On Father’s Day, I want to thank my dad for making me a New York Mets fan.
When I was nine, my dad knew that my extracurricular interests lay with dance and theater, not with playing sports. But it was 2006, the year of “The Team, the Time,” and the New York Mets were everywhere. Wondering what all the fuss was about, I began watching Mets games with him. What better time for him to teach his daughter how to throw and catch a baseball?
For every Mets fact I know, for every Amazin’ memory that I’ve acquired, my dad has about ten times that amount. He grew up in Flushing, right in Shea Stadium’s backyard. His Mets fandom came from his mom, who was a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan before the team moved to California. When the Mets brought National League baseball back to New York, she had a new team to watch every day, and she passed her love for baseball on to him.
Now, as a fourth-grader, I had started paying attention to baseball and following the Mets. My dad took my interest in stride. We watched all the games together, and he listened patiently while I chattered incessantly and did my best play-by-play impression of Gary Cohen. He answered all of my in-game questions about why teams played the shift, what the infield fly rule meant, and why a certain error was due to bad fundamentals.
“This is my old baseball glove I used when I was a kid. Now, I want you to have it.” – my dad
He also began playing catch regularly, for hours at a time, with me and my sisters in our backyard. Though none of us showed the promise of becoming star ballplayers, these were treasured childhood memories for me. I loved those weekend afternoons of tossing the ball around, often while listening to a Mets game on the radio, and perfecting the art of taking grounders, just because. It was the perfect baseball bubble.
That year, in 2006, my parents bought me my first “Mr. Met Kids Club” membership. It gave us two free ticket vouchers to use the following year. This started a wonderful tradition of my dad and I attending at least one weeknight game at Shea Stadium, and later at Citi Field, every season.
To date, we’ve been to dozens of games over the years. Mike Piazza’s last game at Shea Stadium, the 2009 home opener at Citi Field, Piazza’s induction into the Mets Hall of Fame, and Jacob deGrom garden gnome day in 2015 were a few notable ones.
Whenever we head to the ballpark, we settle into our usual routine of arriving early, getting food from Nathan’s, remarking at the planes flying overhead, and grumbling aloud at questionable pitching changes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My dad and I have also watched many memorable Mets games on TV together. We were there for every R.A. Dickey start in his magical 2012 season when he consistently baffled opposing hitters en route to the Cy Young. We sat perplexed in our dining room chairs, watching the Mets play the Padres as the Wilmer Flores no-trade nonsense went down in July 2015. We watched the entire 2019 Home Run Derby, anxiously awaiting each Pete Alonso appearance and high-fiving when he won the whole thing.
When I went away to college in the fall of 2015 and the Mets made their magical run to the playoffs, I was overjoyed. That postseason was also a little poignant because as I sat watching the tense September and October games in my dorm room, I knew my dad was hundreds of miles away, watching the games with my mom and wishing mightily for Mets success along with me. I had always imagined watching the Mets’ most victorious moments in his company, but that year, I had to adjust to a postseason of watching baseball on my own.
As soon as the Mets clinched the division title on September 26, 2015, I immediately FaceTimed my family with tears of joy in my eyes. My dad answered the phone, and I could tell his voice was wavering a bit with happy tears. Neither of us was used to celebrating Mets’ success together, frankly. Yet here we were, both emotional because our favorite baseball team was going back to the playoffs.
That division clincher was also especially meaningful because it was the first Mets playoff berth since 2006, my first year of watching baseball with my dad. After years of playing catch in the backyard, attending games together, and watching the Mets night after night, we were finally going to share another Mets postseason adventure.
Obviously, the 2015 postseason did not end with the Mets winning it all, but sharing those emotional moments with my dad reminded me what being a Mets fan, at its core, means to me. The beauty of baseball is in its slow pace. It allows for conversation that enhances the game experience rather than detracts from it. This pace leaves plenty of time during each game for a knowledgeable dad to enlighten his curious daughter with years of Mets trivia, factoids, and personal anecdotes.
Baseball is also inherently a game of failure, which makes it essential to truly appreciate all aspects of the game. After every Mets game we go to, even if they lose, my dad repeats some version of the line, “No matter what happens, a day at the ballpark is always a great day.” Thanks to him, I really do believe that.
When I returned home for fall break in 2015, the Mets had already clinched the division and were preparing to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. I looked forward to watching that final weekend of regular season baseball with my dad and reconnecting with my baseball roots.
Sometime while I was home, he asked me, “Would you like to play catch?” Apparently, according to my mom, he had spent some time in the garage that past week, giving my glove some much-needed TLC. It had been months since we had played catch together. As soon as we were back out there in the yard, I felt like I was nine again.
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That weekend, anticipating the Mets’ upcoming postseason berth and playing catch together just like old times, I was as happy as I’d ever been in my Mets fandom. Everything that led to that moment was because of my dad. No matter how the Mets do in the future, I’ll always think of them fondly knowing that they brought my dad and I closer together, giving us a lifetime of wonderful baseball memories.