The date was Sunday, September 4, right smack in the middle of Labor Day weekend 1988. My wife Nancy and I had tickets to see the New York Mets play the Los Angeles Dodgers. The weather forecast called for rain, but since we had already hired a babysitter for our children, aged four and seven, we decided to give it a go. The rain began to fall right about the time we were crossing the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey.
“The weather isn't looking so good. Do you think we should turn around?” Nancy asked.
“Not yet,” I answered. “We’re almost there. Besides, we already have a babysitter for the day. Let’s try to give it our best shot.”
We got to the parking lot and ran in between the raindrops all the way to the stadium. I remember the ticket taker smiling knowingly at me as if to say, “If you came out here in this weather, you must have a babysitter.” I just smiled back.
Our seats were in the mezzanine and out in the pouring rain. I asked an usher if we could move up to the dry seats in the last few rows. He just shrugged his shoulders. As we were climbing up the steps, I swear I could hear him say, “If you came out here in this weather, you must have a babysitter.” I turned around, but the usher was already gone.
We sat there for about an hour, watching the rain pummel the tarp on the infield as the outfield water began to collect and form into little puddles. It was then that I noticed a bus backing up through the players parking lot next to the Mets’ bullpen. The team was hitting the road after today’s game, so I assumed that this activity meant the game was about to be called on account of the rain.
The search for the New York Mets Hall of Fame
I decided that there was still time to try to make something of the day, so I said, “Since we have time to kill, why don’t we try to find the new Mets Hall of Fame? I believe it's somewhere on the first base side of the press level. That's not far from here.” By now, we were both tired of the blowing rain and the water cascading down the stadium steps, so we got up and headed out.
“Maybe we should just go home,” Nancy said, her wet shoes squeaking as she walked.
The voice in the back of my mind immediately began screaming at me not to quit. “We planned this day for weeks and these things don't come around very often,” I said. In an attempt to be humorous, I then said in my best Bill Murray imitation, “I don't think the hard stuff’s coming down for a while. Remember that line from the movie Caddyshack?" I could almost hear Nancy roll her eyes at me.
We found our way to the press level and made a left turn, a right turn and then another left until I finally found the spot that I always seem to find in situations like this: Lost!
“Are you sure you know where we're going?” Nancy asked. “Why don’t we find someone and ask for directions?”
Mets broadcasting legend Bob Murphy with a happy recap
I wouldn’t even qualify that question with an answer. Real men don’t ask for directions. Besides, I was pretty sure that we had already passed into a restricted area. We forged ahead with a few more turns, hoping to find our way out before being arrested for trespassing. At this point, I saw someone coming from the other direction down the narrow corridor. Luckily, it wasn’t a policeman. It was none other than long time New York Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy! He quickly gave us a smile and a nod, acknowledging us as fans but also indicating that he had somewhere to go.
“Do you think we are going to play baseball today, Bob?” Nancy asked as Murphy passed us in the close quarters of the hallway.
“Well, little lady, it’s raining awfully hard out there,” Bob Murphy said. “There’s an awful lot of water on the field. I’d have to say that it doesn’t look too good for today.”
Murphy disappeared behind a door. Suddenly, a security guard was heading our way waving his hands to get our attention. My go-to reaction in troubled situations like this was to play stupid. Somehow, it’s always been quite believable. This time I merely told the truth. We were looking for the new Mets Hall of Fame and got lost in the catacombs of the Shea Stadium press level. The guard told us that the game has been rained out, the Hall of Fame was closed, and sent us on our way towards the exit.
“I wish that I had more of a chance to speak with Bob Murphy,” I said as we headed outside in the rain.
“Why? Were you planning on asking him for a happy recap of his visit to the press box men’s room?” Nancy said, “because that’s where he was headed.” I hate it when my wife has better jokes than me.
We exchanged our rainchecks for the game of September 22 and came back to see the Mets clinch the 1988 National League Eastern Division Pennant. It was an exciting night, one that I’ll never soon forget. It’s definitely my second favorite New York Mets Shea Stadium experience of all time.
What’s my number one favorite New York Mets Shea Stadium experience of all time?
Meeting New York Mets broadcasting legend Bob Murphy!