Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It Happens Every Spring (Training)

Today life begins once again. Pitchers and catchers report to The Mets spring training facilities in Port St. Lucie, Florida. This scenario is being repeated all over Florida and Arizona this week. The disappointments of the past season - and as a Mets fan there were many - have been put behind us, and optimism abounds. Today, no team is any games behind any other. Today, all teams have won the exact same number of 2011 games ... none.

Football may have become the post popular sport in the US thanks to the NFL's agressive marketing, but what better sport to bring families together than baseball? My father's uncle introduced him to the joys and frustrations of being a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and prior to the deserting us for Los Angeles after the 1957 season, my dad did the same for me. We both continued to follow the Dodgers on TV until 1962 when the Mets were born. We didn't care that they lost 120 games that season, it was our team, and my dad and I could sit in the stands on a sunny summer day in July and August in the Polo Grounds - formerly home of the enemy NY Giants - and watch The Mets (attempt to) play baseball. Years later, when I was married and had my own kids, I would continue this piece of family bonding. Thanks to 14 years of a season plan in the 1980's and 1990's (the final season was 2000), my son and my daughter and I spent quality time together through the good seasons and bad. Those games were spent in more than watching baseball. Yes, my son and I talked strategy (he was a catcher like I was), and my daughter learned how keep a scorecard, but much more happened during those times together. We formed a bond which still exists today, as I did with my dad. What a special night that was when my grandfather, my great-uncle, my father and I were together at Shea Stadium that night in September, 1969 when the black cat walked in front of Ron Santo and the Chicago Cubs dugout.

Shea Goodbye - from our old seats
Now when I watch a Mets game, I know that my father will most likely call me from Florida during the game to talk about it ... and my son, who still lives here on Staten Island may call me as well. When The Mets played their final game at Shea Stadium, and I was able to get tickets, my daughter flew up from Florida (where she now lives) to go to the game with me. While we were there we visited our old seats where we sat for more than 30 games a year for so many years. We watched as The Mets finished a collapse which saw them miss the playoffs on that final day - that final game. We watched as the last game pitch was thrown, and as the final ceremonial pitch was thrown.

And when, the next season, The Mets moved into their new home at Citi Field, my son and I attended the first game played there - a college match. (I will admit that one parenting mistake of mine was to allow my son to root for a different NHL team than I do ... but that is a story for a whole other blog entry.)
A week later, when The Mets played their first game at Citi Field, once again Iris flew up to attend that game with me. Both were very special occasions, for more than simply the ballgame, but because it was something that we still could share. Happily that is but one of many things.
Now it is time to bring the next generation into the picture. This past summer, my grandtwins attended their first Mets game (and their first Brooklyn Cyclones game as well) for another of those 3 generation ballgames. And the tradition continues.
So here's to another baseball season - at the moment, full of hope! Let the traditions continue.


  1. Those sorts of traditions are the ones that are important - because you get to spend time with each other and pass on your values while just plain enjoying yourselves!