2008 – Shea Stadium (NY Mets): The Final Year
On May 1, 2017 - Uncategorized
Dad – born in Manhattan – liked the Yankees primarily and the hometown Giants (National League) secondarily. Mom – from Long Island – was a Brooklyn Dodger fan, so – naturally – I sided with my father 100%.
They took me to my first Major League game when I was 4 or 5. It was a Giants/Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds. The Giants led most of the way, but………….
I was in tears.
Both NL teams left town in 1957 and the Mets were born in 1962, playing at the Polo Grounds at first. I didn’t get to go to any Mets games there, so I made sure I was at Shea Stadium’s Opening Day when they moved there in 1964.
At the time, I attended a VERY strict high school – Bergen Catholic in Oradell, NJ – and was terrified about breaking the tiniest of rules, but this time, I didn’t care. I wanted to be at that game.
I don’t remember what the consequences were, but I’m still here, so they couldn’t have been that bad. It was worth it – even if the Pirates’ Willie Stargell DID hit Shea’s first ever home run during that game and the Mets lost, 4-3.
I had been to a few Mets games over the years, but I may have shot more concerts there (Stones, Clash, Who, etc.). But because I had been there at the beginning, I wanted to be there at…………..well, near the end of Shea Stadium, which closed at the end of the 2008 season.
Yankee Stadium was also closing that year and I had already done my top-deck, last-row-center fisheye shot of the whole stadium (or as much as I could get) and felt I needed to so the same at Shea, so I went one Saturday in September.
I had always driven to Shea, but I wanted to get the full New Yorker experience of taking the #7 subway train from Times Square in Manhattan out to Shea in Queens, so I took a bus into the 42nd St Port Authority building and walked over to the subway.
The train is not underground after you cross the East River into Queens and it took a lot longer than I expected. At one point, I saw what seemed like a block or two of solid, gorgeous graffiti over past the westbound tracks, but my camera was packed away. “That’s OK – I’ll get it on the way back”.
I made my way to the first car and positioned myself at its front window so I could document the view of pulling into Shea. You can see a little bit of the stadium’s lights in the first shot (actually, I think those are Citi Field lights) and a lot of old rust in the second one:
After exiting the train, I took a shot of a #7 westbound train that had stopped at Shea and as I walked away, I took a flip-phone shot of the exiting train showing the number 7:
I got inside Shea early so I could get that top-center shot when there were fewer people to climb over.
It was Military Appreciation Day, so I took the appropriate shot along the first base line (my seat was in the front row center of the upper deck).
From there, I took two shots of the scoreboard, both when a Met was at bat and between innings. You can see a bit of still-under-construction Citi Field in the upper left corners.
Shea had a short countdown ritual for each game toward the end of the season. You can see that there were 10 games left. By the way – this was the first game of a double-header.
I wasn’t that into the game and didn’t feel like being there all day. It was also getting cloudy, so while the light was still semi-decent, I went outside to get shots of both stadiums:
I took one final walk around Shea and shot all the neon murals (you can see part of one of them in the previous photo). You can tell by the gate letters that I’m not showing them consecutively. That’s because I rearranged them to show little two-panel baseball themes (hit-and-run, the battery, a slugger robbed by a great catch) and then stitched them all together.
As a 6-image photo stitch, this needs to be seen big. Click the image once. After it takes over the screen, hover the mouse over the image. You should get a + sign. Then click it again. It’s now full-size and must be scrolled to see everything. Click it once more to shrink it back and then use your back button to return to the post.
Time to get on the #7 (it was getting darker). I HAD to shoot that graffiti.
The train was packed, making it difficult to crouch down by a door’s window – a window that now had a ton of interior reflections because of the car’s interior lights.
What I wanted to shoot was on the side that faced away from me, meaning that I couldn’t start shooting anything until we had already blown by it. Between the slow shutter speed due to low light, the window reflections and the bumpy, swaying ride, it was a tough shoot.
The first shot was the closest and each successive shot became more distant. The place was called 5Pointz and I’m glad I got what I got because it did not exist after 2013.
The rest of the ride was uneventful and when I got to the Times Square station, I saw (and took a bad shot of) a mini-Michael Jackson doing……………..something.
A fitting end to the day. I pretty much got what I wanted, so I was happy.