Mets home opener is a home run, even a day late 1

The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 9-3 at Friday's home opener.

The Mets’ home opener may have been postponed by a day, but neither the delay nor the cloudy skies seemed to put a damper on fans’ spirits as they headed out to Citi Field on Friday. By 10 a.m., dozens of fans could already be found flipping burgers on the grill and sipping cold ones as they tailgated in the Marina Parking Lot.

Perhaps that’s because for many, it was business as usual: Several of the fans the Chronicle spoke with ahead of the Mets’ 1 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins said this was not their first Opening Day. As they lined up outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, waiting for the gates to open, a palpable sense of excitement was in the air as they awaited their Amazin’s 2023 Queens debut. 

For John Sadowski, who hails from Suffolk, Friday marked his 21st Opening Day, the second for his school-aged son, Ethan. But the thrill of it all has never faded — asked what keeps him coming back, he shrugged and said with a smile, “I love the Mets.”

Farmingville, LI, resident Fred Harris has only missed one Mets’ home opener since 1997: in 2013 (and the next year, he quit his job so he could go to Opening Day). His wife, Diane, came dressed for the occasion, donning an orange, fuzzy jacket with royal blue Converse and to top it all off, a Mets-themed French manicure. 

Indeed, Opening Day is one where the diehards show their stripes — sometimes literally. Alexander Roldon, who, along with his friend, Marky Boodhou, is originally from Jamaica, showed off his sleeve of Mets tattoos. Backed by alternating orange and blue stripes, the back of his forearm has the Manhattan skyline inked behind the signature ‘Mets’ lettering. On top of his bicep is Mr. Met, who sits above a Big Apple and the Unisphere.

Others paid tribute to their favorite players. Chris and Kim Ballalizi of Medford, LI, for example, had attached stuffed flying squirrels to their hats in honor of Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil, whose jersey they both sported.

For some, it was a family affair: Shirley, LI, resident Charlie Kamer took his granddaughter, Ariana, to the ballpark Friday not only for her first Opening Day, but to show her the brick outside the stadium inscribed with the family name. 

Glen Cove native DJ DeChiara dragged his dad — a Yankees fan — along for the game. “We don’t know how this happened,” his father, Dominic, told the Chronicle. 

They were far from the only families: Owner Steve Cohen greeted the fans on the field along with his wife, Alex, and their daughters. As he punched a fist into the air, fans cheered back a round of “Unc-le Steve-y!”

The family of legendary Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy was in full form, as well. New this season, his name will hang with the team’s retired numbers in left field. As part of the day’s opening ceremonies, his children Bryan, Casey and Kelly; on the receiving end were former coach Tim Teuful, former pitcher Turk Wendell and legendary outfielder Mookie Wilson. 

Despite a lopsided first two series and some injuries —  most notably, the team’s newly acquired Cy Young winning pitcher Justin Verlander and star closer Edwin Diaz — fans were still optimistic about the Mets’ 2023 prospects. More than one fan predicted that the team would earn 100 wins once again this season. But by the end of the game, they were one step closer: The Mets won 9-3.

CORRECTION

An earlier version of this story misstated Mookie Wilson's position. He was an outfielder. We regret the error.