Meeting Citi Field for the First Time
By Melissa Minners
Until a couple of months ago, I had never actually been in any ballpark to see a Subway Series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. When the opportunity arose, I was glad to partake, even if it meant doing so at Yankee Stadium. After all, not only would I be front and center for a Subway Series game, but it would also be the first time I had set foot in the new Yankee Stadium. And when my sister offered to take my brother and I to my first game ever at Citi Field? Hey, how could I resist the urge to see my favorite team’s new stadium?
When August 8, 2012 came around, I was antsy. I couldn’t wait to get out of work so I could travel to Flushing, Queens, check out the new stadium and watch the New York Mets play against the Florida Marlins…oh, that’s right, they’re the Miami Marlins now - really, what’s the difference? Anyway, I was so excited that I rushed out of work and ended up getting there in only a half hour, a full hour before my sister or brother were expected to be at the stadium. Oh well, what else was there to do but walk around?
So, I paid the $20.00 it would cost to park my car (not realizing that I was parking in left field and my seat was in right field) and headed towards this beautiful stadium. Gone was the arena stadium of Shea. The exterior of Citi Field was modeled after the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ebbets Field, which makes sense since a majority of the original New York Mets fans were Brooklyn Dodgers fans before they moved to Los Angeles. The architecture is awe-inspiring and I couldn’t get enough of looking at it.
I walked the entire stadium exterior twice just to get the full experience. I loved the fact that the New York Mets Homerun Apple that graced the outfield in Shea Stadium had a special place between the new stadium and the 7 Train stairs, appropriately called Mets Plaza. Apparently so did everyone else visiting the stadium. I was lucky to arrive early and thus, get a picture before all of the fans started climbing the Apple’s pedestal for a souvenir photo.
After the first walk around the exterior of Citi Field and gaping in amazement at the architecture of the building itself, I actually started to realize that there was a lot more to this stadium - the sidewalk around it was special in of itself. Called the Citi Field Fanwalk, every couple of feet or so features an etched picture celebrating a moment in New York Mets history, like Tom Seaver’s almost perfect game in 1969, the 1969 World Series win, the 1986 World Series win, the spectacular Endy Chavez catch of Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series and more. Surrounding these pictures are bricks engraved with messages by the fans. Ranging in size from 4” x 8” to 8” x 8” and in price from $195.00 to $395.00 the brick can be etched with up six lines of message, fifteen characters per line. Proceeds from the fan’s brick purchase go to the Mets Foundation. The messages ranged from things like Number 1 Mets Fan to Lets Go Mets and more. I found the Fanwalk to be a rather cool addition to the stadium, allowing the fans to interact with their favorite team and other fans visiting the stadium in a rather unique way.
Once I had circled the stadium enough times, I found a seat in Mets Plaza and waited for my siblings. I met some rather interesting individuals there, such as the Mets puppy, decked out with Mets gear and calmly sitting for pictures while his master stood by. A very lovey sort of pooch, the dog leaned in against my hand when I decided he needed more than a couple dollars donation for a picture. Then there was the elderly individual with whom I chatted about the weather and the upcoming game. While enjoying the company, I was quick to note the undercovers working the crowd to ensure that ticket scalpers would not have an easy time of getting rid of tickets.
Since my brother had already been at Citi Field numerous times, once Justine arrived, we decided to venture in and check out the sights. The first place we headed - the Hall of Fame and Museum. I had been to Yankee Stadium’s museum, but I liked Citi Field’s that much more. Perhaps it was because the Hall of Fame and Museum featured favorite players from my favorite team, but I felt that the museum in Citi Field was much better lit and more picture friendly. I loved the display cases filled with original gear from my favorite players, pictures from memorable moments in the organization, the Hall of Fame plaques and more.
From there, we headed into the Mets Store, where I got a pair 50th Anniversary New York Mets License Plate Frames I had been coveting all year, a set of the 2012 team cards and a wooden doorknob plaque (the new kitty doesn’t seem to like pennants, digging her nails into them no matter what team they represent). We exited the store and entered the Jackie Robinson Rotunda featuring a giant blue number “42” smack dab in the center.
I showed an usher our tickets and he directed us to head up the escalator and then take a flight of steps on the right. I thought that sounded too easy and, boy, was I ever right! One escalator and about eight flights later (would have waited on line for the elevator if I had known I would have to take my aching knees up all them stairs), we found our seats. Wow, what a view - I could see everything, including the ball sailing over home plate. The field was just beautiful and I must have said the word “wow” a dozen times before realizing that the game was about to start and my stomach was grumbling.
Although there were plenty of food choices if you were willing to walk, my aching knees (yeah, athletic and work injuries were conspiring against me on this day) would not permit it. So, we stopped at Nathan's and picked up cheeseburger and fries combos. For the price, I was surprised at how much food we got - the burgers were a decent size and the fries seemed to be never ending. My brother arrived with some incredibly yummy smelling barbecue ribs from Blue Smoke and a huge bag of peanuts. Then the hot dog guy came buy and I bought a couple of those. It was a hot day, so by the sixth inning, I was ready for ice cream. I think we got off pretty easy on the price of things, but I was really thankful that I was driving and therefore couldn’t drink - the price of beer was incredibly high and not at all worth it.
Now, for the game. Well, things started off interestingly enough. When former Met Jose Reyes stepped to the plate, my group was excited, as were the fun guys seated in front of us. After all, we felt that the Mets didn’t offer him the money he deserved and didn’t fault him for moving to the Marlins. However, many fans out there did not share our sentiments, booing him nastily. Well, what’s the best retort to being booed? Hitting one out of the park, which Jose promptly did, prompting a chorus of the old Jose song (Jose, Jose-Jose-Jose, Joooosaaaaaay, Josaaaaaaaaaaay) from the guys in front of us. For my part, I clapped - hey, I was a Reyes fan before he left New York and I will be a Reyes fan for however long he plays.
Unfortunately, that homerun blast seemed to be a telltale sign of things to come. Chris Young on the mound for the Mets meant things were probably going to get worse. If the Mets didn’t help out with some runs, we were in for a long game. Well, we were in for a long game. A nine inning game in which the Marlins put thirteen runs on the board and the New York Mets ended up with a big fat zero. The worst moment of the game actually wasn’t the donut of a zero on that board or the centerfielder tripping over himself in the outfield to miss a sure flyout, but the fact that they brought in Jason Bay to pinch hit in the sixth. What was the point of bringing a sure out in to hit in the sixth? It wasn’t like he was going to drive any runners in and we knew it. The only batter who seemed to be doing anything was Ruben Tejada, proving his prowess in the infield as well as with the bat. As Mets fans well know, the powers that be will probably trade Tejada next year for monetary reasons, leaving us to scratch our heads in amazement. Why we never keep good players is beyond me.
By the thirteenth run against us, most of the fans had left the stadium. Even the fun guys in front of us had left at ten runs. After those ten runs, the rest of us who were left started getting a bit punchy. I began a rally chant: “We want one run! (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap) Just want one run! (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap) Please just one run! (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap),” prompting laughter from the few fans around us still left. We had vowed not to leave until the bitter end. Of course, that meant we had started cheering for the Marlins, especially when they got the final out to end the ninth inning. My very first game at Shea Stadium ended in a 12-2 rout of the Mets. It was only fitting that my first game at Citi Field would end in a 13-0 rout.
Despite the horrendous play and God-awful score on that scoreboard, we had a lot of fun watching the game as a family. Although I didn’t like how tight the seating was and most definitely did not like the new organ player, I found a lot to like about the new stadium. I loved the exterior and the museum and I applaud the numerous promotions throughout the game in which fans could win prizes by answering questions correctly, etc. The stadium and the field are absolutely beautiful and my experience at Citi Field was a whole lot of fun, but I will always miss Shea Stadium. It can’t be helped - I’m a nostalgic gal at heart and there was something about that stadium that was home for me and always will be.