Shea Stadium's open letter to Citi Field
Mets' old home empathizes with first-year facility's situation
The Mets' home season, their first at Citi Field, has 12 games remaining. It hardly has gone according to plan. Citi is where the Mets hang their hats these days. And Citi hangs its head after 69 games. It hardly is the first ballpark to deal with abject disappointment. Shea Stadium was quite familiar with the experience. And what follows is Shea's letter of empathy to Citi.
How's it going? I guess it could be a lot better, huh? I've been meaning to write for a long time, but I was waiting for things to turn around. Guess it's too late now. What do ya got, 12 more games? Just wanted to let you know I feel for ya. We're buddies, right? I have a pretty good idea what you're going through. I went through it, too, more than once. And Polo, the guy before me, had a couple of really bad ones. It's not easy when the Mets have one of those seasons.
I'm sure you hoped for something better in your first year. I did, too, in 1964. But I knew better. You had a right to expect a pretty good season. Your guys had a lot of talent, much more than my guys in '64. We had Ron Hunt then, and Little Alvin Jackson, Fat Jack Fisher, Roy McMillan, Charley Smith. We had Frank Lary. He killed the Yankees, but we didn't play Interleague then. And we had the kid, Krane. He was just a kid, 19 and in his third season. We had nothing like Wright and Reyes and Beltran, nothing close to Santana. We had three guys lose 20 in '64.
But no one expected anything from us except another last-place finish. And that's what we gave 'em, 109 losses, 40 games out. Your guys were supposed to contend, right? I thought they had a shot. Turns out the way Lidge has pitched, they would have had a chance if they didn't break down. In my 45 years, I've never seen anything like what's happened to your guys. We lost Rusty in '72 and that killed us. We had the whole rotation go down in '87, and we ended up losing by three games. And when Pedro and El Duque went down late in '06, it really hurt.
But your guys lost almost the whole team. Even David. He's one of your guys who I had, and I know he never wanted to go on the DL. But it got just about all the guys. And how 'bout Louie Castillo falling down the steps? I understand you feel a little guilty about that one. Pat Zachry broke his toe on the steps of my dugout in '78 after he gave up a hit to Rose. And I always felt bad about Rusty hurting his shoulder on my right-field wall in the '73 playoffs. I might have had three World Series flags if Rusty was 100 percent in the Series.
But your guys won't even get in. That's tough. Sorry. Let me tell ya, nothing feels better than wearing the postseason bunting. I must say, I looked pretty good duded up in red, white and blue in October. I'm sure you'll get your chance.
Otherwise, how'd your first season go? I know you took some grief for all the Dodgers stuff. But that was Fred's passion as a kid. It doesn't fade. And the rotunda is real cool. I didn't have anything like that. Anyway, I see there's a lot more Mets stuff now. Those flags outside. They're all my guys -- George Thomas, Koosy and Gil. Tug, I miss him! -- and Agee and Cleon. Mex, Doc and Straw. Big Mike. And I love that Doc signed on that wall inside.
I see you've got your own apple. Too bad it's not used more. And my old one is still there by the bullpens. Cool. Straw and Piazza and HoJo wore mine out. I saw Church just missed yours before he left.
And how 'bout that shot Adam Dunn hit off Santana in May? That must have left a bruise. I think the longest ones I gave up were by Kingman, Richie Allen and Mo Vaughn. Mo's got me right in the scoreboard. It left a mark. Piazza and Straw hit a lot of long ones, too.
The biggest ones I gave up were Ray's in Game 7, and Al Weis in Game 5 in 1969. Lenny hit that big one in the playoffs in '86. Straw crushed that one off Nolie in Game 5 of the playoffs. You remember the one Benny hit to beat the Giants in 2000? It hasn't come down yet; it had Kingman hang time. And Mike hit those two against the Braves in 2000 and the next year after 9/11. Rockets.
You'll have some as soon as the guys aren't spooked by how big your outfield is. And those tall walls. Seaver and Doc might have won 30 if they had those walls. But a tall wall would have made Endy's catch impossible. And, no offense to Agee and Swoboda or Beltran or Mookie, but Endy's play was the best one I ever had.
I'm pretty proud of what my guys accomplished over the years. You've never seen anything like 1969. Ask Kiner. They tore up my lawn, but it didn't hurt much. I had that crazy guy parachute in '86. But that was nothing compared to the Buckner Ball. I've never said this to anyone, but I was ready to give Mookie a little shove from behind to make sure he'd beat it out even if Billy Buck made the play. Hey, now one would have known.
The only other time I ever thought of interfering was in 1969, when Seaver pitched The Imperfect Game. I was going to keep Qualls' ball in the air long enough for Agee to make the play. And I swear on my Sporting News I had nothing to do with the Wall Ball in 1973. It just happened.
I'm sure you'll get the no-hitter I never got. You know it probably won't be Santana or Pelfrey or anyone logical. It'll be someone like Anthony Young someday when everything goes right. But who knows, maybe the Ryan Curse will live on. I used to say if Doc didn't throw one in '85, no one could. You know, I was pulling for Glavine in 2004 when that Rockies kid Kit Pellow or Mellow or Jello got that hit late.
You'll have your moments, Citi. Be patient. You already had a triple play ... to end the game. Casey was right. Amazin'. And when Wags came back, it was touching. You had the '69 guys back last month. Had to be great. I'll never see them again. Garrett looks like he's 30. Those redheads never age. And you had McCartney. How cool was that? Of course, you know I had all four of the guys. Twice. You couldn't even hear the planes those nights. And I had the Stones, the Pope, Clapton and Billy Joel last year.
When McCartney joined Joel, that was a moment. Man! It kinda made up a little for the bad endings the last two years. They were awful. I felt so bad for Glavine. He's such a pro. And Santana pitched so great the next-to-last day last year. I thought I'd have a few more weeks.
But they started taking me apart right away. Hey, you know if anyone ever bought Seaver's locker? And I wonder what they did with the air-conditioning unit from my visiting clubhouse. You know Polo gave that to me. Yeah, I had an AC transplant. He was the donor.
Anyway, that's it for now. Hope your last 12 games are fun. Hope they're taking care of you the way Bob Mandt and Pete Flynn took care of me.
I see you're getting Beltran back, right? Tell him good luck from me. I'd like to see Maine come back, too, and pitch on your mound again. Enjoy those guys while you have 'em, buddy. It goes fast. My 45 years went by pretty quick. I still wish I had had more time with Ventura, Stevie Henderson, Wags, Crazy Roger, Buddy, Wally, Maz, Gilkey, Zeile, Joe McIlvaine, Tuff, the Bad Dude, Mookie, Lenny Harris, Gardy, Dallas, Swanny, McCarver, Little Alvin, Frey, Darling, Jay, Jimmy Plummer, Hundley, Raffy, Santana, Hondo, Danny Castellano, Ellie, Rusty, Bambi, Torre, Flynn, Zack, Cliff, Moises and Cameron. What great guys they were! You might not remember Kelvin Chapman, but he was good people. Johnny Franco was here a long time, but I miss him. He made me laugh every day. And Jeff Innis ... he was a great character. But that's for another letter.
Say hi to Ralph and the other guys in the booth. Write back a letter. I don't use e-mail. Let me know how you're doing. And I'll pass it on to Murph, Jean Coen, Gil, Agee and Tom McKenna and Tug, of course. See ya. Let's Go Mets!
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.