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Glide On Down to QBC

If you’re the type of Mets fan to read a blog about the Mets in a month when the Mets aren’t playing, then you’re the type of Mets fan who should be attending an enormous Mets event in the next month the Mets aren’t playing.

The Queens Baseball Convention [1] is coming to McFadden’s Citi Field on Saturday, January 10. QBC 15 promises to build on the joy and fun that made QBC 14 such a fantastic baseball oasis [2] in the midst of winter.

Mookie Wilson [3] will be there. Wally Backman [4] will be there. Jason Fry will be there. I’ll be there. So many others will be there. You can check out the whole schedule here [5].

I’m particularly proud that for this second QBC we will again be presenting the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award, a gesture conceived as a way to a) keep Gil’s name and memory blazing for all Mets fans to see and b) honor a Met who, when we think of him, warms our hearts, brightens our spirits and lights our way — just like the thought of Gil Hodges still does [6].

Last year, upon dedicating the award, we presented it to Gil’s family as our way of saying we, as Mets fans, are forever proud of what he means to our team. This year, we are thrilled to be able to present it to one of the players Gil managed to a world championship, someone who personifies the parameters of the prize.

Graciously joining us at QBC to accept the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award [7] will be Ed Charles [8]. You may know him as the Glider or the Poet Laureate of Baseball or the Elder Statesman of the 1969 Mets. We know him as someone who crafted a baseball life like no other [9], dating from his childhood in segregated Florida when he was inspired by the sight of Jackie Robinson [10] in Spring Training (a story portrayed in the movie 42) and winding through an unfairly long minor league apprenticeship. It took a decade for Ed Charles to reach the majors, but once he made it, as a Kansas City Athletic — debuting the very same day the Mets franchise did — it was clear he belonged.

A trade to the Mets in 1967 made him a New Yorker. His presence as a savvy veteran on a team comprised mostly of youngsters proved enormous in developing the team that would become forever known as the Miracle Mets. It is telling, perhaps, that in the famous photo snapped after the final out of the 1969 World Series [11] we see rushing onto the scene to join pitcher Jerry Koosman [12] and catcher Jerry Grote [13] in full embrace is the third baseman.

Ed Charles wasn’t gliding that day.

Winning a world championship marked both the high point and the end point of Ed’s active career. He pursued other vocations over the next several decades — most notably working with New York City youth who could benefit from his help — but he never fully departed baseball. Ed scouted for the Mets, coached fantasy campers (who uniformly express delight remembering their interaction with him), became a welcome guest every time he showed up at Shea Stadium and Citi Field and lent his poetry to numerous commemorative and celebratory occasions.

In short, Ed Charles has been a tremendous gift to baseball and to Mets fans. We are humbled to have the chance to recognize him with the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award.

I hope you’ll be there with us at the Queens Baseball Convention to give him the greeting he deserves. Plus the joy and fun you’ll have on January 10. Find out more about attending here. [1]