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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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Mookie, Davey…It's For Us

The latest indignity to be visited upon the ghosts of Shea past is being unleashed by the ghosts themselves if the Daily News' überdependable Adam Rubin is to be trusted. Rubin reported Sunday that Davey Johnson and Mookie Wilson turned down invites for the September 28 closing ceremonies at Shea. Our winningest manager and our longtime centerfielder, both crucial actors in the drama of 1986, are said to hold grudges against the Mets.

Rubin didn't specify their complaints. Things have always been a little prickly for Davey Johnson since he was fired as skipper in 1990, but he was warmly received on Old Timers Night in 1992 and was on hand when the Mets honored Gary Carter's Hall of Fame induction in 2003. He skipped the 1986 reunion two years ago but Mookie Wilson was front and center that night, despite having been let go as a coach following the 2002 season. Davey was recently busy with the Olympics and Mookie was last seen wearing a Cardinals ski cap during the '06 World Series as he rooted on stepson Preston. I have no idea if there are clues to be divined from any of this. I also don't much care.

I loved and love Mookie Wilson. I adored and adore Davey Johnson. But y'know what? If this is as simple as stubbornness on their part, feh on both of them. Not for all time, not for their track records as Mets, not for the past, but for this. If there's some greater issue pending, some kind of litigation between them and the team, then settle it now or briefly put it aside. It it's just bitterness or resentment or a slight that continues to rankle, get the fudge over it and get yourselves to Shea Stadium on September 28.

There comes a time when it's not about the Mets. There comes a time when it's about the Mets fans. Mookie, Davey, Nolan Ryan and Doc Gooden (also pegged an unlikely attendee, though I will continue to hold out hope until they pry the seat from my cold dead ass) are in the wrong here if indeed the Mets sent them an invitation to partake in the farewell of all farewells and they declined. Short of true human tragedy blocking their attendance, they have no business declining.

Instead of simply making like Riff Raff from Underdog — grabbing us by our ankles to shake the spare change from our pockets per usual — management has been uncharacteristically doing the right thing in advance of Closing Day. They've been reaching out to the individual Mets who made Shea Stadium what it's been for 45 seasons. They screwed up their official countdown horribly for too many of its first 55 dates, but they're fast compensating judging by the last homestand (20 to 16 revealed by Maxcine Agee, Bobby Ojeda, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez and Lee Mazzilli). Now they're trying to bring it all the way home. They're trying to make September 28 about more than nonrefundable deposits for 2009. They're trying to pay homage to the Mets from 1964 on.

So how dare any of those Mets not oblige? How dare Mets like Mookie Wilson and Davey Johnson not overlook their presumably petty complaints and not show up at Shea? They're not sticking it to the Wilpons if they don't come. They're sticking it to us, those who made them what they are. Without us, they'd still have been talented and accomplished. With us, they are larger-than-life and widely beloved. If that doesn't matter to them, too bad. You can wake up the morning of September 29 and go back to being steamed at whomever you're sore. But don't take it out on us. Don't rob us of our closure. Don't detract from our delusions that you ever cared about us except for the vague sense that we had something to do with your paychecks. Don't make us feel silly for the pedestals we erected and maintain on your behalf and how you apparently can't be bothered to stand tall on them for a couple of moments of cap-doffing and bow-taking.

Whatever beef you've got with the Mets should be transcended by the allegiance you've always gotten from Mets fans.

This goes for any Met who sits it out on September 28, the day the roster ideally expands to hundreds. It's wrong for Nolan Ryan to send his regrets. It's wrong for Doc Gooden to not strike out his demons for a day. It's wrong for Mookie Wilson and it's wrong for Davey Johnson. You don't belong to us, but your exploits did and our memories of you do. There will be one day when the stage where we cherished you has its curtain pulled down. That day is around the corner. It should be a day for celebration, not recrimination.

5 comments to Mookie, Davey…It's For Us

  • Anonymous

    So true, so true. I understand having a beef with your former employer (although I didn't know Mookie was in that spot), but just one time, you have to come back to bask in the love.
    I can understand if Bobby Bonilla doesn't want to come back, or Mel Rojas, or Armando Benitez; I wouldn't want to come back and be booed either. (Not that they would, but I'm just saying.) Mookie and Doc and Davey would get some of the strongest ovations of the night; that's too bad that they're letting the organization get in the way.

  • Anonymous

    Nolan Ryan is as big a Met icon as Amos Otis, as far as I'm concerned, so I won't miss him.
    Doc, if he can sober up and be out of jail, is welcome, but frankly I've written him off as well. I'll always have fond memories of '84 and '85, but too many lingering “What If's” detract from my appreciation.
    But Mookie, and Davey? C'mon! Are you guys nuts? What could possibly keep you two away? Davey may have been canned a bit prematurely, but I think his time had come. And Mook, you're one of the most beloved Mets ever! I imagine there may be some hard feelings over being let go as coach, but get over it!

  • Anonymous

    I don't know. I remember being invited to a big to-do for a past employer I'd parted on not so amicable terms with. Nothing would have made me let those particular bygones be bygones. It's been 10 years since I left, and I still wouldn't go back there if they offered me A-Rod money. Stuff happens sometimes in a job that makes the prospect of a reunion impossible and intolerable, no matter how much your former co-workers or clients etc. would love to see you. Those who stayed and loved it there could never understand the “petty grudge” I continue to hold, but their circumstances were not mine. They don't know what went on behind the scenes. So they have no business telling me to “get over it” when they have no freakin' idea what “it” is. Sometimes “it” is ungetoverable.
    Much as we like to think these guys carry our fickle selves in their hearts forevermore and they have orange and blue blood coursing through their veins, it was more often than not just a job to them… they've moved on, and the Mets were just one (sometimes more unpleasant than we either know about or want to admit) chapter in their lives, like my former employer. They generally hold no more allegiance to their former employer than we hold to ours–and their complaints may be much more than petty. Of course there are always exceptions, but yeah, it's a delusion. :-(
    But even taking the realistic view I tend to take on this matter doesn't stop me from feeling betrayed and freaked out when I see a former Met–who in my mind is A MET, AND THAT'S FINAL–representing some other team on TV or whatever, like he's ONE OF THEM. Like, “how could he? He's a Met! Did we mean nothing to him?” Well, no. We probably meant no more to him than the fans of this other team whose uniform he also wore, or he worked for, or what have you. It can be disorienting. And the reality of it truly sucks. It's like seeing an ex you thought for sure would carry a torch for you forever, happy with someone else a week later (“WTF?! Did I mean NOTHING to him/her?”)
    I hope they come back. I hope “lesser” Met heroes come back too–the day wouldn't be complete without the likes of Ventura and Pratt, either. But if they don't, or can't (they have circumstances and issues and families and obligations, too), I'll be disappointed and maybe even a little hurt… but not angry. That's just me, though. We all see this stuff differently; our own experiences and observations give us a different (different, not definitive) perspective. I'm just of the mind that we can't necessarily judge these guys' decisions based on what we have projected upon them; what we want or assume them to feel. We're not always going to be a priority to someone just because we think we should be… even if they are a priority to us. To hold it against them that they didn't live up to the image and emotions we've assigned them is a little unfair to them.
    (Yes, I know. I'm a Pollyanna. And I'm totally wrong. So what else is new?)

  • Anonymous

    Hey, in ten years lets celebrate the anniversary of the 08' NL title..I honor this frigging team daily….

  • Anonymous

    I can remember when Mookie was a rookie, I'd be sitting reading the Daily News back page in the Greek diner, and all the Greek waiters, cooks and busboys would all be rejoicing over whatever nifty thing “Moooookeeeeeee!” had done the night before.
    He was with us all the way, from the cellar to the clouds– He built the foundation, and he pushed us to the pinnacle in Game 6.
    The Mets have had some great players, and a couple of icons– OK, probably only one of those. But Mookie was our heart. Baseball had his heart and he had ours.
    Come back, Mookie, that one more time, so we can show you the love.