A Dream of Fields 6: The New York Mets

Three guys. Three games. Three days. One weekend. One wonderful ROAD TRIP!

Friday, July 23, 1999, 7:40pm

Shea Stadium

06Mets

New York Mets 5, Chicago Cubs 4

I’d always wanted to do this—visit multiple locations on one trip. Granted, the real dream is to do a summer-long road trip and go to all 30 MLB parks, but I have neither the finances, the summer child care, nor the reliable enough car to make it happen yet. Maybe when my kids are in college and I have several best-selling books…

Or maybe I’ll just stick to weekend trips.

Two friends and I decided we’d visit the three closest non-Boston ballparks—the two in New York and one in Philadelphia. The scheduling worked in our favor, each of the three teams were playing at home over the weekend of July 23-25, 1999. It made the most sense (to us) to visit a New York park on the Friday, followed by Philadelphia on Saturday, and the other New York park on the return trip. The Mets were chosen for the first leg because the Yankees were playing a day game on Sunday. Or maybe we didn’t want to be in the Bronx late on a Friday night. Or both.

Thanks to the ordering in advance on the internet, we already had tickets in hand. That particular night was MERENGUE NIGHT at Shea Stadium. The Cubs were in town, and it was the season after Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa electrified the baseball universe with their chase to break the single-season home run record. It was the middle year of Sosa’s three-year streak of 60+ HRs, so he was a popular figure at the time, and Merengue night was presumably coinciding with his arrival.

We opted to go for inexpensive seats. After all, we had two different hotels, food, gas, etc. to pay for. But the “cheap seats” at Shea were pretty good; we were in the upper deck behind home plate. The people sitting near us were friendly, and that would become part of our collective assessment of other parks. As fans of neither team playing, we chose to take a page from Take Me Out to the Ballgame and “root, root, root for the home team.” And they won. (Interesting side note: out of the five non-Boston parks I had been to at this point, the home team won all of the games except for one. That home team—the Twins—lost to the Red Sox!)

One of my friends and I missed about two full innings in the middle of the game while we waited in line for Italian sausage subs with grilled peppers and onions (Yum!). For whatever reason, the guy at the grill wasn’t adept at the sausage to pepper/onion ratio, but he had a good sense of humor. The desire for a sausage sub (it smelled so good) outweighed the desire to see the game. The sub was fantastic, by the way.

Merengue Night festivities officially began after the game ended. It looked like a lot of fun, but we left to find our hotel in Jersey and get some sleep before the next leg of the trip. The next leg of the trip would be the best.

Onward to Philly!

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Check out the other posts in this series:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Montreal Expos

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