The only time in my life that I ever saw my father seriously worried for my future was when I threw a baseball with the wrong foot forward. Horrified, he made a quick adjustment and all was well in the Roberts household.
Whether they were winning or losing, my Dad and I have been lifelong Mets fans. Being an awesome father with high priorities for me, he suggested I skip school to watch them clinch the 1969 World Series. In a payback, so to speak, while I was living in Boston, a highlight of my life was getting us tickets to every game of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series at Fenway Park. Surrounded by grieving and oh so silent Red Sox fans we celebrated the Mets win being anything BUT silent and grieving. When Bill Buckner (no relation), first baseman for the Red Sox, watched that ball go through his legs, along with a city of horrified fans, he became, and will remain my favorite baseball player of all time. And if you’re a Mets fan you know what I’m talking about.
It’s become our tradition that every year I take my father to a home game, hoping for a great pitching match-up. Sitting with my Dad, a starting pitcher for Rutgers Newark ‘53-‘56, I learned there’s more to the game than meets the eye and the past 2 years were particularly fun because they were a winning team.
This year, for the first time in a long time, sadly, there was no plan to get to a game. My 85-year old father was very unsteady due to a bad fall and needed a cane. So instead, we watched the games on his big-screen TV.
I’m not sure if it was because the Mets were killing it this year with a rag-tag team of triple A players to make up for a bruised and battered starting line-up, or the fact that there were no kosher hot dogs in the house, but he turned to me and said, “You only live once. Let’s go to a game.”
In the words of the great Yogi Berra, “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.”
Off we went to Citi Field.
Arriving at the stadium, I opened the door to where my Dad sat, handed him his cane and tried to calm my nerves. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. The long walk to the stadium mixed with the impatient, rowdy, and jostling NY crowd unnerved me. Ok, I thought, Ya Gotta believe!
Slowly and carefully into the crowd we went. Almost immediately, we were met by a Citi Field representative who asked, “Sir, what can I help you with?” I looked behind us. Was he speaking to my Dad? He was, and I almost hugged him out of gratitude. Showing him our tickets he escorted us away from the crowd and into a private elevator. I felt like Kim Kardashian without the fake add-ons.
The elevator opened and another Citi Field rep led us to the restaurant where 2 fans offered my father and I their seats. I made a b-line to the station serving kosher hot dogs, kraut and 2 beers, please. I hadn’t met so many smiling, helpful people in one place since Kindergarten.
Off to our seats where soon into the game another Citi Field rep asked if we wanted to move to cushioned seats and I started to think having an old man with a cane had its advantages. Perhaps I would start an agency… Rent-a-Senior! Avoid all lines by hiring my Dad to be a stand-in at the DMV or Shop-Rite before a storm. He was a walking goldmine! But I digress, back to the Mets and my Dad.
It was a completely wonderful night capped off with a 10th run homer by Yo Céspedis which gave our Mets a win. A final order of cracker jack for me and ice cream for him and I thought life is just too fun. When the game ended it was back to the star treatment and the private elevator. I offered the elevator operator my autograph as I was now a legend, if only in my own mind.
You need a sense of humor to be a Mets fan.
We got into the car and my Dad looked at me with that gigantic smile of his and said, “that was a great night, kid.” His example to me, one of many in my lifetime: live and enjoy every moment in life. Persevere, even if it takes time, patience, fear, and some pain to do it. But do it.
And make sure there’s a good pitcher on the mound.
“The future ain’t what it used to be.” ~ Yogi Berra
LETS GO METS!
Reprinted in honor of my father whose birthday is today, September 28. He passed away on September 11, 2018.