Tag Archives: Shea Stadium

Mets roll back ticket prices for 50th anniversary of Shea Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy the New York Mets

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Mets fans will have something to cheer about, at least when it comes to the cost of tickets.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team’s former home, Shea Stadium, the New York Mets announced Sunday that it will roll back ticket prices for games this coming weekend.

A limited number of tickets will be available for $3.50, when the Mets host the Atlanta Braves from April 18 to 20. Shea officially opened on April 17, 1964, when the Mets hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The team will also offer some baseline box seats for $19.64, with an eight ticket per person limit. Tickets must be purchased in advance over the phone or online at Mets.com/1964.

The offer will not be available at team stores, ticket windows or on game day.

 

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First Queens Baseball Convention reveals spirit of Mets fans


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

New York Mets fans have heard this maybe a million times—they have a troubled franchise.

The team has not won a World Series in nearly three decades, and have been disappointing in the last five years as they have struggled just to stay above .500.

That’s just scratching the surface of issues, but even as frustrating as that has been, the spirit of Mets fans is alive and well, and was strongly represented by more than 400 fans at the first-ever Queens Baseball Convention (QBC) Saturday.

“It’s pretty exciting. We may not be in the playoffs every year, but it’s cool to see everyone, and the spirit of Mets fans,” said Andrew Hermida, an illustrator, who was selling his original Mr. Met drawings at the QBC.

The event, which was at McFadden’s bar in Citi Field, was organized by a trio of die hard Mets fans—Shannon “Shark” Prior and Keith Blacknick, the pair behind blog site Metspolice.com, and The 7 Line clothing brand founder Darren Meenan.

The premise was simply to celebrate the past figures of the franchise, a hopefully fruitful future, and just being Mets fan–and there was plenty for fans to do. Wearing orange and blue shirts, jerseys, caps, socks, shoes, and jackets, the Mets faithful played games, enjoyed Mets trivia, bought parts of the old Shea Stadium and Mets memorabilia, paraded in their jerseys, and talked about the past and the upcoming season.

“Hundreds of people paid $35 to celebrate a team that hasn’t won anything in years. It’s like some weird cult,” said Mets fan and comedian Jeff Hysen, who was the event’s MC.

Parents attended the QBC with their children, who brought their children, as generations of fans were present. The kids tried their hand at a dunk tank and got their faces painted.

The event surely attracted many fans for its guest speakers, which included former players Ron Darling and Ed Kranepool, members of the Mets 1986 and 1969 World Series teams respectively.

The former players signed autographs for fans, and had question-and-answer sessions. Even Darling, who is now a baseball broadcaster, was astounded at how much love fans showed their troubled franchise.

“You guys never give up,” Darling said about Mets fans during his forum. “I don’t know how you do it.”

That’s because to some, being a fan isn’t about winning.

“Sports is not about winning, it’s about enjoying the sport. I don’t think it’s exciting to be on the winning team every year. You have to have something to play for,” said Heidi Springer of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who attended the event with her husband and two sons.

The first QBC attracted a strong crowd, many of whom said they would like to see the event return. Organizers did say they would like to make it an annual event, but are just happy for the turnout of the first QBC.

“The good part about it is everyone that’s involved in it is a Mets fan,” Meenan said. “It’s really a team effort.”

 

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Teen who ran onto field at All-Star Game faces year in jail


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/rurbanlegend1·

The truth is that this dare landed him in hot water.

The teenager who ran onto the field during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Citi Field as part of a Twitter dare may pay big for that error in judgment.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that Dylan McCue-Masone, 18, has been arraigned on charges of interfering with a professional sporting event and third-degree criminal trespass, and faces up to a year in jail and $5,000 in penalties.

“The defendant is accused of interfering with a nationally televised sporting event and the enjoyment of the viewing public,” Brown said. “What is particularly disturbing in this case is that the incident occurred while the game was in progress and the players were on the field.”

McCue-Masone allegedly created the dare to run on the field after receiving 1,000 twitter responses, according to the district attorney.

Brown acknowledged that McCue-Masone was an excited young sports fan but said “There is no such thing as being too careful,” citing the 1993 incident when a spectator stabbed professional tennis player Monica Seles during a match in Germany.

Brown added, “Which is why my office and the operators of the various sports arenas in Queens County have zero tolerance for spectators who fail to conduct themselves responsibly at sporting events.”

The city council passed the Interference with a Professional Sporting Event Law in 2003 after fashion designer Calvin Klein stepped out onto the basketball court at Madison Square Garden in 2003 to speak with Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell during a game.

New Jersey resident John McCarthy, 38, was the first person charged under the law when he ran onto the field during a Mets game at Shea Stadium on May 4, 2004, carrying a sign that read “Howard Stern: Here’s Johnny.”

McCarthy pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight weekends in jail, fined $2,000 and ordered to serve three years’ probation, while being banned from Shea.

YouTube/rurbanlegend1

Fan, former player reaction to Piazza and Baseball Hall of Fame vote


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Ten days after the world stopped and cried for New York, Mike Piazza made history with a swing of the bat that gave the city hope once again.

The September 21, 2001 homerun Piazza hit was late in the first professional sports game since the September 11 attacks, and gave the Mets the lead in front of thousands of fans, many of whom were first responders.

A power hitter who revived the fan base in the late 1990s and 2000s, Piazza was etched into the baseball history books because of this moment.

But will he have to wait before his plaque makes it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Piazza did not receive enough votes to make it in to Cooperstown, nor did any other candidate — the first time since 1996 that writers failed to vote someone in.

The 12-time All Star catcher played in the Steroid Era of baseball and was on the same ballot as alleged steroid users Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. Piazza was never directly linked to using steroids, but many baseball critics were concerned his just playing during the tainted era would hurt his chances.

Piazza batted .296 and hit 220 homeruns in orange and blue between May 1998 to September 2005. He hit his 352nd career dinger in 2004 to surpass Carlton Fisk as the alltime homerun hitter for catchers. If he does make it to the Hall of Fame, Piazza has said he wants to be remembered as a Met and not a Los Angeles Dodger, where he started his career.

Paul LoDuca, who took over as catcher after Piazza left Flushing at the end of 2005, tweeted disappointment that baseball writers hadn’t voted in his colleague.

“Once again: Tell the Voters to strap on the gear for 9 innings and put the numbers up Mike Piazza did,” LoDuca tweeted. “I don’t care if he used rocket fuel.”

LoDuca, who admitted to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) during his career, followed up later by saying an entire generation of baseball should not be scolded for the mistakes of some.

“I took PEDs and I’m not proud of it,” he wrote. “But people that think you can take a shot or a pill and play like the legends on that ballot need help.”

David Adler of Bay Terrace, a 50-year Met fan, was disappointed Piazza did not get enough votes this year, and credited it to accused steriod users taking away votes.

“He [Piazza] should have gotten in,” he said. “A lot of votes went to players using performance enhancing drugs and that, I feel, took votes away for him.”

Adelr and other fans are sure Piazza will one day make it into Cooperstown with an interlocking “NY” on his cap.

“He went to the World Series with the Mets, not as a Dodger,” Adelr said. “You would think that that would count for something.”

— With additional reporting by Anthony O’Reilly

 

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Former Met Mike Piazza, other nominees not voted into Baseball Hall of Fame; first time no inductees since 1996


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

No one’s going on the wall this year.

The candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame failed to get the needed 75-percent of votes today to make it into Cooperstown. This was the first time since 1996 that no one was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

One of those ball players was Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who, according to MLB.com, received 57.8 percent of the vote on his first ballot appearance.

Several sluggers accused of using performance enhancing drugs also appeared on the ballot: Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire.

After the announcement that seems to be stunning the baseball world, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon commented that, “we are optimistic one day soon Mike‘s plaque, with a Mets cap, will be hanging in Cooperstown where it truly belongs.”

 

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Exhibit chronicles final innings of Shea and Yankee stadiums


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

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At the end of the 2008 Major League Baseball season, Shea Stadium closed its doors for the last time.

From the grass the players ran on, to the seats the fans occupied, everything was either destroyed or sold as the Mets prepared to open the doors to a brand new home, much like their crosstown rivals, the Yankees.. Today the new ballparks, Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium, loom over the sites of their predecessors.

But a new photo exhibit by the Greater Astoria Historical Society (GAHS) of the old stadiums’ demolition is giving fans a chance to revisit the fields that were havens for generations of fans.

“This exhibit is dedicated to two stadiums that were torn down in rapid succession,” said Bob Singleton, executive director of the GAHS. “Their demolition removed our physical connections to them, but their vivid memories will remain in the balance of our lives.”

The exhibit will run in the gallery of the GAHS in Long Island City until mid-September. Gallery hours are Monday and Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. The exhibition is the work of photographers Rich Scarpitta, Steve Spak and Rob Yasinsac.

“Far more than just bricks and rebar, they became a place of legend and myth, where the human experience was played out within their confines,” Singleton said. “To some they were hallowed ground. Watching giant machinery delicately pick apart the rubble was akin to witnessing a Jurassic ballet.”

Although the demolition was significant for fans, Singleton said it also held special meaning for the photographers and construction workers at the sites.

“Those who were a part of that experience were fully cognizant that they were witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Singleton said. “For the demo men, photographers, and the curious public alike, these extraordinary places etched something unforgettable into their souls one last time.”

The exhibit also seeks to represent the cycle of life and death, which the stadium’s construction taught current fans.

“In the wings awaits a new generation and memories yet to be made,” Singleton said.

Willets West will ‘commemorate’ Shea


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

SHEA BASE 02w

To the left of Citi Field’s main entrance is a parking lot where Shea Stadium once stood.

In this parking lot, amid the white lines that now outline parking spaces, are four bronze plaques that mark the bases that made Shea’s diamond. A first base where Keith Hernandez and Ed Kranepool stood; second where Wally Backman darted back and forth; third base, where more than 120 have played the position, from Don Zimmer in 1962 to current all-star David Wright.Then a home plate 90 feet away from a bronze rectangle to outline where Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and many others would set team and MLB records.

This site will soon, however, become home to Willets West, a one-million-square-foot shopping area that promises to bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the area.

While there are no set plans how the bases, or Shea’s 44-year legacy, will be remembered, fans and developers agree there should be some sort of tribute to the ballpark.

Ron Dresner, who is the managing editor of The Very Unofficial Mets Fan Site, said development in the area is something he supported fully — noting that Willets Point has always been prime for that. At the same time, the lay of the land needs to also be considered, he said.

“You can still move ahead with economic development and neighborhood plans but customize the design according to your ‘landscape,’” he said.

“I am not a design or engineering professional, but any new plans must incorporate the memory and recognition of Shea Stadium – especially marking the base locations,” he continued. “The last thing I would want to see is some huge movie complex built right over the old Shea diamond.”

Speaking on behalf of the Queens Development Group, spokesperson Cristyne Nicholas said that as Willets West was in the earliest stages, there had not been a set-out plan to memorialize the former home of the Mets and Jets. The developers would, however, ensure that the would be some sort of tribute in the 200-store shopping area.

“Although Willets West is still in the early planning phase and the design layout has not yet been finalized, Shea Stadium and its historic contribution to Queens will be properly and proudly commemorated,” she said.

Dresner noted that in the past the team’s legacy has been put into question. In 2009 when Citi Field opened, he said the ballpark overemphasized its Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants roots with little to no memory of the stadium where the Mets won two World Series championships.

Mets to host 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Citi Field

Next year, the Mets home will field an all star at every position.

Commissioner Bud Selig, Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Citi Field will host the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at a press conference Wednesday, May 16. This marks the ninth time the Midsummer Classic will be played in the city.

“Next year’s All-Star Game is going to demonstrate once again that there’s no place like New York for world-class sporting events,” said Bloomberg. “Major League Baseball clearly recognizes this, since they’re bringing the All-Star Game back to New York for the second time in just five years.”

Yankee Stadium held the game in 2008, its final season.

The Mets last played host to the annual gathering of the game’s greatest players in Shea Stadium’s inaugural season 1964.

That game featured Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson. The National League pushed across four runs in the ninth and won thanks to a Johnny Callison walk-off home run.

“It’s a great honor for everyone at the Mets to host the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field,” said Wilpon, who has “dreamed about this” for quite a while.

Queens baseball fans anxiously await the game that decides home field advantage for the World Series.

“I went to the All-Star Fan Fest when it was at Yankee Stadium, and it was pretty cool,” said Corona resident Edwin Rodriguez, a die-hard Mets fan. “So I’m excited about going to that again and just representing the fan’s here now it’s coming to Citi Field.”

“I want to go to the whole thing,” he said. “I want to go to the home run derby.”

The game and home run derby will be part of a “five day celebration of [the] great sport,” Selig said, adding that more events will be announced for the festivities that will run between July 12 and the game on Tuesday, July 16.

The “big news for baseball fans” will also provide the city with $192 million in economic impact and draw more than 175,000 visitors to the city, Bloomberg said who received two Mets jerseys with All Star and New York emblazoned across the back above the number 13 from Wilpon.

“I plan to go,” said Joshua Fermin. “If [my friends] are going to come with me I’ll definitely be there.”

— Additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

Russ Gompers has the pros in ‘stitches’


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Russ Gompers is a lifelong Mets fan. He’s seen the highs, the lows and the mediocrity in between. He was there when the team reached baseball’s peak in 1969, then again in 1986. He was also there when the Mets closed Shea Stadium with a collapse in the standings in 2008.

But beyond the usual fandom stories that roll off the tongue of many Queens residents wearing orange and blue glasses, Gompers has a special connection with New York’s National League team. One might say that he’s been on the field with them for the last 18 years.

Owner of Stitches in Whitestone, Gompers does all of the official stitching for the New York Mets. And recently, he was given a very special assignment.

After Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter passed away, Mets officials declared that all team jerseys in 2012 would feature a commemorative patch honoring the player known as “The Kid.” And on February 28, Gompers received the delivery — all of the Mets players’ jerseys, along with the Carter patch, a black home plate reading “KID 8.”

“I remember watching Monday Night Football and they announced the Mets got Carter. I said at the time that he was the final piece,” said Gompers. “Everyone should play the game as he played it — as the Kid had fun and played hard all the time.”

Gompers has no problem relating to that nickname himself, as his office resembles the fantasy of every young sports fan: wall-to-wall memorabilia, much of it personalized. A signed picture of Dwight Gooden sits on one end of the cramped space, right across from one of Mike Piazza. And right above a Mets recliner hangs a framed and signed Bobby Valentine jersey featuring three September 11 patches designed by Gompers.

His office above the Stitches warehouse is more than a shrine to his favorite teams — which inexplicably includes the Miami Dolphins — the office is also a tangible memory bank, a place where Gompers recalls standout moments in a sporting life.

It was October 1986. His father had passed away weeks prior and Gompers found himself at game six of the World Series with the Mets about to be eliminated by the Boston Red Sox. With two outs and Gary Carter at the plate, Gompers looked to the heavens and said, “Me and you dad. One more time.” With that, Carter got the hit that kept the inning alive and started one of the most famous comebacks in baseball history.

To find himself now overseeing the placement of these patches on his favorite team’s jersey is almost too much for Gompers to believe.

“It’s really amazing,” he said. “To end up doing work for the teams I grew up rooting for — it’s a dream come true.”

Besides the Mets, Stitches also does work for the New York Islanders, New York Knicks and a host of Little League, high school and college teams. Much of the enjoyment Gompers gets from his job is seeing the faces of young players when they see their jerseys for the first time.

“I tell coaches when they come in — I make them look good, but you have to make them play good,” he said. “But when they’re dressed like pros, it adds a little pep in their step.”

And it adds more recollections — high, low or mediocre — to the sports memory bank of this Bayside man living his dream.

To find out more about Stitches, visit www.stitchesny.com or call Russ Gompers at 718-747-6444.