Longtime New York Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose grew up a fan in Douglaston so you can imagine how excited he was to be the emcee at Saturday’s ceremonies to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Miracle Mets who won the World Series in spite of there being 100-1 odds to do so at the beginning of that year.
When he began his speech by saying that the 1969 Mets changed lives it seemed hyperbolic and provincial but when he added that it proved no goal was unattainable he made his point as to why the joy of that unexpected championship transcended their sizable fan base.
Mayor deBlasio covered the same ground that Rose did when he gave out keys to the city to members of the 1969 team who were present at Citi Field as he spoke about the Mets’ rightful place in that historic year that included the lunar landing, the Woodstock Festival, the Stonewall Inn riots and the anti-war protests.
While Bud Harrelson, Ron Swoboda, Jerry Grote, Jerry Koosman and Ed Kranepool (who said he felt great following his May kidney transplant and served as spokesman for the players at the ceremony) were present, the greatest Mets player of all, Tom Seaver, didn’t attend due to a variety of health issues.
He was, however, in the forefront of everyone’s mind. Last Thursday, as a kickoff for the 1969 weekend, the Mets announced that a statue of him had been commissioned and that Citi Field’s address would become 41 Seaver Way.
When I asked Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon if the United States Postal Service had signed off on it, he replied, “Yes. You can send me fan mail here!”
There were some snafus regarding Saturday’s overall touching ceremony which included a great video on 1969. Two Mets who spent a brief time on their roster that year, outfielder Jim Gosger and pitcher Jesse Hudson, were cited as deceased while both are very much alive. The tribute failed to mention the Mets iconic broadcasters from that era: Ralph Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy.
The Mets were able to recreate the Shea Stadium scoreboard complete with Atari-style electronic font. The late organist Jane Jarvis’s “Let’s Go Mets” theme, which was played whenever the team took the field to begin a game back then, was played when the 2019 team did so. The PA system played songs from 1969, such as The Beatles’ “Get Back,” BJ Thomas’ “Hooked on a Feeling,” Booker T. & the MG’s’ “Time Is Tight,” the Zombies’ “Time of the Season” and the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar.”
The music was much better then and so were the Mets.
In what has been yet another dreary season for Mets fans an unexpected bright spot was learning on Sunday that three of their players, first baseman Pete Alonso, infielder-outfielder Jeff McNeil and pitcher Jacob deGrom, were named to the 2019 National League All-Star team. Although he is not as dominant as he was last season, deGrom is still one of baseball’s best starters. His won-loss record is misleadingly subpar thanks in part to the Mets’ putrid bullpen.
The Mets introduced their third-round pick in the recent amateur draft, pitcher Matt Allan, on Friday at Citi Field. He is a hard-thrower who just graduated from high school in the Orlando area. Allan’s agent is arguably the most famous in baseball, Scott Boras, who always enjoys interacting with the media.
I asked Boras about why so many players have had trouble landing deals when they become free agents. “The top-tier players will always get the big contracts no matter what but things are tougher for the middle-class player. The reason for that is too many involved with player evaluations are using models with algorithms that ignore intangible qualities.” Boras cited how veteran players provide leadership qualities in the clubhouse such as mentoring younger players and serving as go-to guys for the media.
Mayor deBlasio wasn’t the only elected official in the Citi Field press conference room on Saturday to honor the 1969 Mets. He was joined by Long Island Congressman and Queens native Peter King (R-NY), who is a rabid Mets fan. Although they are miles apart politically they greeted each other warmly.
I asked Representative King if there was any chance that the tax deduction for state and local income taxes and real estate taxes which is currently capped at $10,000 would be raised for 2019. “I am working on a bill in Congress that would increase it. Everyone is benefitting off the money that New York taxpayers are sending to Washington.”
Life and style
Queens was well-represented at last week’s Fancy Food Show held at the Javits Center. Among the exhibitors from our borough were the Jamaica-based beverage company Mansi; Astoria java producer Jailhouse Coffees; BCS International which makes CocoWell coconut water and is located in Long Island City; Woodside confectioner Treat House; and Italian food importer Antico, which has their American headquarters in Whitestone.
Staying on the topic of food, McDonald’s U.S. restaurants has just added a menu item that has long been a staple just north of the border in Canada, the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich. You can choose either crispy chicken or the healthier grilled chicken.
The annual consumer electronics summer trade show for media, CE Week, was held the previous week at Javits.
The usage of audio technology to deal with urban noise was a popular theme this year. ZVOX showed its featherweight AV50 headphones which purports to cancel out even the loudest outside noises. Another electronics company, iHome, was displaying its new Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine. As we get older we need all the help that we can get when it comes to shuteye.