As far as "on this date" goes, today is a big one. Fifty years ago today - June 5, 1966 - I attended my 1st New York Mets game. Just like today, it was a Sunday. Shea Stadium was only in its 3rd season. My father, mother and I left early for the 1pm doubleheader against the Dodgers. On the way down - as we traversed the Taconic, Saw Mill River, Cross County, and Hutchinson Parkways - I learned about the 7th inning stretch. We made it over the Whitestone Bridge and got stuck in traffic on the Whitestone Expressway but eventually made it to Gate C. We weren't certain where the seats were, but the usher said keep going up the escalators, all the way to Upper Reserved - at the time the green seats. My mom picked a bad day to wear heels. Walking through the tunnel from the concourse opened up a sea of color. Watching games on a 19 inch black and white TV didn't prepare you for that vision. Finally planted in our seats directly above home plate, I settled down to learn the basics of scorekeeping from my mom. She was the big baseball fan: more about that in a moment. Sandy Koufax versus Gerry Arrigo. Yes, I got to see Koufax in his final year. Ron Hunt had the 1st Mets inside the park homer. Gerry Arrigo hit a double, but was removed from the game the next inning. I asked why; my mom said it was because he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings. The Mets would go on to lose this game 16-3. But fear not, the Mets would win the nightcap by a score of 3-2. So in one day, I saw the ups and downs of being a Mets fan. 20 years later, I would be there with my father when they won their 2nd (and most recent) World Series and 42 years later with my wife Susan and son Andrew for the Mets final victory at Shea.
So why the Mets? In the late 40s and early 50s, my mother worked in the City as a registered nurse. She attended a lot of baseball games, sometimes at the Polo Grounds for weekday matinees but mostly Ebbets Field. After all, she was born in Brooklyn. She knew a man, Bill Gibson, who worked for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their ticket office. Bill would get my mom great seats for games. When the Dodgers moved west, Bill didn't follow. And in 1962, he ended up working for the Mets in their ticket office. Every March, Bill would make sure to mail our family a ticket brochure. And in 1966, at 8 years old, I was old enough to go. And that's the story. I thank for parents for bringing me to that game and thank God that Bill didn't end up working in the Bronx.
In honor of this occasion, here is a link to the song played by Jane Jarvis on the Thomas organ when the Mets took the field in the 60s and early 70s. It's called Let's Go Mets. It's a rare find that was posted last month on the WOR website by Mets broadcaster and life long Mets fan Howie Rose. This song instantly transports me back to growing up and attending Mets games at Shea. #LGM