The collage: unused World Series tickets in the back, my grandfather’s note in the front, a picture of my grandfather in the top right.
The playoff tickets from the Mets arrived in late September each year from 2006 to 2008. They came in strips. There were smaller tickets for the NLDS and NLCS, and enormous ones for the World Series. In 2006, all of the tickets were used except for what would’ve been Game 4 of the World Series at Shea. In 2007 and 2008, none of the tickets were used. After the Mets failed to make the playoffs both years, the tickets were placed in a drawer and kept as odd relics of games that might have been. That was until a year and a half ago.
Every so often, I would take the tickets out and think back to those seasons. How would Game 3 of the World Series have felt in 2007 and 2008 if the Mets had been in it? There were times when I contemplated getting rid of the strips that were for the postseasons the Mets failed to advance to, but I held onto them. In August of 2011, I decided to do something with them.
Instead of keeping the tickets hidden or discarding them, I made a collage. As I’ve discussed before, my grandfather was the person who made me the Mets fan I am, and helped shape the man I am. Through my loyalty to the Mets, I learned how to be fiercely loyal to friends and family as well. Through him, I was able to see that Mets fans were a different breed. It’s easy to root for a team that wins all the time, coasting to division title after division title. What isn’t easy, is being a fan of the Mets. What it does do is build character, strengthen resolve, and teach you to hang tough through adversity (baseball related or otherwise). Mets fandom certainly isn’t the easiest one to be blessed with, but it’s at times the most rewarding.
Back to the collage…
I put it together with the purpose of having it represent both the exhilarating and the exasperating. Making up its background are the unused tickets from three games that never happened: Game 4 of the 2006 World Series, Game 3 of the 2007 World Series, and Game 3 of the 2008 World Series. Contrasting the disappointment of those three phantom games and appearing at the forefront of the collage, are my grandfathers handwritten words that he excitedly wrote after Game 1 of the 1999 NLDS. He was unsure whether my father had stayed up to see the ending, so he jotted down the following and put a note on his door. It reads:
"Wow! Mets win in 9th on Alfonso’s grand slam, his second homer of game. The score was tied 4-4 at the time. Final score 8-4. Wendel the winner. Benites got the final 3 outs in the 9th."
My grandfather was 86 years old at the time and misspelled all three of the names: Edgardo Alfonzo, Turk Wendell, and Armando Benitez. That’s no matter. What’s important, is being able to read that note and re-live the joy my grandfather and so many other Mets fans were feeling at that moment. It was the Mets’ first postseason game in 11 years, and it had been worth the wait. I plucked that note from the door and kept it. After my grandfather passed away in 2008, the note became that much more special to me.
My grandfather during WWII in 1944, playing ball while stationed in Hawaii.
In the top right hand corner of the collage is a picture of my grandfather playing ball. It’s from 1944, when he was stationed in Hawaii during World War II. One of his barracks mates was Joe DiMaggio, but that of course didn’t affect his then allegiance to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
If a fan of the Yankees saw my collage, I suppose they’d think to themselves that it was somehow pathetic. A Mets fan framing and hanging unused tickets to games that never were. No disrespect meant to the shred of Yankees fans left who aren’t pompous and entitled, but that’s why the majority of Mets fans can’t stand the majority of Yankees fans. Their rooting interest is akin to rooting for U.S. Steel or Microsoft. Aside from that, when I run into one while wearing a Mets cap or shirt, their unsolicited statement is usually something to the tune of “Why are you a Mets fan?” It’s sickening.
I’ll tell you why I’m a Mets fan. I’m a Mets fan because I was born into it. It’s in my family’s blood to root for the National League team from New York. I’m a Mets fan because it’s hard. I’m a Mets fan because I can’t fathom rooting for any other team. So far, there have been many more downs than ups, but that’s what will make it that much more special when the Mets finally claim their next World Series title. I’m a Mets fan because I can look forward to how happy and fulfilled I’ll feel when that day comes.
For now, I’ll keep rooting while glancing every now and then at a collage that contains tickets to games that were never played, a note I’ll always cherish, and a small picture of the man that passed his loyalty down to me. It’ll serve as a reminder of the fact that all true Mets fans are able to persevere through the tough times while awaiting that next magical moment.