Every New York Mets fan deserves to have one piece of baseball memorabilia they consider their favorite. I snagged mine on one of the best days of my life.
Take a look around my home and you will find a wide variety of New York Mets memorabilia that I’ve collected over the years. Despite living on the opposite coast, I’ve been fortunate to see the Mets play in a handful of stadiums and I’ve made a point to try to bring back a souvenir I can add to my stash that keeps the memories fresh.
A commemorative baseball from Opening Day 2009 in Cincinnati. A Matt Harvey OYO Sports 2015 World Series figurine I got at Game 4. My first foul ball – also 2015 – that was more so a snag based on quick reflexes and long arms than a true “catch” in Arizona.
But there is one baseball that I have in my collection that means more than the rest and is one that I plan on handing down to the next generation.
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June 2, 2010, was not especially memorable for Mets fans. The team was heading into the rubber game of a three-game series in San Diego and was 3.5 games back at 27-26. For me, however, it was the first day of the rest of my life.
Under the guise of taking a day trip to San Diego to see my favorite team play, June 2 was the day I proposed to my wife. We spent the morning walking along the beach in Coronado, where I proposed, before heading to the stadium to see the Mets take on the Padres.
Since it was a Wednesday afternoon, great seats were not difficult to come by and we ended up sitting a couple of rows behind the Mets dugout for relatively cheap. With so few fans in attendance, we could practically hear the players chatting in the dugout during the game.
Johan Santana started on the mound and the infield consisted of Ike Davis, Alex Cora, Jose Reyes, and David Wright. A few innings into the game, the Mets unknowingly gave us our first engagement gift.
After the infielders finished throwing around the ball to get ready for the inning, Wright tossed it toward the third base dugout and then-third base coach Chip Hale. Hale, seeing us a few rows up in our Mr. Met shirts and hats, underhanded it into the crowd and I plucked it out of the air.
The ball now sits encased on our bookshelf nine years later.
I don’t remember much about the game itself. I know Jeff Francoeur hit an RBI single off Clayton Richard that scored Jason Bay (!) before the Padres tied the game in the bottom of the 9th against Francisco Rodriguez when David Eckstein singled home Tony Gwynn Jr.
The one play that my wife remembers vividly though is Adrian Gonzalez ending the game with a walk-off grand slam for the Padres on a 1-1 pitch from Raul Valdes to win it 5-1 in 11 innings. He made it up for us when we went to a game in San Diego in 2018, leading the Mets with five RBIs in a 14-2 win.
I am glad that I blocked out the memory of how the Mets lost that game in 2010. That means the baseball is doing its job.
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An infield practice ball may sound simple and insignificant, but the one we got that day in San Diego will never stop bringing back vivid memories of one of the best days of my life.