I was going to start doing Monday Metropolitans, but multiple day-of-the-week posts (and alliteration) seem like the lazy way out to me, so I will stick with my one weekly post on Sunday and just wing it the rest of the time. Just like I do in real life. Besides, I have over 10,000 different Mets cards, I could do the Mets everyday for decades.
My post about how I became a Saints fan seem to resonate with some of you, so I thought I would share the more amusing story of how I became a Mets fan. My immediate family are all long time Yankees fans. My grandfather, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, all big Yankees fans. Well, all except one small enclave - there is one set of cousins who are all rabid, season ticket holding, dyed-in-the-wool Mets fans.
So because of the larger influence of the majority of my family, for the first six years of my life, I was a Yankees fan. I sat and listened to stories of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio et al and ate them up. My first baseball memory is watching the 1978 World Series, eating Reggie bars, and watching Mr. October smack three homers in game six. I became a Reggie Jackson junkie after that. I loved the Yankees and I loved Reggie. There is no accounting for the taste of a toddler, but that is not important right now. In fact, I even dressed as a Yankee for Halloween one year; my mother sewed a #7 on back for Mickey Mantle but believe me, in my mind's eye, I was #44. Fast forward a couple years to 1981, Reggie left the Yankees (more specifically, George Steinbrenner) as a free agent for the greener pastures of Anaheim, Disneyland, and the California Angels. Now, my six year old brain could not quite grasp the concept of free agency, in my world, the Yankees had traded Reggie Jackson!!!! I was livid, practically inconsolable.
Enter that enclave of Mets fan cousins. There are six of them, all of them older than me. The last two were boys only slightly older than me, but when you are six and they are 10 and 12, it makes all the difference in the world. One time, during a visit to their house shortly after the Reggie betrayal, we were playing. Well, I was playing, they were tormenting me while I played, as the older are wont to do to the younger. Somehow, the issue of baseball fandom came up and I expressed my anger at the Yankees and their lack of Reggieness. My cousins, seeing their opportunity to inflict more torture into my life, decided to brainwash me. They took me to the top of the stairs and held me over the bannister and threatened to drop me unless I pledged allegiance to the Mets. Being an impressionable child with a good sense of honor and a healthy fear of gravity, I promised to be a Mets fan and have been to this very day. If you think about it, that story is kind of an allegory for the whole experience of being a Mets fan.
I kept my word and gave being a Mets fan a try and it started out painful, but there was hope.
First there was Darryl Strawberry in 1983...
...that year also showed me a little bit of the Franchise:
Then the Doctor in 1984:
The 1985 team gave me Gary Carter, who I had liked in Montreal and loved in blue and orange.
And finally, 1986 gave me euphoria:
The team was on top of the world. My cousins had made me a Mets fan by force and then this legendary team had made me a fan for life. There was no stopping us now...
If only I could go back in time and tell 11-year old Max, "Enjoy this little dude, you won't see it again for at least 30 years..."