Tag Archives: New York Mets

Banner Day returns, brings out the fans


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

banner day

Wearing a sparking golden crown and wielding a play horse, 1971 Banner Day winner Debby Brandon stood in line on the outskirts of Citi Field for the event’s return.

The contest, which was halted in 1996 but revived this year for the team’s 50th anniversary, featured more than 300 Mets fans parading around Citi Field with signs of their love and commitment to the team.

Brandon, 53, was devastated when the event was halted, but rejoiced in its return on Sunday, May 27.

“We’re thrilled,” Brandon, a resident of Middle Village, said. “We used to enter all the time.”

She entered the contest this year with a theme based on the Triple Crown, referring to the possibility of the Mets winning a third World Series title this year.

The event brought back memories of when she won Banner Day when she was just 12 years old.

Back then, Brandon dressed up in a handmade Mr. Met costume with her friend, who sported a Statue of Liberty outfit.

As they walked across the diamond, Brandon held a banner which read in colorful, bubble print “Even the Lady is a Mets fan,” while her friend held one that said “Come on baby light my fire,” – in reference to the popular song by “The Doors.”

The contest judges loved the idea and the girls won a trip to Puerto Rico.

They took one more person with them on the trip, Lynn Rapkiewicz, Brandon’s sister and the inventor of the idea.

“It was a good idea,” Rapkiewicz said. “We’re real New Yorkers and the whole idea was the Statue of Liberty represents all of New York, and to us New York is always the New York Mets.”

For the return of Banner Day the sisters attempted to win top prize again while also passing down the tradition.

Rapkiewicz, 63, thought of a similar idea for her grandchildren, Danny and Samantha Hodurski. Because the event ran on Memorial Day Weekend, Danny, 9, dressed up as Uncle Sam and Samantha, 7, wore the Lady Liberty costume.

“Baseball is all about tradition,” Rapkiewicz said. “It was rewarding for me to see my grandchildren become part of the next generation of Mets fans.”

The kids held a banner that said “I want to yell ‘yippie’ for the next 50 years.”

Although it did not win the top prize, when the youngsters walked the warning track on Citi Field, fans yelled “yippie” in response.

Fans reminisced and traded similar stories as they waited for the competition to start.

Mary and Roger Bow, a husband and wife pair from Bayside, entered Banner Day in 1984 when they were just high school friends.

Two years later they married and more than a decade after that they had a child.

Now the entire family, including son Andy, now 14, participated in the contest with a revamped version of the couple’s original banner – a Mets influenced rendering of the famous picture of soldiers planting the American flag after World War II.

“This is so exciting,” Andy said “I love how my parents have been doing this since they were so young and how I get to be a part of it.”

Banner Day participants were so happy with the return that they wished the event would come to stay.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Rapkiewicz said. “The Mets, I think more than anybody, have been about the fans. To have them bring this back is great.”

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Maniac went for cop-killer bullets: police

The crazed gunman who wounded four Brooklyn cops was reaching for another rifle loaded with more powerful, armor-piercing bullets to inflict deadly injuries just before he was stopped, officials said yesterday. “If he would have been able to grab that gun, this would have been a lot more tragic. It would have been in God’s hands,” said a police official familiar with the case. “It’s apparent [the suspect] wanted to shoot it out with cops and go out in a blaze of glory.’’ Read More: New York Post

Cuomo at all-time high in latest poll; Bam and Gillibrand strong

Gov. Cuomo’s job approval has hit an all-time high while President Obama and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are cruising toward re-election in deep blue New York this year, according to a new poll out today. The Siena College survey found New York voters divided over Obamacare and the potential legalization of casino gambling but strongly supportive of expanding the state’s DNA databank and rolling back pension benefits for new public employees. Read More: New York Post

Liu’s legal bills outweigh donations

Embattled city Comptroller John Liu’s campaign treasury “is turning into a legal-defense fund.”

Liu’s campaign has spent more than $100,000 on lawyers and legal fees so far this year — more than he raised in campaign contributions. Liu only raised $82,305 from Jan. 1 through March 25. And the new report shows that Liu spent more than twice what he raised during the period — $162,354.92. The anemic fund-raising and ballooning legal bills come as Liu and his campaign operation face a federal criminal probe of their fund-raising activities. Read More: New York Post

Smoking banned in New York State Parks in New York City

In announcing the ban Monday, state officials said it was done to make state parks consistent with their city-run counterparts, where smoking was outlawed last year. Smoking will also be banned near pools and playgrounds at all other state parks outside of the city, as officials look to create “fresh-air” zones for parkgoers. Read More: Daily News


 

Park Officials Plan To Fix Up Vandalized Far Rockaway Playground By Summer

With the damages totalling more than $100,000, many Far Rockaway residents feared the city would halt construction on the Beach 29th playground, but the Parks Department says it will soon be back on schedule. “The contractor has been there a few times the manufacturer, we located the parts that we need, they’re now on order,” said Queens Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “We hope to be back in line and open the playground sometime during the summer.” Read More: NY1

 

 

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly fights the good fight in New York City’s long war against guns

This time it was 3301 Nostrand Ave. in the first moments of Easter Sunday, four Emergency Service Unit cops, cops as good as any Ray Kelly has, coming through the door of Apartment 6-K, all being shot by a “very bad dude” — Kelly’s words — named Nakwon Foxworth. Another bad dude in the City of New York with guns, one gun at least from the shoot-happy South. Read More: Daily News

 


 

Ire at home ‘free’ tenant

Queens landlord Debra Samuels says her only tenant hasn’t paid the $1,590 rent in more than a year — putting her two-family home in jeopardy. “We haven’t received a penny since February 2011 and she’s upstairs chilling, living free.” Samuels said. “I don’t see any resolution to this thing.” The cash crunch has put Samuels and her husband, who run a restaurant together, behind on their mortgage for the two-family Far Rockaway home.  Read More: New York Post

 

Catholic Charities boardmember quits over Cardinal Dolan’s stance on gay rights

Angered by Cardinal Dolan’s stance on gay rights, a member of the junior board of the city’s Catholic Charities revealed Saturday he has resigned. Joseph Amodeo quit after Dolan took umbrage at a letter from a group that works with homeless lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender youths. Read More: Daily News

Patience running thin in Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

photo - rotundaw

Hope may spring eternal, but patience is running thin in Queens.

The New York Mets enter the 2012 season as significant underdogs in one of Major League Baseball’s best divisions. As good as the National League East became this offseason – with Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle joining the Miami Marlins, the emerging Washington Nationals getting scarier by the day, and the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves still going strong – the Mets did little to help their chances of shocking the baseball world this year.

Supporters stopped coming to the ballpark by the thousands in 2011, and attendance will likely suffer again this season with the Mets projected to be the NL East cellar dwellers. The only thing more frightening than the Mets’ bullpen is the team’s lineup – go ahead tell me the batters hitting one through eight…don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to stop gasping for air.

Fans are beginning to get fed up with the product on the field, lack of exciting new talent, ownership’s financial troubles and the out-of-control injury situation – seriously, how was the entire medical staff not sent packing after Ike Davis’ initially ordinary ankle injury cost him the entire 2011 campaign?

Despite no significant additions being made to the team – during one of the most talented free agent pools in history, I might add – there are certain developments Mets fans can actually look forward to this season.

First and foremost, the Wilpons settled their suit with the victims of Bernie Madoff and had only moderate damage – a measly $162 million over five years – compared to the $303 million the Mets owners would have paid if they lost in court. The Wilpons have already completed the sale of 12 minority shares of the team for $240 million and repaid $65 million in loans, and they have now reportedly promised to begin reinvesting in the club again.

The agreement should allow the owners to cease selling any more of the team like they are homes of MC Hammer and settle down financially. Mets fans can begin dreaming again of days when free agents flock to Willets Point to don the blue and orange.

Johan Santana returned to his rightful place as the team’s Opening Day starter on April 5. Santana, who missed the entire 2011 season with a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, can make Mets fans gleeful once every five games – if, and it is a monumental IF, he is healthy and looks remotely like he did before getting injured. Santana has always been a pleasure to watch, and he should draw crowds on the days he hits the mound.

The starters are the sole visible bright spot for the team, with Santana, the tireless R.A. Dickey and youngsters Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese – who will hopefully take another step forward this season. The Mets can also feel optimism about hurlers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler soon joining the big leagues.

Lastly, 2012 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Metropolitans, and the organization has planned a number of festivities to commemorate the milestone, including the return of Banner Day and a series of alumni bobblehead giveaways representing each decade of the team’s history.

This should keep Mets fans’ minds and eyes away from the field – at least the organization hopes so.

Mets to pay tribute to Carter on opening Day


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

carter_spring_

In a tribute befitting his legacy, thousands of Mets fans will have the privilege to pay their respects to Gary “The Kid” Carter on Opening Day.

The New York Mets will honor Carter’s memory before their first game of the season against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, April 5 at Citi Field. A pre-game ceremony will be held, with Carter’s wife, Sandy, son, D.J., and daughters, Kimmy and Christy and their families on the field for a moment of silence and the ceremonial first pitch.

“We are thrilled that the Carters will be with us,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. “On Opening Day, Mets fans will have the chance to pay their respects and remember all of [Carter’s] accomplishments.”

Carter passed away on February 16 at the age of 57, following a 10-month battle with brain cancer. The Hall of Fame catcher was initially diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, a mere two weeks after completing his second season as head coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Mets players will wear a patch on their right sleeve featuring a black home plate with “KID 8” in white lettering to honor Carter throughout the 2012 season.

“Our family is so honored to be part of the Mets’ Opening Day at Citi Field,” said Sandy Carter. “It will be an incredible experience for us to celebrate Gary’s legacy by having our family throw out the first pitch. The Mets and the fans of New York always had a special place in Gary’s heart and that admiration will live on in our hearts for years to come. Thanks to the Wilpon family and the entire Mets organization for making this possible.”

Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYPD officers save man from oncoming train after he faints on subway tracks

A Manhattan man felt the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day when a trio of NYPD’s finest saved him from an on-coming train after he fainted onto the tracks at Grand Central Station, police said. Surrounded by dozens of straphangers awaiting the next train, William Soto, 46, fell onto the southbound 6 tracks around 10:15 a.m. Saturday, police said. A good Samaritan who saw Soto collapse ran up the station stairs to summon help. Read More: Daily News

 

Police Identify Suspect In Fatal Staten Island Stabbing

Police have zeroed in on a suspect in connection with a deadly stabbing outside a Staten Island restaurant over the weekend. Sources say investigators have identified the man as Redinel Dervishaj, 35. Authorities say he has a prior record of violent crime. Antonio Lacertosa, 27, was stabbed in the torso early Saturday morning outside the Espana Restaurant in Annadale. Investigators say he was celebrating his engagement to his high school sweetheart at the restaurant. Read More: NY1

 

Workers Prep City Ballfields For Opening Day

As New Yorkers mark the first day of spring, the city’s Parks Department is busy prepping its fields for the upcoming little league season. Before the plates are laid out in city parks, crews are making sure the diamonds, bleachers, fences and fields are all in good shape. Parks workers in Queens are preparing 174 fields for the upcoming season. Much of their work includes inspecting fields and fence lines, painting benches, removing leafs and leveling the dirt on the infield. Read More: NY1

 

Peyton, Broncos agree to five-year, $96 million deal

Peyton Manning agreed to a five-year, $96 million deal Tuesday with the Denver Broncos, the NFL Network reported. The four-time MVP will be introduced as the team’s new starting quarterback at a 3:00pm ET press conference. The sides are reportedly still finalizing the details of the contract, but the soon-to-be 36-year-old is likely to make an annual salary of about $19 million. Read More: New York Post

 

Ex-Marine busted at Empire State Building with gun makes plea deal, gets no jail

The ex-Marine busted for trying to check his Indiana-registered gun at the Empire State Building got a no-jail, misdemeanor deal today. “I definitely did not know it was illegal to bring a gun into New York City,” Ryan Jerome, 29, of West Bend, said after pleading guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court. Read More: New York Post

 

Researchers mount new mission to solve Amelia Earhart mystery

Scientists on Tuesday announced a new phase in the search to resolve the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, saying fresh evidence from a remote Pacific island may hold clues to the fate of the renowned U.S. pilot who vanished in 1937 while attempting to circle the globe. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined scientists and aviation archaeologists to unveil the expedition, which will set out from Honolulu in July to probe underwater areas around the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati where they believe Earhart may have crashed 75 years ago. Read More: New York Post

 

Reading, writing & Rikers! City Education Department staffers arrested 14 times in 2012

A disturbing number of city teachers has moved from the schoolhouse to the courthouse this year. City Education Department staffers have been arrested at least 14 times in 2012, alarming parents and leading to changes in policy. The bevy of teachers, substitutes and aides has been busted this year for crimes ranging from sex abuse and assault to stealing subway art and keying a car. And the year is just three months old. Read More: Daily News

Mets owners settle with Madoff trustee for $162 million


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Mets owners and a trustee for Bernard Madoff’s fraud victims have settled for $162 million. The Mets owners will not pay anything for three years. Jury selection had been set to begin in a civil trial to determine how much the team owners will owe other investors who trusted their money to Madoff.

Read more: New York Post

 

 

Teens charged in Queens vid-kill slapped with more charges


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Teens charged in Queens vid-kill slapped with more charges

Two Queens teens were arrested for gunning down an 18-year-old after the shooting was caught on camera, and each has since been hit with separate charges of attempted murder, cops said yesterday. Sean Barnhill, 19, and Alexander Burgess, 16, allegedly shot and wounded Daryl Adams, 18, then chased him down and fired the deadly round after he collapsed to the ground at 12:30 a.m. Friday, cops said. Read More: New York Post

 

Citi Field’s run $lows to a walk

Citi Field revenues have dropped more than 30 percent since the Mets’ ballpark opened in 2009, and premium ticket sales are down by nearly 50 percent, according to financial records. Overall attendance declined 26 percent, to 2.3 million, and during that time, revenues for concessions and parking slipped. The financial records reveal that concessions revenue has dropped 28 percent since 2009, to $10.9 million in 2011, and parking was down 37 percent, to $7 million. Read More: New York Post

 

Man heads to Queens club with pals, dies en route

A 21-year-old man mysteriously died while partying with pals in Queens, police said. The victim, whose name was withheld pending family notification, and two friends were at a family birthday party on Myrtle and Cypress avenues when they left around 12:40 a.m. today, cops said. They piled into a Lincoln Aviator to go to the Flamingo Night Club on Roosevelt Avenue near 86th Street in Jackson Heights, cops added. Read More: New York Post

 

Queens driver killed, 3 others injured after car rear ends box truck

A Queens man was killed early this morning when he rear-ended a commercial truck in Springfield Gardens. The driver, identified as Joseph Brown, 29, was traveling southbound with three other people in his Nissan sedan car when it collided with a white box truck at 4:06 a.m., on Rockaway Blvd. between Brookville Blvd. and Guy R. Brewer Blvd., police said. Brown, of Queens, was declared dead at Jamaica Hospital. Read More: New York Post

 

State Lawmakers Want Added Price Protections At The Pump

As fuel prices across the country continue to rise, two state lawmakers want consumers to be protected from price spikes at the gas pump. State Senator Eric Adams and State Assemblyman David Weprin introduced a bill this week that would require all gas stations to post signs with contact information for the State Consumer Protection Board. That way, if a consumer suspects price gouging they know who to call immediately. Read More: NY1

 

Whitney had secret affair with Jermaine Jackson, and Michael disapproved: report

Jermaine Jackson had a torrid affair with Whitney Houston and carried a torch for her until the day she died, according to a report published yesterday. The attraction had been instant between the pair after the married Jermaine was brought in to produce Houston and perform duets with her in the early 1980s, and they soon began a secret, yearlong fling, The Sun newspaper in London said. Read More: New York Post

Mets tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m.


| brennison@queenscourier.com

photo - rotundaw

Spring training is in full swing, Opening Day is a month away: time to get your Mets tickets.

New York Mets tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 5 at 10 a.m.

The Mets open their season on against their rival the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, April 5 at 1:10 p.m.

Throughout the year, the Mets 50th anniversary, the team will celebrate their history. During their golden anniversary, the Mets will honor a star player from each decade with a bobblehead day. Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub, Keith Hernandez, Edgardo Alfonso and Mike Piazza will be honored.

For fans who miss Jose Reyes (or want to boo him), he returns to Citi Field on Tuesday, April 24 with the Miami Marlins.

This season the Mets have revived Banner Day, a tradition started when they still played in the Polo Grounds and continued to 1996. Fans make homemade banners, then parade around the field with them. Banner Day takes place on Sunday, May 27 against the Padres.

The World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals visit the Mets on Friday, June 1 and the team will induct former closer John Franco into their Hall of Fame on Sunday, June 3.

The Mets take on the Yankees in the annual Subway Series beginning on Friday, June 22. During the series you can bring your old Mets cap to trade in for a new one.

The team has also announced over the weekend a Friday night concert series.  On three Fridays throughout the season the Mets will host a postgame concert.  The concerts will feature REO Speedwagon on June 15, Cheap Trick on July 20 and MercyMe on August 10.

Some other notable promotions and giveaways the Mets will have during the season are:

– Tom Seaver bobblehead on Sunday, April 22

– Rusty Staub bobblehead on Saturday, May 26

– Fireworks Night on Tuesday, July 3

– Mini bat on Saturday, July 7

– Edgardo Alfonzo bobblehead on Saturday, July 21

– Mike Piazza bobblehead on Saturday, August 25

To purchase tickets visit Mets.com or call 718-507-TIXX.

State Orders Peninsula Hospital To Stop Taking Patients


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

State Orders Peninsula Hospital To Stop Taking Patients

Laboratory problems are forcing changes at Peninsula Hospital in Queens. The State Department of Health has ordered the hospital to stop admitting patients and performing surgeries, and plan to transfer its current patients elsewhere. The order comes after Peninsula’s lab permit was suspended for 30 days after an inspection found, “problems that failed to meet the accepted standards of care.” The hospital says it is complying with the state’s orders and is developing a plan to fix the problems as soon as possible. Read More: NY1

 

Man accused of running over girlfriend extradited to NJ, set to be arraigned on murder charges

The deranged New Jersey man accused of running over his girlfriend three times and leaving her to die on a busy street was extradited this morning to New Jersey, where he will be arraigned on murder charges, authorities said. Charles J. Ann, 26, of Fort Lee, allegedly fled the scene Monday evening, but was tracked down at a friend’s house in Flushing, Queens, with a stack of cash and his passport. Authorities believe that he was going to flee to South Korea. Read More: New York Post

Four Sought In Valentine’s Day Home Invasion

Police are searching for four men behind a frightening home invasion in Manhattan last week where two of the robbers climbed through an apartment window. Investigators say it happened around 4 a.m. on February 14 inside an apartment located at 601 West 185th Street near Saint Nicholas Avenue. Authorities say two of the men got in through the window. The other two came through the front door. Read More: NY1

 

‘Subway pusher’ found guilty of assault, not attempted murder

A man accused of pushing a fashion exec onto the subway tracks was found not guilty today by a Manhattan jury of attempted murder, but guilty of first degree assault. That’s not much a break for Jose Rojas, 26, because both charges carry the same penalty, meaning he’ll still be facing between 5 and 25 years behind bars when he’s sentenced on March 16. Rojas had insisted that he did not cause a tall, blonde woman, Ute Linhart, to hit the train intentionally. Read More: New York Post

 

Ex-Mets star Dykstra granted permission to attend Carter’s funeral

Former Mets star Lenny Dykstra will be permitted to attend the funeral of his former teammate Gary Carter. Dykstra, who is under house arrest in Los Angeles on allegations of bankruptcy fraud and embezzlement, filed papers with a judge earlier this week in an attempt to attend Carter’s funeral today, according to TMZ.com. The judge signed off on Dykstra’s request, allowing him to attend Carter’s funeral in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Dykstra and Carter were teammates on the Mets from 1985-89, and both played pivotal roles on the 1986 World Series-winning ball club. Read More: New York Post

DOE Releases Evaluations For Thousands Of Public School Teachers

Parents will soon know if their children’s teachers have been earning passing grades, as the city’s Department of Education released today the performance scores of tens of thousands of teachers later today. A judge ordered the department to do so, despite resistance from the teachers’ union. The teacher data reports were compiled for three years, beginning with the 2007-2008 school year. News organizations, including NY1, plan to publish the reports with the teachers’ names on the Internet this afternoon. Read More: NY1

Former Met Gary Carter succumbs to brain cancer


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the New York Mets

Forever known as “the Kid,” former Mets catcher Gary Carter died at 4:10 p.m. on February 16 after battling brain cancer. He was 57.

A key cog on the Mets’ 1986 championship team, the man best known for his leadership and clutch hitting was diagnosed with the disease after doctors discovered inoperable tumors on his brain in May 2011. After an MRI revealed new tumors in January 2012, his condition worsened.

The entire Mets organization expressed their condolences to Carter’s family and said that they are grieving along with his fans and former teammates.

“On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gary’s family – his wife Sandy, daughters Christy and Kimmy and son D.J.,” Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, president Saul Katz and COO Jeff Wilpon said in a joint statement. “His nickname ‘the Kid’ captured how Gary approached life. He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field. His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes. He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty years of Amazin’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Mets 50th Anniversary Logo - FINALw

The New York Mets are commemorating their golden anniversary in Amazin’ fashion.

In honor of their 50th season, the Mets, who played their first game on April 11, 1962, are initiating an array of tributes, including a new, celebratory logo.

Third baseman David Wright, first baseman Ike Davis and outfielder Lucas Duda were joined by six season ticket holders from the club’s inaugural season to introduce the changes on November 16.

The 50th anniversary logo integrates the same fundamental elements of the team’s classic blue and orange skyline symbol, with accents of gold to celebrate the milestone. The patch will be positioned in place of the current logo, on the left sleeve of team jerseys, as well as on the back of blue game caps.

The Mets will also don different uniforms, with blue pinstripe or white being worn at home and grey on the road, reflective of the jerseys the club wore in its inaugural season. The primary home uniform will be the pinstripe, paired with the blue caps, and white and black alternates will be worn only on select dates. The black dropshadow will also be removed from the Mets script logo, letters and numbers.

One of the Mets’ favorite pastimes, Banner Day, is also returning. Banner Day, which began in 1963, will have a unique 50th anniversary theme, complete with fans parading around the warning track holding signs representing their favorite memories from the team’s history.

Each decade of Mets history will be celebrated throughout the upcoming season with a series of alumni bobblehead giveaways, commencing in April with Mets legend and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Other promotional giveaways will include 50th anniversary logo caps, T-shirts and collectibles. One fortunate fan at each home game will also receive an authentic No. 50 jersey, embroidered with the name “FANTASTIC.”

To show reverence to the team’s past, the Mets Alumni Association presented by Citi will also make several appearances throughout the season, and new exhibits highlighting Mets 50th Anniversary artifacts will be featured in the Mets Hall of Fame & Museum in time for Opening Day on April 5.

To get information about the Mets’ plans for their golden anniversary, fans can visit the newly-launched Mets50.com web site. Visitors will be encouraged to share photos of their favorite Mets memories to enter the “FANtastic at 50” sweepstakes and win a pair of 2012 Mets season tickets. Other website features include an interactive timeline detailing significant and influential moments in Mets history and archival footage from the past half century.

Darryl Strawberry: Mets unwise not to trade Reyes


| DStrawberry@queenscourier.om

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I was saddened to hear the news of Jose Reyes signing a 6-year contract with the Miami Marlins this week.  He has been a superstar for the Mets, and a fan favorite.  He has an electrifying style of play and will be a tough player to replace.

When facing the realization that losing Reyes to free agency was a real possibility, the Mets were unwise not to trade him.  The organization would have had, at the very least, the opportunity to consider other prospects to rebuild the talent on the team.

I strongly believe the Mets must be strategic in the offseason and take the necessary precautions to remain healthy once the season begins.  Injuries plagued both the star players and the players that stepped in to fill their void on the team throughout the season. The key to success in the upcoming season is playing hard and keeping healthy.

As many of you know I have been an avid basketball fan for many years.   I was thrilled to hear the NBA organizations and players reached an agreement to end the lockout that threatened to shelve the 2011-12 season.  I am excited for the official season to begin on Christmas day and am looking forward to learn where stars like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard end up.  Hopefully NBA teams like the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets will take note of what happens with players like Reyes and not repeat the mistakes of the Mets. It’s important to ensure you’ll be signing talent of your own.  It is going to be interesting to see the result of the Los Angeles Lakers offering up Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum to land Howard and Paul.

My love of baseball and sports in general inspired me to open up a place where the neighborhood could come together, enjoy great food and watch the big game.  I opened Strawberry’s Sports Grill over a year ago and am thrilled with the community’s response. Make sure to stop by the restaurant located at 42-15 235th Street Douglaston, NY 11363.  We’re right next to the Douglaston LIRR train station and only minutes from the LIE and Cross Island Pkwy. You can watch all the NBA action unfold on one of our 16 HD TV’s and you never know when I may pull up a chair for some of our award winning chili, or to just relax and watch the game.

Kids meet former Mets’ hurler John Franco


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alexa Altman

Thirteen-year-old Joseph Santana stood in line wearing an oversized striped Mets jersey, clutching a cobalt blue baseball cap. He bobbed excitedly as the line grew shorter, anticipating his turn. When he reached the front of the line, he thrust the cap at former Mets relief pitcher John Franco, who scribbled his signature in black Sharpie marker across the brim.

“Thank you!” said Santana, a broad smile stretched across his face.

“I’m a big Mets fan!” Santana exclaimed. “I’m happy I got to meet a Mets player!”

Santana was just one of over 200 kids who attended the Citi Holiday Event at Citi Field on Tuesday, December 6. The event partnered Citibank with United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), a non-profit organization that provides social, educational and recreational services for local residents. UNH has over 37 settlement houses that work with low-income youth, aiming to instill life skills, job training and college preparation in the area’s children.

Natalie Abatemarco, managing director of community development, was excited to continue the event Citi has put on annually since the ballpark’s opening in 2009.

“We’re here to celebrate with the United Neighborhood Houses and bring young people to Citi Field,” said Abatemarco. “These are our Citi Field kids and we’re excited to celebrate the holiday season with them.”

Kids buzzed around the room of the Acela Club at Citi Field as ballpark staff members served them heaping plates of macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers. Mr. Met, the Mets mascot, greeted guests and posed for photos. They then took tours of the facility, ending with a few swings in the Met’s batting cage.

Monica Guzman brought over 60 kids with her from Sunnyside Community Services, each of whom she hopes will cherish this special event.
“This will be a day they’ll remember forever,” said Guzman. “They’ll go on to tell their kids about it.”

Franco, a New York native himself, was happy to spend the holidays back on his home turf.

“I hope there are a lot of smiles,” said Franco. “I hope we bring a lot of happiness to the room.”

Franco spent most of the evening surrounded by swarms of kids, ecstatic to meet the baseball legend.

Two Men Shot Dead, One on a Bus in Queens


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Two Men Shot Dead, One on a Bus in Queens

A gunman killed two people — one on a crowded city bus — in Queens on Friday afternoon, the authorities said. The police said that when they arrested a suspect, he told them he “had a beef to settle.” One of the victims was his girlfriend’s son. He apparently did not know the other one. A third person was shot on the bus, but survived. The violence began at about 3:40 p.m. in an apartment in the Baisley Park housing complex at 116th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica, the police said, where an 18-year-old, described as the son of the suspect’s girlfriend, was shot in the neck and then fell or jumped out of a second-floor window. Read More:  New York Times

 

TSA Officials Deny Grandmother Was Strip-Searched At JFK

A grandmother from Long Island says she was injured and humiliated during a strip search at Kennedy Airport. Lenore Zimmerman, 85, says she asked be patted down instead of walking through a body scanner because she thought it would interfere with her defibrillator. Instead of a pat-down, she says the security screeners took her to a private room and asked her to remove her pants and other clothing. Read More: NY1

 

Victim Marvin Gilkes told wife ‘I love you so much’ before being shot to death by maniac on Q111 bus in Queens

The Queens bus passenger fatally shot by a crazed ex-con told his wife “I love you so much” the day he died — and was on his way to see his mom when he was shot on the Q111. Minutes before Marvin Gilkes was shot in the back of the head Friday, accused gunman Damel Burton had killed his girlfriend’s 18-year-old son, police said. Authorities say he was delusional, certain his past crime victims and every passenger on the bus was out to get him. Injured — but recovering in Jamaica Hospital— was Jojuan Lipsey, 29, who was shot in the jaw on the bus. Read More: Daily News

 

Marlins reel in Jose Reyes for 6 years, $106M

Jose Reyes is speeding to the suddenly splurging Miami Marlins. The All-Star shortstop became the second top free agent to land with the Marlins in a matter of days, agreeing Sunday night to a $106 million, six-year contract, CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler confirms. After adding All-Star closer Heath Bell for $27 million over three years, the Marlins gave the NL batting champion a deal that includes a club option for 2018 that would make the contract worth $120 million, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced. Read More: CBS News

 

Heist cop hired to drive Brooklyn bus

An infamous dirty cop — who was caught moonlighting as a bank robber in the 1990s — has a new gig driving a city bus in Brooklyn, The Post has learned. Former Queens cop Paul Voss is now working the night shift driving the B44 bus, some 13 years after his arrest for sticking up five banks — including one when he was on duty. The MTA knew all about his criminal past, but it decided to hire the badge-betraying bandit last April. Read More: New York Post

 

J. Cole earns Best New Artist Grammy nod

In a year that J. Cole released a debut album that reached the top of the Billboard charts, the St. John’s University graduate has been recognized for his meteoric rise with a Grammy nomination. Cole, 26, was nominated for Best New Artist where he will go up against The Band Perry, Bon Iver, fellow Queens rapper Nicki Minaj and Skrillex.  Acts such as The Beatles, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys have taken home music’s version of Rookie of the Year. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Accused deadbeat dad ordered to pay child support for Staten Island son

A Queens man is accused of ducking out on more than two years of child support payments for his Staten Island son. Authorities say Sammy D. Pico, 28, was ordered in October 2007 by a Family Court judge to pay $63 a week in child support. According to court papers, he was in arrears for $16,485.  His son, who is now 11 years old, lives in Grymes Hill, according to authorities. Read More: Staten Island Live

Man in Fake Beard Fires at Officers in Queens, Police Say

A man disguised with a fake beard and wearing a dark trench coat pulled a gun from his pocket and shot at two police officers who approached him in Queens on Friday afternoon, the police said. Neither officer was injured when the man, described only as in his 30s, opened fire at the corner of 37th Road and 76th Street in the Jackson Heights section. He fled and was not caught. His fake beard, dark glasses and hat were recovered during the chase, the police said. Read More: New York Times

Police Find Queens Shooting Victim In Car With Multiple Wounds

Police are investigating the shooting death of a man found with multiple gunshot wounds inside a car in Queens. Ronny Valdez, 29, was found Saturday morning slumped over the wheel of a White Acura with New Jersey license plates in Howard Beach. Neighbors say Valdez was shot while driving and lost control of the vehicle, side-swiping another car before coming to a stop. Read More: NY1

Met Mike Baxter comes home


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Mike Baxter

New York Met Mike Baxter returned to his Whitestone roots when he visited the Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League (DGAL) on Saturday, October 29. Baxter shared skills that got him into the Major Leagues with kids from the community – emphasizing the importance of education. He told the kids that if they work hard and study, good things will happen. He also spent time on hitting tips, ensuring that Baxter will not be the last pro to come out of Whitestone.
DGAL is a non-profit organization serving the Whitestone community since 1955. The organization provides programs to youngsters with an emphasis on instruction, sportsmanship and teamwork. For more information, visit www.dwarfgiraffe.com.