Monday, April 5, 2010

A Fan’s Fond Memory

With the Mets home opener today it takes me back to another home opener…April 9, 1985: Mets against Cardinals: Dwight Gooden against Joaquin Andujar. And, Gary Carter’s first game as the Mets catcher.

I had attended many Mets games prior to this cold April day in 1985, but this was my first OPENING DAY. The Mets made strides in 1984 before falling to the Cubs in the National League East Division. But, in December 1984, the Mets traded Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans to Montreal for Gary Carter…the missing piece?

I remember hammering the phone line…you know – 718-507-TIXX – for hours to get through. Finally I did, and was able to secure five tickets for the game. This was before the internet and being able to purchase tickets on line. I was shocked that I got the tickets, but was thrilled.

April 9th arrived, and my friends Henry, Shawn, and our girlfriends hopped on the train from Huntington to Woodside. We then got on the 7 train and took it to Shea.

When we arrived, it was a clear but very chilly day. I remember walking up the ramp from Field level, to Loge level, to the Mezzanine level and finally to the Upper deck. It was not the place you wanted to be on a frigid Spring afternoon, but we were there…so far in the upper deck, that we were practically in fair territory down the RF line.

I remember having this feeling of a sense of history. Was this going to be the year we finally would win it all? The Mets always did well on Opening Day, and this day was no different.

I remember the standing ovation our guys got during the introduction of the 1985 NY Mets. The loudest roar, other than Mookie, was for Gary Carter, and Carter didn’t disappoint.

Carter’s first at bat. This was going to be historic…and it was. Gary was plunked by Joaquin Andujar. His first Met at bat was a bean ball. I started laughing on how anti-climactic it was. In fact, Carter would be beaned again later in the game by reliever Bill Campbell.

Gooden didn’t pitch as well as we would have like, throwing for 6 innings giving up 4 runs and striking out 6. It wasn’t the pre-cursor for things to come. Gooden went on to go 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and win the NL Cy Young award.

The game had some special moments, culminating with Gary Carter’s game ending HR in the bottom of the 10th. Mets 6 Cards 5.

We know the Cardinals went on to not only win the NL East, but also was a participant in the 1985 World Series, losing to the Royals.

The Mets would reach the Promised Land the following year in 1986, but it was the start of the 1985 season, that Opening Day that set the tone.

Every year on Opening Day I can’t help but think back to that one day back on a frigid April afternoon. Not only was it the first Opening Day I attended, but it has been the only one. I look to change that in the coming years, but for now, this day sticks out.

Today the Mets will send out their Ace, Johan Santana. Another big bat they acquired during the off season, Jason Bay, will make his Mets debut. Is this team is good as the ’85 team that went on to win 98 games. No one in their right mind believes the Mets will win 98 games this year, but who’s to say? Maybe this year, starting with this date, April 5, 2010 will be another Fan’s Fond Memory.

Sources: Baseball Almanac, Baseball Reference

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