Only my third Mets game of the year, and last one for a while as finals are starting in my high school in a week. Left the house with my father at about 4 in the afternoon. We got there with some time to spare, so we visited the old site of Shea Stadium:
We had seats in the Sterling Level, section 4 rows behind home plate, $300 face value. My dad didn’t pay that much for them. I went to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda gate and was about 3rd on line. We ran into the sterling level, and there was a bar with butlers and bartenders, and the other employees were saying, “Good afternoon, gentlemen. How may I help you?” It felt more like a restaurant than a stadium. I was not planning to snag baseballs today, I was planning on trying to get some autographs. I went down to the front row in an ideal spot, next to the corner of the dugout where there was no netting in the way. I put down all the stuff that was making my backpack fall apart: 3 baseballs, some sharpies and pens, and a whole bunch of cards. Here is the view of the field from the seats:
If you look closely, you can see the edge of the netting on the bottom left.
I was the only one there for about 10 minutes, then other people started showing up. Eventually, David Wright came over and started signing for people that were allowed on the warning track. Then he walked over to us, and he signed for me first on a ball and used my pen for everyone else. He left right before I could hand him my baseball cards. My father took a good proof shot:
After he signed, he went into the dugout. I asked him to sign the ball on the sweet spot, he didn’t but it actually helped me as you will see later.
To everyone’s surprise, Mets all-time saves leader, John Franco, was at the game, and after talking with SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt, came over and signed a baseball for me on the sweet spot. Another Auto, another proof shot (expect a lot of these to come):
One last Met came over and signed, toward the end of the Mets BP, Gary Sheffield walked over and signed a card and he signed a baseball right under David Wright’s signature. I was in such the right spot that I was being crushed by people trying to get into my spot whenever someone was signing. Gary has a very nice signature. I had a card from when he played for the Padres in 1993, but he didn’t sign it. Anyone ever notice that he wears nice sunglasses?
That was it for the Mets portion of BP. David Wright, Gary Sheffield, and John Franco. Very Successful in my opinion. For the Mets duration of batting practice, I looked like this:
And about 30 seconds after that picture was taken, I looked like this:
Pretty convincing, huh? I moved over to the corner spot next to the Marlins dugout, and people followed me. I arrived with about 10 cards and 1 clean baseball.
Right after he took his turns at bat, Jorge Cantu walked over and started signing for everyone. He signed a little to the left of the sweet spot of my baseball.
Then manager Fredi Gonzalez came over. He signed my baseball on the sweetspot, but it was upside down. I lent my Marlins hat to the kid standing next to me.
Then Cody Ross came over and signed my baseball.W I had a card of him, but I just completely forgot about about it. No proof shot here. I asked Hanley Ramirez to sign, but he held up one finger and said he would sign after he hit. Then I made a laughable mistake. Rookie Chris Coghlan came over and started signing. I heard someone say it was Jeremy Hermida, so I said, “Thanks Jeremy.” after he signed my baseball. I was about to hand him Jeremy Hermida cards, but he walked away. Here is a Coghlan proof shot:
Prior to this game, I had spent some time looking for cards of some Marlins. Wile I was looking, I found 2 cards of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. I brought them because my friends told me that he is on the field with them during batting practice. Sure enough, Jeffrey Loria was walking on the field, and I got his attention and he came over and started signing and talking about how the Marlins are getting a new stadium and how he basically got robbed by the Expos a few years back. He signed my cards and my baseball. (Notice how big his 2003 World Champions ring is on his other hand.)
Then, all-star second baseman Dan Uggla walked over and started signing. I had a card of him, so he signed it and my baseball. This shot is awkward because I am asking the person behind me for a sharpie.
After he signed for us, he started signing baseballs behind the dugout. My friend threw him a card in the clip of a sharpie and it spun and landed on the dugout floor. Then it looked like Mr. Uggla spit at the card on the floor, but either way, he picked it up and signed it. It was funny.
For the last autograph of BP, true to his work, Hanley Ramirez came over and signed. Once again, everyone was trying to get into my spot, and after I got my card and baseball signed, I moved away
In some of these proof shots, you may realize that there is a man from the military in there. I talked to him and he said that he is home from Iraq, and that he was being honored as the service man of the game. I got a picture with him.
Thank You For Serving For Our Country in this time of war. When his name was announced in-between innings, the crowd at Citi Field gave him a standing ovation.
As for the game, I sat down in Section 16, row 4 and had food delivered to our seats. We had a great view, here it is:
It was a heck of a game, you could tell it was going to be a pitchers duel because by the time it was the seventh inning stretch, it was only 9:00. If you have Sterling level tickets, you have access to a small lounge where you can get free soda and bottled water. I had about 4 free sodas. In the bottom of the 11th, who else but Gary Sheffield stole a base and reached third base on an overthrow. Then, after Fernando Tatis got drilled by a pitch, Omir Santos hit a broken bat single to win the game for the Mets. Final Score: Marlins 1 at Mets 2 F/11
After the game, I went to the press exit, and was looking to find current announcer and former Met pitcher, Ron Darling, whom I had 2 cards of. The press exit at Citi Field is the VIP entrance. About 10 minutes after I got there, Ron Darling walked out holding a cup of soda, I asked him to sign my cards, he said yes and gave me his soda and said, “Hold this, and don’t spill it. It is more important.” He signed my cards in silver and I gave him back his soda. That was it. Day over.
Here are the signed baseballs: (Wright+Sheffield on the left.) (John Franco on the right.)
Below is the Hanley auto on the ball.
And below are all the cards I got signed:
That is it, phew this took a while. I got some mail, but that can wait till the next entry.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments.