Monday, September 29, 2008

Goodbye Shea

Shea Stadium closed yesterday (in horrific fashion) but I have lots of great memories of the place. Dwight Gooden striking out 16 Giants, the group trip in high school on Flip-Flop Night (those were good shoes), a Jets game where I was so high up I was scared, heckling Sid Fernandez's abysmal hustle at a 1986 doubleheader and a glorious come-from-behind win from 1984 that was the best time I've ever had at a ballpark. Good times. I also remember the Dodgers winning a big game with a late home run and watching an entire game through a freezing misty rain to see John Rocker get a save. Anyway, here's a story from Deadspin's Shea memories page:

Bat Day. We were at a packed Friday night game in the late '80s, in just about the worst possible seats — upper deck, all the way out by the left field foul pole. The section was filled mostly with after-work drunks, but a few rows in front of us was a family, and in the first inning this little girl, maybe five or six years old, stands up and holds over her head a tiny piece of notebook paper on which she's written "Go Darryl!" or something like that. It was cute, but also kind of comical because the seats were about three miles from home plate and there was no way Darryl could have seen this sign without a telescope. So there's some laughter behind her, and then this one guy, just as a joke for his buddies, shouts "Down in front!" — as if this little girl and her miniature sign were obstructing his view of the action. But the girl hears him. She turns around, and cringes, and sits back down. The whole section starts unloading on this guy, which just makes it worse, because the little girl thinks they're booing her. Her dad puts his arm around her and says something, whereupon she bursts into tears. The abuse of this guy increases by a factor of about ten. Then a chant starts building in the section, and it takes me a minute to figure out what they're saying: "BUY HER SOMETHING! BUY HER SOMETHING!" So the guy leaves his seat, and an inning or two later he reappears behind the box where the family is sitting and taps the little girl on the shoulder. She turns around and with great ceremony he hands her one of those gigantic inflatable bats, probably twice as tall as she is. Her face totally lights up, we see her mouth the words "thank you," and the whole section just explodes.

1 comment:

Ted said...

(sniff) All this talk about Yankee Stadium makes me angry. Here was where I went alone one season to any game where they gave away something free, a place I snuck into during the baseball strike with a couple of my friends and no one stopped us (still big regret was never running on the field like my cohorts) and where I saw the Mets win that Game 7 (voted best moment at Shea) with Dad, after which he tried to embrace every cop on the way back to the station (and there were plenty). Never did a removal of a building bring me to tears.