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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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60 and All Right, I Guess

I’ve been trying to reconstruct how we got there. I remember we were in the car. I can see the shopping center parking lot where the exchange is taking place, a dreary Monday night as Monday nights are bound to be as January winds down. We’re turning into the lot from Long Beach’s main drag of Park Street. It’s the shopping center anchored by Waldbaum’s since its opening in 1984. It wasn’t there before I went to college. One summer I came home and it existed. It will always gleam in my mind because it gleamed when I first saw it.

Dad is driving, I’m in the passenger seat. Our destination is the Chinese place we’d been taking out from as often as we’d been taking out from our other two Chinese takeout places, good old Wing Loo and around the corner from us Panda Garden. We had a loose rotation rather than a single go-to. We were like that with diners and Italian places as well. “Spread the wealth,” is how my father wryly explained his lack of fealty to a given outlet. The Chinese place in the shopping center had a less evocative name than Wing Loo or Panda Garden, which is to say I can’t quite recall what it was called. Park something, I wanna say. Or something with a wok. I can see the lettering — modern, lower-case, in line with what the rest of the stores in the shopping center featured if they weren’t connected to a national chain — but I can’t remember the precise letters. It doesn’t matter, I suppose.

It matters that I remember the date: January 23, 1989. No way it wasn’t January 23, 1989. Not that the Princes needed an occasion to bring in Chinese food, but there was an occasion. It was my father’s birthday. His 60th birthday, marking 60 years of my father making small talk with me and others. No doubt he had his share of deep conversations with people in his 60 years to that moment, but I also harbor little doubt he sought no more than his share. If he engaged in any deep conversations with me in the 26 years and 23 days I’d been on the scene, it probably meant I was performing in a manner less than up to snuff and he had been urged by my mother to talk to me about raising my standards. Those dialogues could have been covered by an exchange of business cards.


After which, he could have advised me to call his office with any further questions so we could each get back to watching TV. In real life, after a polite interval had lapsed from our Mom-mandated deep conversations, we would resume the small talk that felt pleasant enough at the surface level if unsatisfying deep down. As of January 23, 1989, I was 26 years and 23 days old. What did I know from deep down? I was willing to ride pleasant for all it was worth. Between my parents, Dad was the pleasant one for conversational purposes. Talking to Mom should have come with a sign warning that this area may be laden with land mines. The small talk with Dad was unsatisfying? At least it didn’t blow up in my face. Why would I rock the boat — or the car — with anything smacking of seriousness?

Then again, he was 60 on that day, so I’m pretty sure I felt I was on solid sociable ground to ask him about the round number he’d just reached. Pretty sure. I can hear myself not quite 34 years later asking, more or less, “So, Dad, how does it feel to be 60?” Except that doesn’t at all sound like something I would ask him. It’s certainly more invasive than our chatting would get. Besides, whatever age your father was, it generally fell into the category of old. Your parents were old. They were your parents. They’re old compared to you. I think I first figured out my father’s age when he turned 40. Forty seemed old when I was 6. My mother engineered a surprise party when he turned 50. Fifty seemed old when I was 16. These round numbers seemed a pretty big deal, though. He’d just turned 60. He didn’t seem “old” in any sense one might associate with the word except, you know, he was 60 and I was 26. It wasn’t tangibly different from when he’d been 59 and I was 25 as recently as 24 days earlier, but round is round. Maybe 60 seemed like a milestone enough moment to go there.

“So, Dad, how does it feel to be 60?”
“Inside, I don’t feel any different from when I was 22,” he said, as if he’d been doing aging wrong.
Then he paused.
Then he asked me, with all seriousness, “Is that all right?”

You’re asking me? Dad asked me whether the game was going to be on SportsChannel or Channel 9. Dad asked me if I remembered the name of that actor who was on that show. Dad asked me what year it was when we went to such and such attraction on vacation. I was good for TV listings and familial World Almanac-style indexing. He never asked me to render an opinion on anything more substantial that which Chinese place to take out from tonight and whether we should get beef or chicken lo mein. The rest of the questions he’d direct my way would mostly be along the lines of, “Are you going to be ready soon?”

You’re asking me if I think what you’re feeling inside is all right? As if I would hold the definitive judgment on how a 60-year-old man might react to being a 60-year-old man? What could I tell him?

“I guess so.”

That was my tentative response to my father’s 60th birthday quasi-revelation that he wasn’t quite on board with how it felt or what it meant to be 60. After I delivered it, we parked and picked up the Chinese food. Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting these past 33 years and 342 days to find out if 60 would hit me the way it hit him.

It has. I guess.

Save for batting practice catchers or anybody coming and going in a less than wholly official for-the-record capacity, reliever Scott Schoeneweis was the first Met to wear 60, in 2007 and 2008. Reliever Mychal Givens was the most recent, in 2022. In between there’ve been reliever Jon Rauch, emergency starter P.J. Conlon, infielder Andres Giménez and outfielder Billy McKinney. Giménez was the only 60 to show genuine promise, and then he was off to Cleveland with Amed Rosario for Francisco Lindor after his 2020 audition from almost out of nowhere in front of absolutely nobody. Had Andres stuck around, I imagine they would have given him a better number. As a Guardian, the kid wears 0. He’s fulfilling his promise but still needs a better number.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a “6” and a “0” next to one another. It just doesn’t look like a baseball number. Giménez did his best to make it look right for 60 games, but it was a tough sell. The rest of that 60-wearing crew not so much. A wider assortment of 60s would allow a more likely candidate to whom to connect on a 60th birthday. When you’re under a certain age, you can link your age to a Mets uniform number and have fun with it for a few minutes. We all do it, right? Every December, my fellow twelfth-month baby and good friend Kevin and I exchange numerical Met birthday greetings. Kevin’s approximately a generation younger than me. He just turned Ron Hodges years old, though when I finally remembered to send him a text to commemorate his big day, I called it his Jackie Robinson birthday. Seemed most appropriate. He went from Tom Seaver to Jackie Robinson, retired number to retired number, Hall of Famer to Hall of Famer, icon to icon. You can do that in your early 40s. Next year he’ll be R.A. Dickey and still have some top-flight choices immediately ahead of him.

I’m over the certain age. In my 50s, it was mostly coaches, with an occasional Hershiser or Santana dropping in to let me know I still had my stuff. The year I was 52, 52 suddenly became synonymous with Cespedes. Who wouldn’t have wanted to have said they were Cespedes years old in 2015? From here on out, it’s obscurities and novelties. At 60, Andres Giménez from a COVID-shortened season is the best of a non-baseball number the Mets can give me as a numerical nod.

Thus, when I think of 60 in the abstract, I think instead of Florida State Road 60, which I drove to get from where I went to college in Tampa to where my parents set up their winter encampment in Hallandale, roughly halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, a drive of 200-some miles. I’d pick up 60 on the eastern edge of Tampa. It was unremarkable through Brandon, more or less near Plant City, home of the annual Strawberry Festival; ho-hum through Bartow, somewhere outside Lakeland and Winter Haven, datelines I’ll forever associate with the Tigers and Red Sox in March; and no biggie on toward Lake Wales, by which point the Tampa radio stations had morphed into Orlando radio stations, which somehow felt exotic to the ear. East of Lake Wales, you’d pass Indian Lake Estates, with a sign that offered an arrow for the turnoff to Frostproof, which you’d think all of Florida would have been. Since I’d left campus, the drive was a veritable walk in the park.

After Indian Lake Estates, it became terrifying for the final 25 or so miles of 60 I’d have ahead of me. Four lanes became two. The lack of lighting overwhelmed all senses at night, and it was always at night. It was just dark and scary. I preferred to have the road to myself. Headlights coming from the other direction were disconcerting. Headlights coming up from behind me unhinged me. I’d never driven anywhere else where somebody behind you would pass you in a lane not meant for them and it was business as usual. But there were only two lanes and I was capable of driving only so fast. Go ahead, pass me if you’re in such a hurry. Make it quick. I just want to get to Yeehaw Junction in one piece. Yeehaw Junction was the turnoff for the Florida Turnpike. The Florida Turnpike was its own kind of daunting, but it had more than one lane per direction. I was OK with highways in those days. The Turnpike and West Palm Beach stations to I-95, I-95 and Miami stations to Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Hallandale Beach Boulevard to Golden Isles Drive. As I parked in my visitor’s spot and clicked off the radio, I’d relish that I’d really accomplished something steering my way from the West Central part of the state to its southeast corner. I was not made for driving long distances, but I had driven this one. That felt good. Then I’d go upstairs to my parents’ condo and start watching what I say for land mines.

That was 60 to me in the years I neared, turned or was 22. Chances are pretty good at least portions of those trips on 60 were devoted to thinking about the Mets. They were generally out of season when I was driving southeast or returning northwest, but I’d be in the car for several hours alone. If I was alone for several hours, I’d think about the Mets sooner or later.

That’s many years ago now. I’m 60 today. I’m still thinking about the Mets. Sometimes to myself. Sometimes out loud. Sometimes in the car. Sometimes in blog form. So, to my dad, who wondered if it was OK to feel the same inside at 60 that he felt at 22 and who I never definitively answered even though he lived to be 87, I’ll reiterate: I guess.

Guess is all I can do. I’ve aged but not to some junction where wondering meets enlightenment. Narrow roads or wide lanes, I don’t know what lies ahead.

I didn’t 50 years ago today when I turned 10 and, on December 31, 1972, discovered radio stations counted down the top hits of the year, which pretty much changed how I sliced, diced, categorized and looked at life. Every time I make some kind of list of things that have happened in the year that is ending or choose something as the event of that year, it’s mostly because I sat on the balcony of a room at the Chateau motel in North Miami Beach while my sister was lying down inside because she’d come down with stomach flu and I heard WFUN-AM count down the Top 79 songs of 1972 and wrote down every one of them. I’ve saved the memory if not the list. Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” beat out “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack for No. 1 if memory serves.

I didn’t 40 years ago today when I turned 20 and, on December 31, 1982, visited a doctor to be cleared to return to school after contracting mononucleosis in the closing weeks of the fall semester of my sophomore year at USF, which was great news, because the runup to my 20th birthday saw me sitting around in Hallandale dealing with swollen glands and dodging beratings from my mother for having contracted mononucleosis and whatever else she was convinced I was doing wrong, even while she was diligent in aiding my physical recovery, regardless of the mental stress she probably didn’t realize she was inflicting. My prescription for recovery was getting the hell out of Hallandale and back to school for the spring semester. I got over the mono, but my relationship with my mother was fraught thereafter, right up until cancer diminished her fire and took her a month before she turned 61, which is to say when she was 60, but let’s refrain from framing the math that way today.

I didn’t 30 years ago today when I turned 30, and on December 31, 1992, was the guest of honor at a surprise party. I was honestly surprised. I had made some stray remark to my wife that I’d sure like a surprise party someday, but that was mostly a life of watching sitcoms talking. I never knew people actually did that, Dad’s 50th notwithstanding. My family — Stephanie with my sister and her husband and my father — organized it. My friends popped out of the shadows alongside them. I never saw it coming. It was wonderful. The unofficial theme seemed to be that I was now a 30-year-old Mets fan, because everybody kept reminding me that’s what I cared about. I cared about other things, but those were side dishes. I was handed 15 pairs of tickets for the 1993 Mets (15 X 2 = 30) as the entrée. I took the tickets and the cue and maybe leaned into Mets fandom as an identity more than it had occurred to me in the years prior to turning 30 when at least subconsciously I thought it was time to put away or at least slightly deemphasize childish things. This is how you people see me? Good enough. Off to Shea I go. Besides, my dad not quite four years before told me at 60 he still felt like he was 22 or something like that. When I was 22, I thought about Doc Gooden pitching and Gary Carter catching. Carter was retired but Gooden was sure to pitch that Opening Day and I had tickets.

I didn’t 20 years ago today when I turned 40, and on December 31, 2002, was still reveling in the aftermath of the birthday party I’d thrown for myself a couple of weeks prior, the only time I’ve ever done something like that. I wanted to celebrate 40 at Bobby V’s in Corona, across the Grand Central from Shea. I wanted it to be Met-themed. I wanted to be surrounded by Mets fans. I didn’t want anybody who patronized or side-eyed what had intensified at the core of my life since I was 30. I had my wife, my cats, my profession as an editor of a trade magazine and my Mets. I wanted to be in a room with only people who got that and got me. I got my wish. Two-plus years later, this blog began, a Mets party still in progress.

I didn’t 10 years ago today when I turned 50, and on December 31, 2012, was only a couple of weeks removed from something similar to how I marked 40, but different. I wasn’t just that guy who liked the Mets seeking out others who liked the Mets. We now existed as a community and I was one of the town criers. They found me as a writer. A friend who became a friend because she found me writing put together a book/birthday party for me. I blew out candles on a cake my doctor wouldn’t want me going near for any other reason and I signed copies of something I wrote for people who would willingly pay for it. A few of the attendees were with me when I turned 30 and/or 40. Most were people I knew because they read what I wrote. That’s who I became. That’s who I still am when I can be.

The throughline, from 10 to 50, seems to be I didn’t know what was coming in the year or years ahead. The year and years ahead came anyway. It only began to sound unnerving when I got to 50. I just spent ten years in my fifties. I don’t know if I saw or even sensed whatever came coming ten years ago today. I just knew I enjoyed writing about the Mets and I know that continued. I enjoy writing about the Mets not only because they’re the Mets and I’ve rooted for them since I was 6, but because I get to borrow them as my prism for an array of realizations and emotions. They’re never far from top of mind and they make the playoffs once in a while and they rarely fail to tantalize me with the notion that they’ll be better next year or, failing that, one of these years soon, even if I have no idea what the future holds in any year ahead. Here and them I write.

I’m 60. That’s what I’m thinking.

16 comments to 60 and All Right, I Guess

  • JoAnn P Brereton

    I’m going to find out next week if 61 feels any different.

    Happy birthday fellow Met fan!

  • Seth

    Happy birthday Greg. Enjoy 60 – the numbers only go up from here.

  • Hey Greg
    Now you’re a sexagenarian. My wife says that means you can look but not touch. 2023 is looking up to be one of the great ones of all Met times. Let’s hope so.

  • Dave

    When I think of Timo Perez, I don’t think first of the base running blunder that there’s no need to elaborate on, but rather that his wearing #6 made him my daughter’s first-ever favorite Met because she looked at him and saw that he had her age on his back. Later she became a teenager and chose favorite Mets based on how cute they were. But as for you Greg, welcome to the part of your life when you’re relying on pitchers you won’t remember a year later to represent your age. This year I transitioned from Thomas Szapucki to Rob Zastryzny to Bryce Montes de Oca without getting any older. But as I am approaching (to quote Martin Short’s character in Only Murders In The Building) my very early mid-60’s, Nate Fisher is on the way.

    Happy slightly belated birthday. Pretty cool that the city throws you a big party at Times Square every year, but crowds that large just aren’t my thing, I hope my absence is excused.

  • open the gates

    Happy Birthday, Greg, and here’s wishing you many more years of doing what you love.

    So you got me curious. I checked my age in my Mets By the Numbers and up popped Johan Santana. Works for me. I’m guessing it’s all downhill from here.

  • mikeski

    Happy birthday, Greg. As my father-in-law remarked, getting older certainly beats the alternative.

  • Bob

    Belated Happy Birthday!
    Mazel Tov!

    I’m 71 on Jan 17-that’s Northridge Earthquake Day in LA…Jan 17th, 1994..

    Have you seen quotes from Satchel Paige about aging being Mind over matter–if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter–or something to that effect.

    You’re as old as you feel and don’t stop doing what you enjoy with folks–or dogs & cats you love.

    Happy Birthday!

  • JerseyJack

    Greg …. I had to look . I’m Josh Edgin , Ty Kelly , or Franklyn Kilome old ! No Hall of Famers in that group . Oh well …