By Dana Brand
On the eve of the historic Presidential Debate at my home institution, Hofstra University, I would like to announce officially that on November 3, 4, and 5, 2011, Hofstra University will host a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets. The conference will be organized and co-chaired by me (Professor Dana Brand of the English Department) and by my colleague Professor Richard Puerzer of the Engineering Department.
2011, in our judgment, can be considered the 50th anniversary year of the Mets because it was on March 6, 1961 that the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc. received its certificate of membership in the National League. On October 10, 1961, the first Mets team was drafted, and on October 28, 1961, ground was broken for the construction of Flushing Meadows Park, later Shea stadium. The team played its first official game on Aprill 11, 1962. Hofstra is the perfect place to have such a conference because it is a university in the heart of the Mets homeland and because William Shea, the man who brought National League baseball back to New York, was on our Board of Trustees.
The Hofstra Conference on "Fifty Years of the New York Mets" will be organized under the auspices of the Hofstra Cultural Center, which has sponsored over one hundred international conferences on a wide range of topics. Most of the conference topics have been scholarly, cultural, scientific, social, and political (including the well-known series on each presidential administration since that of Franklin Roosevelt) but the Cultural Center is also known for innovative conferences on topics that are not always represented in academia, even though they are definitely worthy of serious study. Hofstra's conference on "Baseball and the Sultan of Swat: Commemorating the 100th Birthday of Babe Ruth" in April, 1995 was a model of this, and Professor Puerzer and I hope to emulate the success of that conference by bringing together players, journalists, executives, fans, cultural figures, and scholars to commemorate and discuss the extraordinary history and phenomenon of the Mets.
Conference registration will be open to the public. A call for papers and presentations will be issued in the spring of 2009. There will also be associated art and memorabilia exhibits, as well as a film festival and perhaps even musical performances.
We hope that the conference will be a lot of fun for everyone, and we hope that it will contribute to an understanding of why so many people find baseball important. We will be particularly concerned with understanding why so many people find the Mets important in their lives. The Mets are an extremely popular franchise. Yet for a variety of reasons, they have never received the attention they deserve, in the press or in publishing. Because of their relative youth, and their secondary status with respect to the Yankees, they have also never paid as much attention to their own fascinating history and traditions as they might have. Now that the Mets are about to become fifty years old and are about to move into a new stadium, it's time for that to change. The Mets deserve some attention: loving, intelligent, appreciative, and critical. Let's give them some. If you have any ideas for what you would like to see at the conference, or if you would like to be involved in some way, please visit my blog at metsfanbook.com and leave a comment on the post announcing the conference, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.