When Major League Baseball released the 2021 schedule, showing the second round of the Subway Series would take place at Citi Field during the weekend of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Mets knew they had to deliver a ceremony that struck the right tone.

While the team has struggled on the field to the consternation of their fans this past season, they came through with flying colors as far as 9/11 was concerned.

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Mets fans who have been growing frustrated with the team’s hot and cold performance this season can give themselves a break next week when the documentary “Once Upon a Time in Queens, a four-part presentation that is part of ESPN’s award-winning “30 for 30” series, debuts Sept. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. ,according to a press release from the network.

It was produced by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, a lifelong Mets fan, and directed by Nick Davis. It chronicles how the team after years of second-division finishes developed home-grown talent like Mookie Wilson, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry; while adding finishing pieces like Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, all leading up to an epic World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

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After a year without fans, spectator business has been bustling this year at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the US Open.

In the top row, Arina Radu and Aaron Prager of Forest Hills take a break outside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Ming Ling of Flushing and Qing Hu Ren and Michelle Ren, 3, of Elmhurst walk around the grounds. At top right, former Queens resident Evelyn Dominguez brought her father, Freddy, left, and her grandfather, Luis, 90, to their first Open. Freddy Dominguez was a longtime employee at Elmhurst Dairy.

Jimmy Kimmel, the host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” grew up a Mets fan in Brooklyn, and his family’s move to Las Vegas when he was in elementary school did not alter his fandom. He was 18 when the Mets won the 1986 World Series, and it remains his favorite sports memory, as it is for so many fans of the Amazin’s who were old enough to remember it.

Kimmel has long wanted to branch out in the television industry. Since ESPN and ABC are both part of the Disney empire, he was able to get a green light to produce a four-hour, two-night documentary on the 35th anniversary of that memorable Mets team. “Once Upon a Time in Queens” will air in prime time next Tuesday and Wednesday on ESPN.

The Ozone Howard Stars became Borough Cup champions when they defeated the Van Nest Realtors on Aug. 18 at Maimonides Park, a minor league baseball stadium in Coney Island.

The travel baseball team won the Borough Cup tournament’s 16 and under division. The team kicked off the summer winning another tournament in Chester, NY, and dominating their Long Island league before capturing the much-coveted Borough Cup City Championship.

The death of Rod Gilbert, one of the most popular players in New York Rangers history, at age 80 last week unleashed a torrent of tributes. He played most of the 1960s and ’70s for the Blueshirts, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. That alone, however, doesn’t explain why his passing saddened so many.

Gilbert was as much a part of the late 1960s New York sports fabric as Joe Namath and Tom Seaver. They were celebrities even to those who didn’t follow sports. Perhaps because hockey wasn’t as popular as baseball or football, Gilbert was more approachable to the average person.

Put me in, coach, I’m ready for J&J.

Public school athletes will need a vaccine to play several high-risk school sports, city officials announced last Friday.

All Elite Wrestling, which began operations two years ago, has quickly developed into a very serious challenger to the behemoth of the grappling game, World Wrestling Entertainment. A sign AEW means business is it is holding its first-ever New York City card. The location is Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 22.

AEW, which airs Wednesday nights on cable’s TNT, is getting ratings that rival WWE’s two biggest weekly TV extravaganzas, “Raw” on the USA Network, which airs Mondays, and “Smackdown,” on Friday nights on Fox.

When I was growing up, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game was a far bigger deal than it is today. There are myriad of reasons for its decline.

It’s safe to say the ASG was a major beneficiary of baseball’s reserve clause which bound a player to one team until a club either traded or released him. While that deprived players economically, it meant fans saw the same players playing for the same league every year at the midsummer classic.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took a hard line with players who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19 when he unilaterally declared that if an NFL game is canceled because an unvaccinated player caused a team outbreak, then the team that caused the trouble will forfeit the game. In addition, no player on either team will get paid that week.

The National Football League Players Association will certainly challenge Goodell’s edict. Frankly, the part about the “innocent team” did seem draconian and unfair. On the other hand, Goodell is right in feeling those who have done the right thing by getting jabbed should not be held hostage to the “freedoms” of anti-vaxxers.

At their Friday post-trade deadline press conference, Mets President Sandy Alderson and acting general manager Zack Scott put the best spin they could on the only move they made, trading minor league outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Javier Baez and pitcher Trevor Williams.

Baez is a terrific player who Mets fans know has enjoyed many big games against their team. He can adequately fill in at shortstop while Francisco Lindor recuperates from his oblique injury. Given how many punchless nights the Mets offense has endured this year, you can’t blame Alderson and Scott for making the deal.

The New York Mets are bringing back their classic Banner Day, though field access restrictions related to Covid-19 will make it a monthlong virtual event.

The team began accepting photos and videos of banners on Monday at Mets.com/BannerDay. Submissions must be sent by Aug. 9. The club will announce a winner on Aug. 26.

Former Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays over the winter, returned to Citi Field Friday night to start against his old team. His old buddy, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, rudely greeted him in the first inning by slugging a two-run home run.

Mets fans remember all too well how Matz would get rattled and seem to fall apart at the first sign of adversity. On this night, however, he showed total composure. He settled down and mowed down most batters until the sixth inning when he was pulled by Jays manager Charlie Montoya after yielding a double to Alonso, who would go on to hit another home run to give the Mets a 3-0 win. It was the first big-league win for rookie pitcher Tylor Megill, who deserved to have a couple more but was victimized by the bullpen in previous starts.

The Howard Beach Dads Facebook group will host a family handball tournament from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 25 at Walter Ward Playground,159-15 88 St.

Teams of two can sign up for $40 each. The event, sponsored by Empanada on the Rise, will also include a basketball clinic and a free karate class for kids and arts and crafts.

Until Mets outfielder Michael Conforto, who has had a miserable season trying to get his batting average over .200, hit a 9th-inning, two-run homer Sunday to give the Mets the decisive runs in a 7-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, this past weekend in the Steel City was a George Romero-styl…

Registration is open for free summer tennis lessons.

New York Junior Tennis and Learning is offering free community tennis lessons to kids ages 5 through 18 across Queens:

Like many Italian enclaves around New York City, Howard Beach burst into green, white and red in response to Italy’s win in the European soccer championship last Sunday.

After Italy pulled off the victory through a one-penalty-shot lead, neighborhood residents flocked to Cross Bay Boulevard donning Italian flags and grouping along the sidewalk and in the median of the business corridor to celebrate, top.

In 2020, Major League Baseball initiated a rule that made all doubleheaders seven-inning games. The thinking was it would reduce injury and fatigue for players at a time when hospitals were overrun with Covid-19 patients. Shorter doubleheaders also make it easier for teams to travel if games are on getaway days.

With Covid-19 hopefully on the downturn thanks to vaccinations — although there are still knuckleheads who refuse to get their shots which is allowing this Delta variant to thrive — fans have now returned. MLB, however, has kept the seven-inning rule for twinbills.

In 1928 developer and builder Gerald C. English started to build a 11-room, 3-bath English Tudor house on a 94-by-126-foot lot at 175-12 Murdock Ave. in Addisleigh Park.

It was completed in 1929. Mr. English, of the famous Rodman-English Building Corp., was responsible for building over 1,700 English Tudor homes in Hollis, St. Albans, Rego Park and Auburndale. He lived directly across the street from his masterpiece.

The Mets hobbled into Yankee Stadium having won just six of their last 17 games. Their hitting was anemic and there was an overall malaise about them. Granted, the Yankees have their own issues, but on paper, this was still the same lineup that has been a fixture in the postseason. Consideri…

While it is now commonplace for professional sports organizations to have a night devoted to honoring the LGBTQ community, it is a recent phenomenon. The Chicago Cubs became the first MLB team to salute the community 20 years ago when they held a “Gay Days” weekend at Wrigley Field. To say that was a controversial marketing decision in the conservative, macho sports would be a gross understatement.

The Mets marked their fifth Pride Night this past Friday with a T-shirt giveaway sponsored by Citi. They honored the LGBT Network and Callen-Lorde Health Centers, which provide medical services to the LGBTQ community regardless of ability to pay. They also gave a portion of Friday’s ticket revenue to the LGBT Network.

Queens College ceremoniously broke ground June 16 on its $9.3 million soccer field and track renovation project.

Director of Athletics Robert Twible, left, Student Association President Zaire Couloute, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens College President Frank H. Wu, City Councilmember Francisco Moya, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, City Councilmember James Gennaro, Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection and alumnus Rory Lancman, City University of New York Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodr’guez and Queens College student athlete Shannon Gibbons celebrated the upgrades last Wednesday.

The conventional morning-after wisdom was that the Brooklyn Nets let everyone down in losing their second-round NBA playoff series to the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, with the decisive Game 7 resulting in an overtime loss. Given the injuries to two of the Nets biggest stars, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, it’s amazing the Bucks didn’t win this series in five games. It was only the heroics of Nets forward Kevin Durant that extended this series as far as it did.

You couldn’t blame the Bucks if they thought of the “respect” joke tagline that iconic comic and Kew Gardens native Rodney Dangerfield always employed. The Bucks’ big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday may not possess the luster of the Nets’ triumvirate but they’re not chopped liver either. Unlike the Nets’ stars, they played as an intact unit throughout the regular season, which paid dividends in this playoff series.

Last Friday night was a reminder of what life was like in prepandemic times as the Mets drew around 26,000 spectators for their largest crowd since September 2019. The pitching matchup was stellar, with two recent Cy Young Award winners: the San Diego Padres’ Blake Snell against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom.

Snell, who no-hit the Mets through six innings in San Diego the week before, was good. DeGrom, however, was his usual untouchable self, as he threw six shutout innings and helped his cause with a base hit to drive in a pair of decisive runs in what would be a Mets 3-2 win.

The Saint Albans/Jamaica Comets Little League will host a game at Roy Wilkins Park on June 19, also known as Juneteenth.

The Comets will go up against Malverne Little League, a team from Long Island, because the Comets are one of two teams registered in Queens due to the coronavirus pandemic. The other team is Rosedale Little League, according to Bridget Smith, a parent whose sons, Jaden and Justin, were a part of the Comets and had helped at events.

2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka made news last week when she withdrew from the French Open after winning her first-round match. Osaka cited depression as the reason. She said she could have continued in the tournament had there not been a stipulation that all tennis players must hold a press conference following all their matches.

Depression doesn’t discriminate and it affects even the most successful people in their fields. I applaud her for seeking help in battling it. Having said that, however, I wasn’t happy she made the media out to be a cause for her distress. Yes, I am a sports columnist so my reaction is expected, but the truth is every job has aspects we’re not crazy about, but we can’t only do the parts we happen to like.

Mets fans have become all too accustomed to seeing their beloved franchise get decimated by injuries, but 2021 has been a doozy even by pessimistic Flushing standards. Pitchers who undergo surgery especially seem to have trouble returning in a timely manner to Citi Field.

That certainly seems to be the case with Noah Syndergaard, who underwent Tommy John surgery in late March 2020. The conventional wisdom was he would be back in the Mets starting rotation sometime this month, and worst-case scenario, just after the All-Star break.

Todd Miranda, the executive director of the National Small Business Chamber of Commerce and president of the New York Boxing Association, sponsored a Business Appreciation event May 15 at Magna, an Italian restaurant located in Flushing.

The executive director of Magna, Eleonora Greco, supervised the event at 35-25 Farrington St.

“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” is a time-honored political adage. Mets infielders Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil would have been better off following that advice last Friday night after they got into an off-field dustup during the seventh inning of what turned out to be an exciting 5-4 comeback win in ten innings over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It’s not easy for a new infield combination to get acclimated. Shortstop Lindor and second baseman McNeil have had communication issues in the field during the early going of the 2021 season, although in fairness they have turned some nifty double plays.

These are heady times for National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, who spent a chunk of his formative years in Forest Hills and graduated from Russell Sage Junior High School.

It wasn’t long ago that the NHL was not a very desirable commodity for television sports executives and its broadcast rights were priced far below those of Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. NBC has had exclusive rights for NHL telecasts for 15 years, for which it forks over about $200 million annually.

It’s March 9, 1971. A senior at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York, skips school for the first and only time. He’s in Manhattan, waiting outside The New YorkerHotel. Waiting for someone he considers an idol. Someone who took left hook after left hook the night before as 300 million people watched.

That someone is Muhammad Ali. The fighter emerges from the hotel with a swollen face but with his charisma intact. He had just lost the “Fight of the Century” against rival and fellow heavyweight Joe Frazier. The high school kid approaches Ali, greets him, and gets his autograph. The teenager is ecstatic about the autograph and the experience. But he is unaware that he will not only befriend Ali and other famous athletes, but also go on to have what many would deem a dream career and life.

Professional soccer is coming to Queens — and York College in Jamaica — next spring.

City officials on Tuesday joined the owner of Queensboro FC to announce plans to build a 7,500-seat stadium on a plot of land just south of York’s Health and Physical Education building.

Mike Puma has been the Mets beat writer for the New York Post since 2010, and he’s the gold standard for anyone who follows the team. He has just penned a history of the Mets, which encapsulates the last 25 years titled, “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the New York Mets” (Triumph Books).

Puma smartly avoids getting caught in the Bernie Madoff rabbit hole, which destroyed the Mets for a good chunk of the time he was in the Citi Field press box. He instead gives us grueling recollections of David Wright valiantly trying to get back on the field despite painful spinal stenosis, and Johan Santana’s no-hitter at Citi Field on June 1, 2012. Santana’s no-no remains the only one in Mets history, and there is a Twilight Zone aspect to it because his career seemed to rapidly deteriorate after that game.

A ribbon cutting celebrated the reconstruction of the Crocheron Park Little League ball field nearly a year after construction was completed.

City Parks Department District Manager Ralph Vialet, left, Northeast Queens Park Administrator Matthew Symons, Parks Chief of Staff to the Queens Borough Commissioner Joanne Amagrande, City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), Bayside Little League President Bob Reid, Borough President Donovan Richards and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver were the few to attend the small ceremony April 16 just in time for the Little League season, which kicked off the following day.

The death of rogue financier and Far Rockaway native Bernard Madoff last Wednesday unleashed painful reminders about the suffering of those who lost their life savings. While Mets fans’ emotional pain cannot compare with what the real victims of his Ponzi schemes endured, most pumped their fists in the air when they learned of Madoff’s demise.

If you ask Mets fans what the worse thing to happen to their beloved franchise was, the first answer would be when team president M. Donald Grant traded Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for four players on June 15, 1977. Nothing against the players the Mets got in return, but they were the equivalent of pennies on the dollar.

Tarek Pertew, founder of soccer league NYC Footy, said people fall into three categories in their response to the pandemic: those who won’t go out, those who don’t care and in-betweeners who follow protocols.

Still, the adult league has three more teams than its previous high. “This is our biggest season, which is a shock,” Pertew said Monday. “Clearly the demand is there.”

Whether you’re a scratch golfer or your game resembles Ralph Kramden’s, it’s time to see how the swing is at one of the courses in the borough.

One is Kissena Park Golf Course at 164-15 Booth Memorial Ave. in Flushing.

Citi Field opened back up for Mets fans last Thursday after the Amazin’s spent 2020 playing home games in front of cardboard cutouts and empty seats.

It may not have been a coincidence Gov. Cuomo opened the eligibility for Covid vaccinations for all individuals 16 and older the week both the Mets and Yankees were hosting their season openers. Both teams took advantage to schedule vaccines for their players following a game when players could have an off-day after getting their shot in case of reactions.

MLB has made no secret it wants all players to get vaccinated. Frankly, everyone should want to get shots so they can ward off this evil virus and get our lives back. As a sweetener for the players, protocols would be eased for all teams that achieve 85 percent player vaccine compliance. Those teams don’t have to wear masks in the dugout; can eat at restaurants outside of the team hotel on the road; and won’t have to quarantine in the event a teammate tests positive.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred shook up the sports and political worlds last Friday by announcing he was relocating the All-Star Game from Truist Field in Atlanta to Denver’s Coors Field because of the new Georgia voting law.

Based on prima facie evidence the Georgia law seems overly and needlessly restrictive. Had the legislation been simply about requiring voter ID, for which persuasive arguments can be made (even though voter fraud seems more anecdotal than fact-based) the odds are the game would have remained in Cobb County. What angered many were provisions that threatened to arrest anyone distributing water or any other beverage or food, along with the Georgia Legislature having the right to overrule county election boards.

The Flushing boys of summer are back at Citi+ Field and things are looking a lot better than they did last year at this time. While Covid-19 hasn’t been eradicated, and the threat of new strains hangs over our heads, the vaccine rollout (and the Mets’ home has served as a Queens vaccine hub) has gone well and there is real hope life is getting back to normal.

Last year Major League Baseball didn’t start the season until late July and it went 60 games instead of the traditional 162. The Mets never seemed to get started, as their longest winning streak was a mere three games and they finished 26-34.

Last season’s abbreviated 60-game schedule saw the Mets play division opponents 10 times apiece with the remaining 20 games against American League East opponents. Now the 162-game schedule is back and the Amazin’s will face their National League East rivals 19 times each.

The Braves are searching for a third straight division title. The Marlins are looking to show last season’s surprise playoff appearance was no fluke. The Phillies want to prove they have the pieces to make the postseason, despite a bullpen that betrayed them in 2020. And the Nationals are hoping there is another deep playoff run for the franchise that won the 2019 World Series.

Last Thursday, Fox Sports issued a press release announcing the retirement of veteran play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton who spent 27 years there. Stockton grew up in Kew Gardens Hills and graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1960. He called contests for 55 years for NBC, CBS, Turner and Fox.

When I heard the news about Stockton, I thought of another celebrity who grew up in central Queens, the late comic Rodney Dangerfield. While it wouldn’t be right to say Stockton never got respect it is fair to say he never received the adulation he deserved.

Citi Field and Yankee Stadium will be allowed to go to 20 percent capacity to start the season, Gov. Cuomo announced last Thursday. That means 8,492 fans for Mets home games.

The Mets home opener is Thursday, April 8, at 1:10 p.m. against the Miami Marlins.

The Quinnipiac University baseball team in Hamden, Conn., took unity to the next level this season to support one of their own.

Anthony Ambrosino, a junior pitcher on the Bobcats, lost his father, Anthony, on Oct. 7, 2020, following a two-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

While it was expected the NFL would get its existing TV partners to fork over more than $80 billion to continue their relationships through 2033, a far bigger surprise to me was ESPN spending $2.4 billion to wrest NHL broadcasting rights away from NBC Sports. The pact starts this fall and ends six years later.

Of concern to hockey fans is that 75 games a year will be broadcast exclusively on a trio of streaming services the Disney Corp. owns, Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. If the Rangers are playing the Islanders and that game is designated a streaming service game, then MSG, the cable home for the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, will not be able to telecast it. In contrast, Amazon, which will have exclusive broadcast rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package beginning in 2023, allows a local broadcast station to simulcast a Jets or Giants game.

The Johnnies saw their NCAA Tournament hopes dashed with a 77-69 overtime loss to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament last Thursday.

On Sunday night, St. John’s announced it had informed the National Invitation Tournament committee of its request to remove the school from consideration.

Vito Antuofermo, the Howard Beach resident and former middleweight boxing champion, was sorry to learn of the loss of Marvin Hagler last Saturday.

Hagler, 66, considered one of the greatest champions in the sport’s history, fought Antuofermo twice.

Knicks legend Patrick Ewing has never been known for having an easygoing personality. He would frequently glower at reporters in the hopes they would avoid conversing with him in the locker room during his playing days. His less than warm personality has been cited as the key reason he never landed the NBA head coaching job he craved.

Ewing’s alma mater, Georgetown University, hired him to be its basketball head coach in 2017. In fairness, Ewing showed a different side to him at the Big East media days each October at Madison Square Garden. He was accessible to writers and seemed to be enjoying himself as he smiled more than I can recall for all of his years with the Knicks.

For the first time since 2015, the Red Storm finished Big East play with a winning record and earned a bye in the first round of the conference tournament.

Without injured freshman guard Posh Alexander, the Johnnies erased an 11-point halftime deficit against Providence and then dug themselves out of an 18-0 hole against Seton Hall last Saturday.