There are certain moments that seem like timestamps on history, anthropological markers that serve as a snapshot of the times. The assassination of JFK. The first man on the moon. O.J. Simpson in a white Bronco. When discussing these indelible moments, the first question asked is always, "Where were you when it happened?" Though not as important to American history as the above events, the New York Mets have had a few "where were you" moments that live on in the minds of fans.
As someone who turned 40 a few days ago, I've missed out on many of these moments. Tommy Agee and the Miracle Mets are just pages in a history book to me. I was still in diapers when Doc Gooden burst onto the scene in 1984. Mookie Wilson was one of my favorite players as a kid, but I was only three when he rolled the ball through Bill Buckner's legs.
With very few exceptions, I watch every Mets game, so I've caught pretty much everything that's happened from the 90's on. Al Leiter's one-hitter. Mike Piazza's game-winning home run in the first game back after 9/11. Endy Chavez's catch. There's one enormous moment, though, that still haunts me to this day.
I completely missed Johan Santana throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history.
Let's hop in our time machine and go back 11 years. My wedding was less than two months away, and with that in mind, I drove to Atlantic City for my bachelor party. Bachelor parties are one of the most reliable producers of regret, but we weren't getting into any trouble. Just a really nice dinner and a little gambling with some of my closest friends. This was never going to turn into The Hangover. What could go wrong?
My wife-to-be and my mom opted to attend the Mets game while the boys were away, and it wasn't until later that night that I got the text. Johan Santana had pitched a no-hitter, the first in Mets history. For years, I always remembered that the Mets and the Padres were the only two teams without a no-hitter. Finally, we were off the schneid. But if a tree falls in a forest and I'm not there to hear it, did it really happen?
I had a great time with great friends in Atlantic City, but all I could think about was that I missed one of the most important things to ever happen to the Mets. Instead of being happy for my fiancee and mom, I was bummed that I had missed it. Forget being in the building, I didn't get to see it on TV or even hear it on the radio. For someone that sees almost every Mets game, what were the odds?
I loved Santana, so the fact that he was the one to do it hurt even more, especially since it was the last great moment of his career. When the Mets got him from the Twins, I jumped for joy. He was the consummate professional and a truly elite pitcher. I don't think anybody since has had a better changeup. He was a battler, both on the mound and in coming back from a shoulder injury that took away his entire 2011 season. His jersey still hangs in my closet, and I'll be wearing it today to celebrate, even if there will be a tinge of sadness.
I'd be lying if I said that I've ever fully gotten over missing this game. I did see the combined no-no from a little over a year ago, and that was great, but it could never take the place of that magical night in 2012. They say you never forget your first, but you really don't forget it if you missed experiencing it in the first place. Sounds crazy, but it's true.
Hopefully every Mets fan reading this has a better memory of this amazing night than I do. So tell me, where were you when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history?