I met Omar Minaya once. We encountered each other on the elevator at Shea Stadium before the Mets’ game against the Seattle Mariners on June 25th, 2008. The entire event comprised probably less than two minutes but in that short span of time, I still managed to unnerve him. Here’s the story:
On June 17, 2008, Minaya and Tony Bernazard fired Willie Randolph and several coaches after a victory on the road to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2008, the Mets had been playing to a disappointing .500 won/loss record. This followed the heart-breaking collapse at the end of the 2007 season under Randolph. Randolph was replaced by interim manager Jerry Manuel.
Anyway, my son and I had tickets which allowed us access to the Diamond Club and Charcoal Room and if you remember Shea Stadium, you know that in the hallway between these two dining facilities stood the original Mets’ “Hall of Fame” wherein busts of Casey Stengel, George Weiss, Gil Hodges, Bud Harrelson, Tom Seaver, et al, as well as their two World Championship trophies resided inside glass cases.
After my son and I ate at the Charcoal Room and finished looking at the trophies, we got on the elevator to take us down to our seats on the Field Level. These elevators at Shea were rather large and could hold a sizable group of people; there were maybe 18 people or so on board in addition to the young lady employed to sit and push the elevator buttons. We are all standing relatively close together. We were the last ones on until Minaya comes around the corner and steps inside just as the doors were closing.
Now I immediately think to myself, “Wait. Are you kidding me? That’s Omar Minaya”. My son has no clue who he is standing with. Minaya starts talking to the elevator operator and I suddenly tap him on the shoulder. Minaya turns towards me and I say, “Mr. Minaya. I’m a life-long Met fan”. And he responds, “Oh well, that’s nice”. And then he turns back to his conversation. So I tap him on the shoulder again and say, “Mr. Minaya. I support your decision to relieve the manager”. Again he turns around again, looks at me a little more slowly this time and says, “oh well, thank you.” And again he immediately turns back to the girl and tries to converse with her. Now we have probably only traveled one level during this exchange but its clear that Minaya can’t wait to get out. Nobody else on the elevator has any clue that I’m talking to the man running the Mets’ organization. Again, I tap him on the shoulder and again he turns to face me and this time his face is a reluctant grimace. He sort of looks around me as if to make sure I’m not carrying any concealed weapon. And I say, “Mr. Minaya, allow me to introduce my son, Alex (who was a teenager then). He’s a Met fan too.” And at this point, he says, “oh well, that certainly is nice.” And my son says, “hi” not having any clue who he is saying hello to. Then the doors open, on the floor with the team offices and Minaya bolts out of the elevator and through the glass doors of his office but before the elevator doors completely close, I can see him take a quick look over his shoulder to make sure that I’m not following him.
Anyway, Alex and I make it to our seats. My son asks me who that guy was we just talked to and I tell him, he’s the General Manager of the Mets. He says, “I had no clue…I thought you ran into some guy you grew up with”. And I say, “no….that would’ve been somebody who didn’t think we were stalkers”.
And that was that…except to say that the Mets beat the Mariners 8-2 that night. Oh…and Minaya took his last elevator ride for the Mets in 2010.