Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First Mets Game

After 4 years of brain washing my daughter and 18 months of doing the exact same to my son, I finally took my kids to see their first Mets game this past Sunday. For baseball-junkie dads, this is one of those milestone moments that you look forward to and for me, the day did not disappoint. It was truly special. Here’s how it unfolded.

You have to understand, for those of you who do not have kids, there is a lot of preparation involved in taking them anywhere, let alone going to a ball game. This adds a whole new level of stress to your planning. Diapers? Check. Wipes? Check. Extra set of clothes (vomiting may occur)? Check. Goldfish (crackers)? Check. What about the stroller? You definitely don’t want to lug your kids all over especially when your back is already shot from lifting them up. Does Citi Field allow strollers? Not sure. Unable to find a “general information” number at Citi Field, I call the ticket line and got someone to tell me that ‘yes’ I can bring a stroller. How ‘bout a double-wide? Remember, my son is 18 months old, and while my daughter is certainly very capable of walking at 4 years of age, I know her well enough to know that at some point she’ll ask my wife or I to carry her so we definitely need the double-wide. ‘Yes, you can bring the double-wide.’ Perfect! Stress level reduced somewhat.

So we head to Citi Field from NJ, as a very clutch (I’m talking Keith Hernandez clutch!) DVD, Baby Einstein, occupies my son so he doesn’t get car sick. We found that one out on our trip to Flushing for Opening Day when we were dropping the kids off at Grammie’s Puked all over himself and the car seat. Awesome! Anyway, we begin to see the new park on the horizon as we make our way on the Grand Central and my daughter starts to get excited. She tells us she’s going to see David Wright (her favorite), Mr. Met, Jerry, Jose and Carlos and Carlos. (Remember, 4 years of brain-washing, she knows them all). I disappoint her when I tell her Jose and the Carloses are still hurt. She asks why they’re hurt and I tell her not even the team doctors know why. She didn’t understand why the doctors didn’t know why.

We arrive at Citi Field, drop $18 bucks for parking, pick up the kids’ first program, (photo op) and we stroll on over to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda entrance. Here, the stress level starts to increase because I’m thinking that we have to get the kids out of the double-wide and fold it up so we can pass through the turnstiles. Not an easy task when you consider my wife and I are also carrying backpacks containing the key ingredients; diapers, wipes, food, clothes. I wheeled the kids as close as I could and a security person came over and opened the big gate for us to walk through so we didn’t have to wait on the line. We also did not have to walk through the turnstiles as someone else came immediately over and scanned our tickets. Fantastic! That was a huge relief. But now what? Walk up the stairs or take the escalator? Both options would require some “heavy lifting.” But, once again, Citi Field staff saved the day as a lady came over and asked us if we would like to take the elevator. Bam! Absolutely! So she guided us over and we were up on the field level in no time. You could not have scripted our entrance any better. Stress level greatly reduced, all due to the personnel at Citi Field.

Before the start of the game, we walk to the Fan Fest area beyond center field in hopes of catching a glimpse of Mr. Met. Sure enough, there he is posing for pictures. My daughter is very excited as she wants to give him a hug. My son has no idea what’s going on but the look on his face says he’s having a blast. Unfortunately, the line is too long and Mr. Met has to head to the field for the start of the game. No worries, as we head over to the apple, which my daughter loves. (All kids do by the way). It is fantastic to see the legendary apple up close. The same apple that popped up on Todd Pratt’s series ending bomb in ’99, Dykstra’s walk off in Game 3 ’86 NLCS and of course Piazza’s memorable moon shot against the Braves after 9/11.

While we were near the apple, my son decided to walk over by the bullpen and stood up on the table to get a look inside. No doubt he was heckling the Reds (see pic above). ‘Atta boy. (Remember, 18 months of brain washing).

After, we headed to our seats which were perfectly located. Field level, down the right field line, 29th row, two rows from the concourse. With kids, you know you’re going to have to get up and down a lot throughout the game; bathroom, food, diaper change, so the fact that we were right there made our lives so much easier. Plus, a supervisor allowed us to park our double-wide in the handicap section. The game started and sure enough, David Wright smacks an RBI double to deep center, appropriately giving my kids their first RBI and extra base hit in person. Throughout the game, my kids were great. My son couldn’t stop smiling and clapping. He had a great time, even shaking people’s hands introducing himself. He knew he was in good company so he was fitting right in. My daughter got all kinds of food; hot dog, pretzel, ice cream, but finished none of them which was perfectly fine with her brother as he gladly took the leftovers. We had to leave in the 6th inning because we had to go to a birthday party.

Unfortunately, we missed “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” which my kids love, and we never did reconnect with Mr. Met. And of course, in typical Mets fashion, they hit back-to-back home runs in the 7th (after going like a hundred games without one) so my daughter never did get to see the new apple pop up as she was hoping for but no matter, we still had an extraordinary day.

Truth be told, this was one of the more memorable days in my life. To experience that first game with my kids, was truly priceless and I will remember it always. And while our beloved NY Mets break our hearts year after year, I know I made the right decision in raising my kids as Met Lifers. The looks on their faces reminded me of the excitement I felt when I first started going to Met games more than 30 years ago. After all the Yadier Molina’s, Mike Scocia’s, John Franco’s, Armando Benitez’s, and September choke jobs, I wouldn’t trade it for the world…or all those Yankee championships for that matter.

Now let’s get our guys back and make a run in the second half!

Special thanks goes to two key people (L&L) who scored us the free tickets. I cannot thank you enough. And special props goes to the staff at Citi Field. Citi Field has been criticized at times, and rightfully so, for its lack of Mets history on display, (not to mention those silly white tarps over the bullpen – can someone please remove those eyesores?), They were absolutely fantastic in making our day as easy and as enjoyable as possible.


J said...

That first game is great. Last September my wife and I took our 3 year old son to a game at Shea so he could say as an adult that he was there. It was the Johan game, #161.

My son and I went again to Citi Field earlier this year and we had a rockin good time. It's great to see them get infected with the fun of being at the park.

dave said...

Another milestone moment.

Great to hear that the folks at Citi Field are aware of the need to be kid friendly. Eases this parent's mind as he plans on taking two boys out to Queens this summer.

indavao said...

hi... just dropping by!