets prospeccts. But pining away for the likes of Terry Bross is certainly an unorthodox theme. (Though yeah, I wish Melvin Mora had stuck around).

  • Anonymous

    Grossinger on Piazza (I looked it up after he retired):
    Mike Piazza, the epitome of the millennial New York Mets, a huge numbers and power guy around whom nothing ever jelled; a bogus catcher (he needed a position), he couldn't throw out base runners if his life depended on it… he was a hard guy to see past, sucking all the energy without converting that charisma into championship-level leadership… yes, Piazza was good, but he wasn't a difference-maker; he was more noise and hoopla than clutch or bottom line.

  • Anonymous

    I think Grossinger is completely wrong and I don't see how you could have watched that player and that team and have come to those conclusions. If I may, by way of contrast, and in case anyone is still looking for Father's Day gifts, here is what I wrote about Piazza in Mets Fan:
    At the end of the 2005 season, the Mets did not re-sign Mike Piazza. You had the sense that Omar Minaya wanted him to go, as he had wanted Leiter to leave the year before. This had been Mike Piazza’s team and it could not be any longer. It had to be something different now.
    More than any Mets player except Seaver, Piazza had created and defined an entire era of Mets history. He lifted an exciting but wobbly team to the point where it thought that it was as good as the Braves and destined to beat the Yankees in the World Series. The team wasn’t as good as that, but Mike was great enough to allow us the pleasure of the illusion. He had a glamour and an explosive talent that was like nothing we’d seen since the Eighties. I will always cherish the fact that for seven years, I got to watch the career of one of the best right-handed hitters since DiMaggio, the best hitting catcher in history.
    Piazza was a gentle and modest superstar. His skills were enormous, but he seemed to stand in the background behind them, like a parent, expecting you to look at them and not him. Sure he knew you were also looking at him. How could you not? He was handsome and perfectly formed and he stood more firmly on the ground than anyone else. But he looked as if he had no interest in being a star. He was only interested in smacking the ball where it needed to go, and controlling the game from behind the plate with his steady force and will.
    In more than forty years of watching baseball, I don’t think I’ve seen anything as beautiful as Piazza’s short miracle of a swing. It made no physical sense. It was too short to send a ball that far, but like a swift, silent explosion, it did. When Piazza came to the plate you leaned forward to see the swing. You kept your eyes focused on the spot where his arms and the bat would be and you prepared yourself to see the split second of contact and to shift your gaze to the long path of the ball’s flight. You got ready to stand. On every pitch. If it didn’t come, you didn’t mind because you knew it would come soon. And when it came, you felt yourself seeing and remembering it at the same time, because you knew you were watching something rare and unique and that once he could no longer do it, you would never see anything exactly like it again.
    I loved to watch Piazza catch. I loved the energetic confidence of his crouch, and the surprising speed of his springing up after foul pops. I loved how he would stand on the mound with his mask off and everyone would look straight at him, as if he were the captain, the main guy, the only one who could make things right. His arm, as everyone knows, was not as strong as a catcher’s arm needed to be. And as he got older, he didn’t throw out many runners. Yet one of the things I liked most about watching Piazza play was seeing his face after he failed to throw a runner out. He had that sad, determined grimace, a twitch of his closed mouth, with his eyes focused straight ahead. He wasn’t surprised, but he wasn’t resigned. When he did throw out a runner, he looked pleased, but he also looked as if he knew that next time he probably wouldn’t.
    Maybe it was vain of Mike to catch for so long. But I was glad he got the catcher’s home run record. He was even better than Bench and Fisk and it was good to mark that with a number. I thought it was inspiring that Mike was so devoted to the craft of catching that he wouldn’t let it go. He revered his work and he wanted all of the catchers in the future to know that he had been there. Playing his position near the end, Mike was as eager and as hopeful as a rookie. But he was a thoughtful grown up who could not fool himself. His dignified disappointment wasn’t always a happy thing to watch, but it was as much worth seeing as his home runs.
    The fans loved him, without any reservations. At Shea, you’d see and you will see forever the number 31 on bent backs and little backs, on broad backs and narrow backs. No one should ever wear that number in that uniform on our field again. He won us all over, with his bat and his heart and the beauty of his play.
    Mike gave us the great years of 1999 and 2000. And he gave us the small spasms of hope we had in the years after that. He was one of the greatest players ever. And he grew older. He’d get bunged up, and he’d be out of the lineup, and he couldn’t lift the team any longer. I wish we had held those one-run leads in the bottom of the eighth and tenth innings of the sixth game of the 1999 Championship series against Atlanta. I wish we had shown the Yankees something to fear in the 2000 World Series. Just three or four games tilting the other way would have given the Piazza era a more satisfying flavor in the memory. But it was fine as it was, and by 2005, it was time to move on.

  • Anonymous

    I'm sorry. I may have overreacted, but that quote by Grossinger really got me angry.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I rather enjoyed reading your take on Mike again.
    Reviewing stuff as a blogger as opposed to as a critic, I generally take the “if you can't say something nice…” route when there's something I don't like, provided it's pretty obscure to begin with. That is, I just as soon let it fade away and not call attention to it (there have been exceptions). But I did accept the review copy of that other book and felt compelled, after many months, to acknowledge that I read it and say, in so many words, “eh”. I could go deeper on it, but to tell you the truth, a lot of it really got me angry, too.
    There should be loads of books about the Mets. Some, given the sheer mathematics of it, are not going to be great. Mets Fan does not have that problem. And yes, it does make a great Father's Day or any day gift!