Shea Stadium, opening day 1964

I explained here last year how I became a Mets fan and how that gave way, over much time, to becoming a Yankees fan.

The Mets franchise came into existence in 1962. The team played in the Polo Grounds for two seasons before moving into the glistening new Shea Stadium in 1964.

I did not like Shea. My dislike was not immediately explicit, but was probably implicit from the beginning. For many seasons, however, it made no difference. It was where the Mets played and so it became them, and they was Amazin’.

My father loved ballparks and racetracks, though he spent a lot more time at the latter. When I was way young, I vaguely recall a trip to the Polo Grounds while the baseball Giants still played there. I think that my sister was there and that I had no clue as to what was going on.

Later, while the Mets played there, Dad took me to a game against the Braves (they were still playing in Milwaukee), and I think that it lasted thirteen innings. By that year, my interest in baseball had far surpassed Dad’s. Once the game went beyond nine innings he became antsy. I was thrilled. My memory is that the Mets first baseman Tim Harkness hit a home run to win the game, and Dad loved him ever after for getting us out of there.

In April ’64 Dad insisted that we go to opening day at Shea to see the first ever game played there. He wound up not liking anything about the place. By that time his bad leg was more like an inanimate fence post that he dragged around. He was dying, for sure, but the leg seemed already dead. Our seats were in the upper deck and he moved more slowly than anyone else in the place, both up the ramp and down it when the game was over.

Late that year he would take a job 200 miles away on New York State’s southern tier and eventually we bought a house up there and I finished high school in the rural confines of Chemung County. Dad and I never went to another major league game, but he made certain that we saw the Elmira Pioneers play. Our first summer up there the Pioneers were managed by one Earl Weaver, who would go on to become the Hall of Fame manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

But Shea is the subject here. In that little area in the upper deck that’s inside the left field foul pole, probably seven or eight rows up, are the seats we sat in. I’d like to have ’em.

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