Back in the month of March, a bet was made by myself and Brian Joura. His N.C State Wolfpack did battle with my Seton Hall Pirates in the best basketball there is- March Madness. The wager was the loser’s favorite baseball card. I was hoping my Pirates would pull through, so I wouldn’t have to do away with my Mike Piazza stained glass card. Thankfully, The Hall took home the victory, and Brian, being a man of his word, sent me his favorite card. The card was a beauty, a 1968 Gil Hodges manager card. As if the imagery and existence weren’t cool enough in their own right, the description was mind-blowing. You know it is authentic when they described Hodges as a “first sacker.”
As much as I love the card, I instantly had an idea of what I was going to do with the card. No, it was not destined for the spokes of my bicycle like I’m sure many kids did with copies of a manager’s card back in 1968. I knew from the start that this card would not be for me, but my father. It is often the case that your father determines the team you root for in your early childhood, whether it be rooting for his team or against it. Sadly, I got dragged into the fandom of this team, and I am so thankful that I did. Through rooting for the team, I have had so many memories that could never have been possible.
My first ever game came in 2006, a very memorable year for Mets fans. Sure, back then I didn’t quite understand why some players would get booed or even what a halfway decent batting average was. However, absolutely nothing could beat the view of walking up the tunnel at Shea Stadium and seeing a Major League baseball field for the first time.
Of course, when my father was a kid, he went to Shea when times were very different. What we spend on parking now at Citi Field, $25, he wouldn’t even spend on tickets, food, and transportation. I’ve heard the tales of players from Rusty to Mookie, of managers from Hodges to Valentine. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a unique oral history of my favorite team from a man that was born before the conception of it. That’s the best part of having that connection between father and son or father and daughter, the way one dad will teach their child about baseball is different than the next one.
It will come packaged next to a bottle of Mets red wine, to be gifted before we head to a barbeque. It may be an awesome gift, but I have been able to have one of the best gifts one can receive. I have received the opportunity to love something with my father, and genuinely enjoy it, even if this team breaks my heart on a nightly basis. Thank you Brian, for the awesome gift for my father and happy Father’s day out there to all of the Mets loving dads!