The return address on the manila envelope was Citi Field. The postmark was Flushing. The stationery featured a Mets logo. The second word handwritten in looping cursive on the single page enclosed was “Thanks” — so was the second-to-last word. There weren’t many words in between. There didn’t need to be.
On December 14, 2011, Shannon Forde mailed me a copy of Volume 50, Issue 5 of Mets Magazine, the last game program from that season. David Wright was on the cover. A poster of Jose Reyes was in the middle. There were articles about Angel Pagan and Bobby Parnell. And tucked deep in the back, opposite an ad for Pound Ridge Golf Club (“35 Miles From Home Plate!”) was a page devoted to our blog, part of a series that had run throughout the year, “From the Blogs” — or “De los Blogs,” as it was translated in this bilingual edition of La Revista de los Mets. The piece that appeared on page 154 represented an opportunity to introduce our work to Mets fans who might never have heard of us otherwise.
Which was nice enough to begin with. I’m sure others were involved in executing the idea and signing off on it, but I’m also sure that Shannon was the one who went out of her way to think of Mets blogs and Mets bloggers in this and an array of instances. Shannon was synonymous with blog outreach, which is perhaps an unnecessarily utilitarian way of saying she reached out to the likes of us and she looked out for likes of us.
That was no small thing, because who the hell were we? Who the hell was Faith and Fear in Flushing to a Major League Baseball franchise that was covered by an ample number of dailies, periodicals and broadcast outlets? Baseball is steeped in tradition. The press box is traditionally the province of reporters attached to established news organizations. Same for the dugout and the field during batting practice. Same for the media dining room.
Shannon got us in those places. We never asked, but she got us in anyway. She adjusted tradition to modernity and let us who were purely digital and relatively unaffiliated dip a toe into waters reflexively considered off-limits. Shannon didn’t treat us like we didn’t belong. If you came into contact with Shannon Forde, you belonged.
I find myself writing about process here because it’s worth taking a step back and understanding how it is that bloggers like us got to know Shannon Forde, but the important thing is we got to know Shannon Forde. It was just a little, but a little went such a long way in the presence of someone so obviously full of grace and warmth and enthusiasm. I wouldn’t have met Shannon Forde if not for the process she instigated and facilitated. If I hadn’t met Shannon Forde, I would not be so saddened at the word of her passing  Friday night following three-and-a-half years of battling breast cancer.
But I also wouldn’t have felt so enriched from the too-brief interactions we had during the seasons when the Mets held Blogger Nights, and bloggers like Jason and me and a gaggle of others who do some version of what we do were invited to take part in some of the rituals that make baseball tick. These were experiences that enhanced our understanding of the sport we embrace as fans who write, and we tried to pass along to you guys the essence of what they were about.
Most significantly, though, these were experiences that allowed us to know Shannon Forde. By that measure alone, you couldn’t have had a better experience. From what I could tell, you couldn’t come across a better person. I don’t have a good enough imagination to envision one.
You know how some people have that rare gift of making you feel better about yourself and your surroundings and the moment you’re in? I do, because I knew Shannon Forde. Again, not that well and not that much, but enough to be lifted in every encounter we had. There was nothing — zero — perfunctory about her approach to you. There was never a sense of being handled the way someone in media relations handles media. I’ve been media in many situations in my career away from this blog. I recognize handling. I also recognize the opposite. I think it’s called being a genuine person.
You couldn’t miss it with Shannon. Every simple gesture, chance meeting and prompt response from her perch as senior director of media relations was laced with kindness. Like the business with that issue of Mets Magazine. We were offered the space in the program; Jason and I collaborated on a profile of our blog; it was published in September; we got a kick out of seeing our names inside something people bought at the ballpark; and you’d figure that was that. Except three months later, we received an e-mail from Shannon. She was sorting through some stuff left over from the 2011 season and wasn’t sure whether she had sent us copies of our article. Did we need any?
I said sure (because who turns down a copy of Mets Magazine with your name in it?) and a couple of days later it appeared in my mailbox with the note.
Let me know
if you need
Thirteen words. Twice she says thanks. It seemed so typical of her and so atypical of most. The note…the issue…the sight of something with a 11368 return address in the middle of December…the fact that she sent it out literally ASAP…the fact that I offered to pick up any spare programs from her myself when I’d be coming to Citi Field to cover the Mets’ holiday party and she told me “I’ll mail them — this way you don’t have to lug them around (they do get heavy after a bit)”…that she ended that e-mail with a smiley-face emoticon…that she responded to my thank you e-mail the same way.
The thought. The thoughtfulness. The person. The person’s simple gesture that was no doubt one of countless simple gestures directed toward everybody she knew — no matter how well or how little — in which she made all feel welcome to her world. There was exponentially more to this envelope, this magazine and this note than met the eye.
There was Shannon Forde. What a gift.
Mike Lupica wrote movingly  about Shannon while she was fighting the awful disease that eventually took her from her family. Joel Sherman remembered her with great affection  upon learning the terrible news that she was gone at the age of 44. I recommend reading them both.