The fourth in an occasional (OK, you caught me, weekly) series. I'm not going to sit here and try to defend Shea Stadium as one of the best ballparks of all time. I can honestly tell you, though, that I never walked into Shea and thought, "This place is a dump." The bottom line is, Shea is where the Mets play, and for me, it will always be special. I realize these are pretty individual memories, but I hope reading them stirs up something in your mind about some place that you may take for granted.
Got to talking to my friends last weekend about the biggest games they ever attended. Among the answers: Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (Aaron Boone), Derek Lowe's no-hitter for the Red Sox, a 2004 World Series game, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (though the 8-year-old Southern Bureau left that one early), and Game 6 of the 1996 World Series (the clincher for the Yankees...and how about those two Game 6's a decade apart for the Southern Bureau?). The interesting thing about all of those examples is that the team you would have wanted to see win in each of those scenarios won the game.
My experience with big games is not as exciting. Sure, I've been to playoff games. And I've never seen the Mets lose a playoff game - I've been to two and they were both wins. Game 3 in 1988 was an 8-4 Mets win and Game 4 in 2000 was a 10-6 win, notable because Armando Benitez closed out the game without blowing it.
I only remember three things about the 1988 game, when I was 10 - 1) It was supposed to be on a Friday night, after which my dad and I would drive up to see my cousins for a weekend in Vermont, but the game got rained out and was played on Saturday instead, putting a damper on the weekend. 2) I forgot my glasses at school that weekend, so I didn't see the game very well. My dad was mad about that. And 3) I remember Keith Hernandez taking a digger running from second to third base. I guess it wasn't very costly, so that's good.
But that's the extent of my big-game experience at Shea Stadium. Big games, sure, but not really eventful ones. Of course, being a Mets fan, I've never been to a no-hitter at Shea. The big games I remember at Shea are for events that don't even come close to playoff games in terms of importance, but for some reason they stick out in my memory even more. Here's one example:
I was at the game where Spider Man married Mary Jane. The sports angle here is that this was the game where Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson both dived (dove?) for a ball in the left-center gap, and collided. One's mouth hit the other's nose...neither was seriously injured, but it was pretty bloody...and pretty cool for a 9-year-old.
So was the "wedding". It took place before the game, with live-action characters. Spider-Man got married in his costume, and for some reason Doctor Octopus was there. Not sure I would have invited my mortal enemy to my wedding (as a matter of fact, I didn't), but to each his own. And the kids in attendance got the commemmorative comic, seen at left. I must have that somewhere - I bet it's worth keeping.
As the season winds down, I'll chronicle my other 'big games' at Shea. They don't quite match up in my mind with what my friends have seen...but when you deal with the Mets everything is relative.