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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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Living in the Moments

Welcome to Flashback Friday: I Saw The Decade End, a milestone-anniversary salute to the New York Mets of 1969, 1979, 1989 and 1999. Each week, we immerse ourselves in or at least touch upon something that transpired within the Metsian realm 40, 30, 20 or 10 years ago. Amazin’ or not, here it comes.

The greatest moment in the history of Citi Field is yet to come. When the first pitch is thrown, that will be No. 1. When something of a substantive Met nature occurs, that will take its place. And then we’ll be off to the races.

You’ll recall there was a vote to determine the greatest moment in the history of Shea Stadium last year. Ten legitimately great moments were chosen from a flawed ballot of 75 and from there they were ranked ten to one, announced to relatively light fanfare the last week of last season. From No. 10 to No. 6, I thought the fans (I was one of them) did a fine job:

10. Todd Pratt’s homer to beat the Diamondbacks, 10/9/99

9. Tom Seaver’s Imperfect Game, 7/9/69

8. The Ten-Run Inning, 6/30/00

7. Beatles’ first concert, 8/15/65

6. Robin Ventura’s Grand Slam Single, 10/17/99

You could have tossed them into an empty coffee can, shaken them up and spilled them out and, in whatever order they fell, that would have been fine, too. It was from No. 5 to No. 2 where I was left a little stunned.

5. Mets win World Series, 10/27/86

4. Endy Chavez’s catch, 10/19/06

3. Mets win World Series, 10/16/69

2. Mike Piazza’s post-9/11 homer, 9/21/01

No. 1 was Mookie and Buckner, which was my choice, so I’ll just say I believe it was the right call. I’d rank it behind only The Shot Heard ‘Round the World in all of baseball history, actually.

But those other four make me wonder what kind of moment junkies Mets fans are.

Even as I rationalize away modernity, chronology, technology, demography and what have you to explain why more recent events that have been shown repeatedly in recent years get voted higher via online mechanisms that inevitably skew younger, I think it says something about how the Mets fan would opt for an unforgettable snapshot over a more rewarding big picture.

Endy over winning the 1986 World Series? Really? You do realize we lost that game in which the Chavez grab was made, don’t you? That that catch saved two runs in the sixth inning, two runs given back three innings later (the latter moment appearing on the cover of a book you might have seen lately)? The Endy Catch was two outs. Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett was the championship of the world, the only one we’ve had since the end of the Age of Aquarius. The clinching wasn’t as seismic as the thing with Mookie and Buckner two nights earlier, but it did make the whole thing official. You’re good with that order, Endy over the championship of the world attained by the flat-out best team this franchise ever produced?

Just checking.

And Nos. 3 and 2…the first world championship, the most fabled world championship, the world championship used routinely by people outside the Met orbit as a touchstone for unlikely world championships, the world championship that represents the dot over the “i” of the signature season in the history of Shea Stadium and the New York Mets — not as great as that home run Piazza hit? That home run that was hit in the eighth inning of a regular-season game?

I don’t want to give up the Easter Bunny at this time of year, but really? Piazza’s homer, all its emotion and power notwithstanding, greater than the 1969 Mets completing their rise from the absolute depths of baseball to its pinnacle? Like I said, I voted for the ball going through Buckner’s legs, yet I did so feeling almost guilty about passing on 1969, because 1969 was the year of the Mets in every spiritual sense. The ’86 team was better all-around but ’69 should be considered the undisputed face of this franchise, what we stand for at our best. Other franchises have had 1986es. Nobody else has ever had a 1969.

One supposes Piazza’s home run, for which I was present in the Mezzanine, is without exact precedent and peer (and let’s be steadfast in our hope that its context will never befall any other people ever again), and one wishes to not detract from the dual rush of relief and adrenaline it gave an entire stadium and parts of its city…but the 1969 Mets are the 1969 Mets. They were kings of a world no one gave them any kind of shot in. They are the stuff of legend for forty years and I will bet that their broad strokes will live on another forty years at least.

But only the third-greatest moment in the just-departed stadium’s history? Really? If you say so. Just wanted to confirm that choice before pushing forward.

As for what lies ahead, may moments great, small and largely victorious bless this next home of ours starting Monday. No need to wait until my first game Thursday. Start winning and being memorable as soon as you can.

A fan’s lifetime of baseball moments add up to Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

12 comments to Living in the Moments

  • Anonymous

    Would you believe that I — of all people — refused to vote???

  • Anonymous

    Couldn't decide or religious objections?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    You know how I feel about 1969 – winning the world series wasn't a single greatest moment in Met history, it was the crowning jewel of a miracle summer filled with “greatest moments” day in and day out.
    In 1969 our modest hope was to finish .500 and even that seemed out of reach after losing to Montreal on opening day and starting off 18-23.
    For those too young to have lived through that wonderful time, think of it as a season of Wilson-Buckner experiences for in 1986, 1999, 2000 and 2006 we were expected to contend while in 1968 (with Gil and our young pitching staff) our biggest achievement was shedding the image of being a joke.

  • Anonymous

    “For those too young to have lived through that wonderful time”
    me! me! And I think that has a lot to do with the ordering of the list (I was technically too young for '86, being 4, but at least I have memories of it)
    I always felt the Piazza home run felt a little wrong as great moment. The game itself, the win, but not necessarily the homer. Maybe it feels more false to me since I was 400 miles away at college, but it's too much not a baseball moment (I don't like the Beatles on their either)
    Endy's catch is another one. The damn thing hurts almost as much as it thrills.
    I'm (barring tickets falling in my lap for less than $100) not going to be there Monday, but I fully intend to turn to someone or text someone after the first strike Pelfrey throws and say “That strike was the greatest moment in Citi Field history!”

  • Anonymous

    A bit of both, truth be told.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ceetar,
    You're so right about the age factor and why it's really tough to make a poll about the ten greatest moments for anything.
    So, in no particular order, ten other “greatest” moments at Shea (9 involving the Mets) probably overlooked due to the passage of time:
    – The ball bouncing off the top of the wall and back into Cleon Jones' glove in 1973.
    – Willie Mays homering in his first game as a Met in 1972.
    – Seaver striking out 19 Padres in 1970.
    – 9:05 PM, September 20th, 1969 when we won our first championship of any kind.
    – Gary Carter's game winning home run on his Met debut.
    – The Jet come from behind victory in the 1968 AFL Championship game over the favored Oakland Raiders.
    – Lenny Dykstra's homer in game three of the 86 playoffs.
    – Steve Henderson's home run climaxing a dramatic come from behind win against the Giants in 1980 (highly mentioned in Greg's book).
    – the 23 inning game in 1964
    – Jim Bunning's perfect game three weeks later.

  • Anonymous

    All of those (except Henderson) did make the initial ballot of 75 moments, though I couldn't tell you how they ranked in the voting. Dykstra and the ball off the wall were in my final 10 last summer.

  • Anonymous

    as someone who attended game 5, oct. 16, 1969, i can attest to the sort of imprinting that can have.
    and the game itself was a wild one — down 3-0 with many expecting them to lose (take four straight against the orioles? are you nuts?) the mets came all the way back, scoring in the 6th,7th and 8th. cleon jones's hbp (shoepolish), al weis's home run (the man hit .455 for the series), jerry koosman throwing a complete game for his second win of the series… yes, i'd move it up the lineup.
    but that's just me, i guess.

  • Anonymous

    Hi DMG,
    Lucky you, being in the stands while I was only able to catch the game on radio during and between classes my freshman year in college. That was the first year Met fans could ever shout “we're number one” (before that, the best we could do was “we're number nine”) so why shouldn't 1969 be honored as number one on everything that is Mets?

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me that its all about demograhics, and promotion. For the most part, the demographic that does internet voting and such are younger people. Sure those of us who were were 'there' in '69, or were just kids then aren't 'old'. But kids today have been twittering' since they were in the womb!
    The Mets are also guilty for not promoting the team history properly. Oh sure everybody knows Tom Seaver, but younger fans are not spoon fed on Mets history. SNY has been playing the Shea Goodbye ceremony's often this past off season, wouldn't it have been nice if it was accopanied by really cool Mets documentary? Then, for the benefit of fans who lived through their history, and younger folk eager to learn, the guys strolling on the field that afternoon would be more than just a bunch of old guys – but Mets heroes! The Mets could learn a thing or two from that sports franchise in the Bronx.
    I agree that the post 9/11 game was a greater moment than the actual homerun. The fact we were playing and taking a leap back to normalcy, and seeing the brotherhood between the Mets and Braves, was beautiful in itself. Still NY needed to win, and Piazza did provide the blast. As for its ranking in top 10 Shea moments, I would put it in top 10 – but not in the bottom five. I would have placed the 1969 World Championship as #2, and Game 6 in '86 world series as number one.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn't the NL East clincher at “9:07 on September 24th”, per the iconic Lindsay Nelson call that was always on TV hawking the “Mets record Album”??

  • Anonymous

    Indeed it was.