Review by Mike
“it’s a beautiful day for baseball.”
The legendary Bob Murphy opened his Mets broadcasts with this simple phrase of hope and optimism for 40 years as the voice of the Mets. His was the voice of our childhood and Shea Stadium was, and still is, the place where our dreams of glory and the realities of defeat will forever live.
We grew up in Shea Stadium, starting as wide-eyed kids seeing that oh-so-green grass and those brightly colored seats for the first time, hearing those jets from LaGuardia roar overhead, gazing in wonder at a scoreboard so big that it blocked out half of Queens.
The little baseball shaped golf cart with the giant caps of the Mets and the day’s opponent bringing the relief pitchers in from the bullpen.
When a big red apple coming out of a hat seemed like a marvelous innovation.
The 7 train rumbling past the right field corner and those big, corrugated panels, painted orange and blue, suspended from cables all around the exterior and, later, the minimalist neon baseball players glowing in the fading sunlight over Flushing Bay.
Walking silently down the endless concrete ramps after another heartbreaking defeat.
Chanting “Let’s Go Mets!” spontaneously, before big screens were required to tell the crowd it was time to cheer.
Shea Stadium may have been big, it may have been noisy, it may have had lousy sightlines, but it was the best of its era of big multi-purpose stadiums. It always had natural grass, it was not enclosed, which allowed for a breeze and a view, and it was colorful, festooned in Mets blue and orange, with flags flying around the upper rim.
More than any specific physical feature good or bad, Shea Stadium had atmosphere. To be a Mets fan in the 70’s and early 80’s you had to have a sense of foolish optimism, playing across town from the hated Yankees, hearing endlessly about their 20-something championships and rich tradition and their House That Ruth Built. Mets fans had to shout twice as loud to be heard and we did. We usually lost, but we never shut up, never stopped being proud to wear the blue and orange.
And Shea was OUR house, our Theater of Dreams. Citi Field is a beautiful ballpark, but, for me, it will never truly be the home of the Mets. That honor belongs to “the big ballpark in Queens”, as Bob Murphy would call it.
We miss Bob Murphy and we miss Shea.
"As a kid in Levittown, I used to clip, save and mail off 20 Mets coupons from Dairilea milk cartons to get 1 upper deck ticket, aka "sky level". I practically forced my family and friends to drink the equivalent of 5 gallons of milk to get enough coupons in time to see a game before the season ended! If my dad drove us to the game, we usually left by the 6th inning so he could "beat the traffic" and the whole milk-gorging process would start all over again!"
Yes, Gary and I were at this game...