When I think of Shea Stadium, I go back to the first MLB game I attended which was on August 13, 1967, with my father and older brother to see my favorite team the Mets play the Pittsburgh Pirates. I was just 9 years old.
We sat in the mezzanine section. I was so excited with my glove in hand. Dad told me to bring mine as I might catch a foul ball. That didn't happen. My team won 11-9. I lost my voice from rooting so hard. I saw Willie Stargell hit a homer and Ron Swoboda hit one as well. The Mets that night had 16 hits and one of my favorite players Cleon Jones went 2 for 4. Ron Swoboda and Ed Kranepool were the Mets hitting stars that night as they each drove in 3 runs.
There's no better bonding than when a father takes a son to his first game. That is if you are big Baseball fans like my brother, father and I were.
Years later on April 5, 1983, I was at opening day at Shea watching my baseball hero Tom Seaver pitch for the first time after he returned to the Mets. The Mets won again that day 2-0. It was Seaver vs. Carlton. Though Seaver didn't get the win, he pitched well, going 6 scoreless innings allowing 3 hits, and struck out 5 batters. He was relieved by Doug Sisk who pitched the final 3 innings and got the win. I will never forget the crowd's electricity in the stadium that day when Seaver stepped back on the mound in a Mets uniform once again. It was a homecoming for a Mets legend they called "The Franchise." I stood with the other 46,686 fans to give Seaver a 2-minute standing ovation as he took the mound. He tipped his cap to the crowd. I remember how he was so poised and focused as he always was.
Years earlier when Seaver was first with the Mets, my father drove me, my brother, and two of our friends to see "Tom Terrific." We didn't have tickets. My father thought we could get them at the game but we had no such luck. The game was a sellout. We didn't know this obviously. There was no Internet. We were told when we got to the Box Office, that they just sold out. We were all disappointed that hot summer's night in the mid-1970s. The car ride home back to Port Jefferson was long and a hot one as Dad didn't have AC and it was 6 of us in his 1969 Chevelle Malibu.
Another special moment at Shea was during another game I attended in the 1980s, Ed Kranepool was signing autographs in the lobby area. I got my ball signed and we spoke briefly. I said, "You are from Monroe High School in the Bronx." He said, "Yes I am." Are you he asked? I said no, my friend's father told me you were from there and how big of a High School star you were. I said pleased to meet you and walked away.
One of the best things the Wilpon-owned Mets did was have a huge ceremony in 2008 to mark the end of the Shea Stadium era (1964-2008). It was billed as "Shea Goodbye: 45 years of Amazin". I watched it from start to finish it was so memorable, so emotional watching Mets Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza walk together. Seeing Dave Kingman, Ron Swoboda, Cleon Jones, Ed Kranepool, Jerry Koosman, and all the other Mets of the past. It was so well produced.
Shea Stadium will forever be a part of me as a Mets fan. I attended about 25 or more games over the years, none more memorable than the first game I ever attended and the day I got to see my Baseball hero Tom Seaver pitch again for the Mets. The day Tom Seaver died on August 31, 2020, I cried