Baseball may be “just a game” but for me the New York Mets were an important part of keeping me alive.
So you may have clicked on this article thinking it was clickbait or with the thought that you were going to read an exciting story about how a New York Mets player saved my life. Honestly, if you decide to finish it, you may have the same perception.
Although I am now the definition of a die-hard fan to the point that I get upset if the most obscure Spring Training games are not at least audio covered. I was not always this way. I had grown up going to a few games at Shea Stadium here and there and when I went to games at Citi Field in high school they were more of a social event than a sporting event for me. That all changed April 18th, 2018.
To give you a little context of my life then, I was a senior in high school, on the cusp of going to college. It should have been exciting. It should have been happy. Yet it was the complete opposite. In September about six months earlier my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was seventeen, I had minimal friends, money, no car and close to no hope.
I have struggled with my mental health most of my life. It does not matter what I have been diagnosed with or what I am currently diagnosed with because I know more than most, that can very well change one day. But at that point in my life, I was struggling to get by.
Getting out of bed in the morning some days felt like one of the biggest tasks that I had to tackle. There had come a point where living every day seemed exhausting. To put it bluntly. I was suicidal.
On April 18th it was a few days after the anniversary of my dad passing away which was one the hardest times of the year for me. I had gotten tickets for the 7:10 game on that Wednesday night. My mom tried to convince me not to go but I was tired of just staying home and being sad, and to this day I am so lucky I did.
So I bundled up and took the LIRR to Mets Willet’s Point. I sat alone in section 122, all the way at the top. It was freezing. I still think living in New York all my life that spring on the island is worse than winter. It is a different kind of cold trust me.
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It was a pretty low scoring game at first. At the bottom of the eighth, the score was 4-2 with the Mets trailing the Nationals by two runs. Eventually, Todd Frazier singled leading Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to score. The score was tied. Yet it was enough to get the momentum going. The runs started racking up with Frazier and Cabrera scoring soon after.
While the game was picking up, it wasn’t over yet. Eventually with the Mets up by three. Cespedes stepped up to the plate.
At this point, I knew close to nothing about baseball, but I was on the edge of my seat waiting for every ball and strike to be called.
Cespedes ended up hitting a 383 foot three-run home run. We ended up with extra nine runs at the bottom of the 8th winning the game.
Winning the game that seemed rather hopeless instilled a newfound hope in myself. The energy of Citi Field was something I had never felt before. I, someone who had never had a real interest in sports, found myself cheering with every run.
I know you’re probably thinking “what does this have to do with them saving your life?” After this game, I went to game, after game. I was at one of the lowest points of my life to the point that I did not want to continue living it. I then had something to look forward to. I had something to root for, I had a sense of comradery with other fans.
No matter the awful day I was having I knew that if I went to a game, I had a place where I had at least one thing in common with thousands of other people. I found a home at Citi Field that day. Since 2018 I have gone to at least 60 or 70 games and have tickets to 25 games already this season.
I could throw a bunch of statistics at you that show the effect of being a sports fan has on mental health. But I don’t think I need to include it, because I have a feeling if you’re reading this right now you have felt something similar. Even if it was not to some extent. I bet that there was at least one day that you were having a really tough day, went home, put on a game and felt at peace.
I am now a nursing student, an Emergency Medical Technician, as well as the founder of an organization that connects college students with mental health resources and education on their campus. I truly believe that I would not have been able to achieve that without the Mets. I now live by the notion of making something good out of my sadness no matter what it is.
I am still relentlessly made fun of by my friends who are Yankee fans about how awful the Mets are or how I chose the wrong team. While we do have our ups and downs I would not have it any other way. The days we do poorly are sad obviously but the days we do well make up for it. At the end of the summer in the 2019 season during our 15-2 run the energy in flushing was something that I couldn’t even describe.
I still struggle with my mental health. That is something that doesn’t just go away as most chronic issues don’t. But still even now one of the main ways I cope with my worst days is baseball. Even during the offseason I watch reruns of my favorite games and get excited about the next season.
Lastly, just for a very important side note. Check-in on your friends and loved ones even if they aren’t the most verbal about their mental health. A simple “are you okay?” can go a long way.
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Below is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline which is a 24/7 service where you can talk to a counselor when in crisis: 1-800-273-8255