« Hey, This Losing Thing Kind of Sucks, Doesn't It? | Main | Wright and Marrero Make It a Happy Father's Day »

A Father's Day Mets Memory with a Twist

Mike SteffanosSunday, June 18, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


Being that today is Father's Day, many of you are thinking back to your experiences of watching baseball games with your Dad. For most of us, it's our fathers that have the greatest influence on the team we root for. Growing up without a father, my experience was somewhat different.

I first became aware of the Mets in 1969 when I was 10. I had become a NY Giants fan the year before just from watching games on Sunday, but I found baseball tougher to get into. Because I grew up without a father I had no one to explain the game to me. All the hoopla about the miracle Mets caught my attention, though, and even in those prehistoric days before cable TV we were able to get poor but watchable reception on Channel 9 from New York in the New Haven, CT area where I grew up.

I started watching some of the games with my brother and my grandmother. She was quite a character. She wasn't a baseball fan either, but loved going to the old New Haven arena to watch the New Haven Blades, a minor league hockey team that was a legend in this area. She never learned more than the basics of the sport, but she rooted loudly and vigorously (she was somewhat of a legendary figure among regular fans). Within a relatively short period of time, she became the same type of fan for the Mets.

When I started watching Met games with my grandmother and brother I didn't know much about baseball. We were all on the same foot. As some time went by, my brother and I started developing knowledge and skepticism. I began to see the flaws in the Mets, compared to other teams in baseball. I had a fairly sophisticated understanding of the game. Meanwhile, my grandmother understood what was happening to a point, and anything beyond that she could care less about. At this time we're in the early years of the 1970s, the Mets are a mediocre team with good pitching and no offense.

Her attitude towards winning and losing saw each game as complete in and of itself. The day's game was everything. I started taking a longer view of whether or not the Mets could compete and make the playoffs. I often think back to the one game that defined the contrast between my views towards winning and losing and my grandmother's during that time period: July 17, 1973, Mets at Atlanta.

The Mets record was 38-50 going into the game, they had quite a few injuries early in the season and their offense was horrible. They had great starting pitching: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, John Matlack -- but it seems like they lost every game 2-1. They're playing in Atlanta, down 7-1 going into the ninth inning. I was frustrated and just wanted to turn the game off. I knew the Mets had as much chance of scoring 6 runs in an inning to tie the game as I did of finding a Leprechaun's pot of gold. I was 14 years old and knew and understood this, my grandmother was 65 and "didn't get it" at all. She never felt that the Mets were going to lose a game until after the final out. She wouldn't let me turn the game off -- she was certain the Mets were going to win. I was mad and basically told her she was an idiot. I stuck around so I could do an "I told you so" after the game.

Well, this team that averaged less than 4 runs a game, a team that hit 85 home runs for the entire 1973 baseball season, gets 2 2-run home runs to make it 7-5, later gets a pinch-hit single from the 100-year-old Willie Mays that drove in the tying and go-ahead runs, and holds on to win the game 8-7. I was the recipient of the "I told you so", and after that day knew that there was no turning off any game until the final out. As the '70s went on, the Mets fielded a series of teams that were almost shockingly bad. I grew disillusioned, but my Grandmother never did. No matter how bad they were, she always thought they were going to win. When they did win it was an event to be enjoyed, even if the team was 20 games under .500 and dead last. She never changed, right up until her death in 1985, just when the Mets were finally getting good again.

I remember watching game 6 of the 1986 series, and as a fan feeling that sheer joy and exuberance when the Mets came back to win. I thought almost immediately back to my grandmother who had passed away a year earlier. That was definitely one of "her" moments. She wouldn't have been surprised at all that they came back and won the game.

For the most part I enjoyed watching the games with my grandmother, although in my teenage years I began to find her joyous but unknowledgeable way of rooting for the team embarrassing in that stupid superior attitude that a teenager is capable of assuming. As I grew into my 20s and lost some of that teenage arrogance, I was more accepting of the kind of fan she was, and actually got a kick out of it. At first I admired her spirit, then I actually admired her. One of the things I love about baseball is that it is a thinking person's game, but I believe sometimes you get to a point as a fan where you lose the sheer joy of it, the thrill of victory, the good guys vs. the bad guys stuff. One of the greatest joys I had was taking her to a Mets game before she died. I bought her some sort of pennant to wave and a Mets hat. Within 10 minutes, all of the other fans in the section loved her.

You know it's funny, but I always think of her now after they win a game in an exceptional way. I still enjoy baseball intellectually, and always will. At some point I think I finally learned to enjoy it more at the level that my grandmother did, and my enjoyment of the game has really increased because of that. So maybe this is somewhat weird, but happy Father's Day to my greatest baseball influence -- my late grandmother, Louise D'Amico.

Note: this posting is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.

Mets.com: Cliff goes on the DL
Marty Noble and Chris Girandola report that the Mets finally made the move to put Cliff Floyd on the DL after playing short-handed for 10 days.

Newark Star-Ledger: Big League Dad
Dan Graziano has a nice story on Brian Bannister's experience of growing up with his father Floyd pitching in the major leagues.

New York Times: The Sign Man
For those of us that go back far enough with the Mets, Vincent M. Mallozzi offers up a profile of Karl Ehrhardt, the man with all of those signs during the first two decades of the franchise's existence.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Comments (9)

Great piece Mike! I can relate, my grandparents taught me about the Mets (my father was a Yankee fan, but his influence never took)
My grandmother was hilarious, yelling at the TV during those awful late 70s seasons, I got a kick out of her and my grandfather and I fell in love with Mets because of them.
Really nice memories you have there-thats why Mets fans are special, we all have a story like that as to why we root for them.
Lets hope they can salvage on today....

I could use my grandmother's optimism today, Shari, watching them let another kid pitcher dominate them.

I also can relate somewhat. My father was always working it seemed, never had time for baseball. But my uncle Ed was a Brooklyn Dodger fan and got me to be a Dodger fan. When they left for L.A. I was crushed and couldn't root for them anymore. My uncle died and so did my baseball, untill the Mets were born and they filled the void for me. I heard a story about Throneberry in those eary days. Throneberry hits a triple, they make an appeal play at 2nd, and he is called out for missing the bag. Casey is coming out to argue the call, and his 1st base coach says; don't argue to much he missed 1st base also. I love our Mets and it seems, When we are good, we are very very good. But when we are bad, we are horrid.

I remember Ralph Kiner liked to tell that story about Throneberry back when.

Marrero just made the catch to rob Mora and keep it 5-4. They're killing me today, Rev. Tack on some runs!!!!!!

Great post Mike! I really enjoy reading your blog!

Interestingly, growing up, very early on - before I really could appreciate the game - I was a Yankees fan. Even had a mitt with Willie Randolph’s in-printed autograph on it and the t-shirt from sending in wrappers from the Reggie bar. But, my dad was a Mets fan and, as I got to understand the game (and saw more games because that was what he watched), I came to realize that the Mets, despite their poor performance at times, are a team of character that can be appreciated (more the sum of its parts than an endeavor celebrating individual success). I think part of the appeal of being a Mets fan is that, when they win, it seems to mean so much more than when teams like the Yankees do (I don't understand how you can root for a team that is like a token wife - not real, just there for the money... not to be nasty). On some level, Shea, one of the biggest dumps in baseball has character - and, in an odd way, when it is gone, I think we will all miss it on some level. I think part of its appeal are memories of the 69 and 86 Mets teams and what they did there - but also that the great Mets teams never really won because they had superstars from position-to-position. More, that they played great as a team - with every component complimenting the other. Even with a relatively high payroll, I think this year's team has the same makeup. Lo Duca helps Reyes score runs, Delgado helps Beltran get on base, etc. In terms of your grandmother, I remember leaving a Mets game a few years back against the Braves when they were getting killed and being on the 7 train on my way back to NYC when they won. After that, I promised myself I would not leave another game before it ended because this team has shown on so many occasions - however few and far between - that it has the character to do what seems to be impossible. Sometimes, maybe we need someone else or something else to help us appreciate that. Cheers to your grandmother!

Thanks, GH, for the kind words and for leaving the Dark Side to come over to the Mets.

"You know it's funny, but I always think of her now after they win a game in an exceptional way. I still enjoy baseball intellectually, and always will. At some point I think I finally learned to enjoy it more at the level that my grandmother did, and my enjoyment of the game has really increased because of that. So maybe this is somewhat weird, but happy Father's Day to my greatest baseball influence -- my late grandmother, Louise D'Amico."


This wrapped up your piece nicely Mike. Thoroughly enjoyed this post and how your late grandmother took the season game to game and always stayed positive even though the team may suggest the opposite.

Excellent piece!

Thanks, Rob, appreciate it.

OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW YORK METS

Just to start I live near Jackson, Ms and have been a Mets fan for yours since when I was growing up we used to have a Mets farm team here known as the Jackson Mets. I have seen Strawberry, Howard Johnson and many others there while I was growing up. Well now I have a seven year old softball playing, Mets loving beautiful little girl. This season I took my daughter to her first Mets game we drove almost eight hours to see them play in Houston Tx against the Astros, we arrived several hours early just for the chance to get her ball signed by maybe a couple of Mets players, when we arrived by their bullpen there were several players around and maybe ten fans trying to get autographs so I knew she would be happy to get just one or two but we waited and tried to get their attention just to name a few Mota,Reyes,Castro,Franco and her favorite David Wright she screamed for them and so did I but to no avail they acted as if they were deaf. It did not bother me much because I imagine they get tired of signing autographs all the time, but to my daughter she was crushed because they were no more than ten feet from us. I just wanted to let the Mets know not everybody is out seeking their autograph to put things for sell on the internet but that there are sever year old girls and boys out there who really look up to them and truly love the game of baseball. Just something for them to maybe think about next time.

Best wishes

father of a true Mets fan

About Mike's Mets

Please support Mike's Mets:

Disclaimer: Mike's Mets is an independent, unofficial fan site, and is not affiliated in any way with the New York Mets or Major League Baseball.

Other Links

General Baseball Links
Internet Radio Shows
Video Blogs
Other Team Links
Other Sports Links
Non-Sports Links
Video Direct

Looking for great deals on MLB Baseball Tickets? Visit JustgreatTickets.com for Cubs Tickets, NY Mets Tickets and a huge selection of Red Sox Tickets, Yankees Tickets and plenty of great concert Tickets for Dave Matthews Band Tickets and Buffett Tickets

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 4.1