I’m covering two Mets teams tonight. Since about 7:10, I’ve been in the press box watching the 2016 Mets take on the Los Angeles Dodgers (no score, one out, the fans are booing the announcement of Chase Utley… now Noah Syndergaard has been tossed for throwing behind Utley’s back… Terry Collins is furious, and he’s been tossed… Logan Verrett is taking his warm-ups, the fans are standing, furiously booing in a “What the blank just happened” kind of way, and now they are roaring with delight because Utley’s been called out on strikes…whew, the excitement of on the spot writing.)
However, I am also covering the 1986 Mets tonight as the organization is honoring that World Championship team tonight. Having figuratively lived and died with the highs and lows as a fan of the Mets of that era, it was fun to chat with manager Davey Johnson, Jesse Orosco, and Wally Backman before the game.
Later, about 25 minutes before the ceremony, I stationed myself on the field to take photos of the festivities. I chatted amiably with the photographer next to me (based on the zoom capabilities of our lenses, it was clear he was a photographer and I was a guy taking pictures).
The Mets opened the festivities with the old “Let’s Go Mets Go” video and maybe it was the sight of the late Gary Carter or just the sights and people of 1986 New York City but I was moved to the point where I almost became emotional. Granted, I’m not exactly gruffest guy in the world; I became emotional during a showing of the presentation scene in “The Lion King” at Disney World in 2000 – the happiest place in the world for goodness sakes – when my oldest daughter was a baby, but this was unexpected.
Perhaps it was a combination of being reminded of happy memories, my youth, and the passage of time that caught me off guard. Looking at the faces of the 1986 Mets, 30 years time had treated some of them better than others. Of course, while I like to think I’m the same guy I was at 23, the gray hair on the barber shop floor when I get a haircut tells me otherwise.
I remember watching a documentary about the Brooklyn Dodgers with my Dad years ago and noticing a trace of emotion in his face watching the players he rooted for in the 1940’s and 1950’s (and he’s a World War II veteran who experienced the Battle of the Bulge not a guy who works in air conditioning in a cubicle like me). At that point, those “Boys of Summer” had been gone from Brooklyn for 30 years or so, some of them had begun to pass away like the late Gil Hodges, and life had moved on, like it always does. But maybe it was that same sense of happy memories and youth that hit both of us.
One of the perks of covering a game at Citi Field is you never know who you’ll share an elevator with and after the on field festivities, I found myself waiting for the elevator with among others, Ray Knight, the MVP of the 1986 World Series. This was Knight’s first participation at a Mets event with his former teammates and with his back to me, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him about how it felt to be back and he said it was “awesome” and it gave him “chills.” I told him I felt the same way and he patted me on the shoulder, too.