When I brought the mail in this afternoon there was, among the junk mail, bills, and other items, a manilla envelope. It was addressed to my children. The return address read simply “CitiField, Flushing, NY”. I was puzzled for about two seconds. And then I remembered that a few months ago I had been on the New York Mets website. You see, although I do not follow baseball, I am a Mets fan. Why, you ask? Simply put, I grew up in Northern New Jersey, I hate the Yankees, and I remember the excitement in the air when as a fourth grade student at Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School our teacher, Miss Hobbie (a right old spinster) returned from a week away with the flu because the Mets had won the World Series. As a teacher, I truly do not understand her motivation in coming back to school while still recovering and the potential risk of infecting 30 9 year-olds; but hey, I guess people react to exuberance in different ways.
Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by the club’s mascot. As an adult I remember riding the F Train home from the Upper East Side where I worked as a production assistant at WNYW. It was obscenely late at night. I looked up, my eyes weary, and noticed a string of advertisements along the top of the car. They featured a full color picture of a baseball-headed humanoid wearing a Mets uniform. The text read: “Mr. Met may be a dork; but you still have to call him Mister.” Brilliant ad campaign.
Once, out at Shea, I actually met Mr. Met!
Mr. Met was, in fact, the first mascot of a professional sports team to appear in actual (as opposed to cartoon) form. He disappeared for a while from the mid-70’s until the late 1990’s but his return proved him more popular with fans than ever.
Where is all of this going? Well, I have passed on my love of Mr. Met on to my children. They have their Mr. Met books (my favorite is Mr. Met Visits the Big Apple), their Mr. Met shirts. My son even knows the old Mets fight song, Meet the Mets, by heart and can find it readily on my iPad with the flick of his finger (to my chagrin). I was on the Mets’ website to see what new and exciting Mr. Met items were available for the kids when I saw a link that caught my eye. It was a link to email the man himself! I clicked it and wrote a quick note about how my kids and I were his biggest fans and that, even though we now lived hundreds of miles away, we still love our Mr. Met. I told him about how Ben sings the song and Rita dances along to it. I asked if he could send the kids an autographed picture.
I had completely forgotten all of this.
And then I opened that manilla envelope.
Ben’s eyes lit up.
I texted the picture to a friend who is a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. I knew he’d appreciate the joy of my children. His only response was that Mr. Met had great penmanship for a man with such massive hands.
I have yet to decide if the kids will ever be allowed to handle these cards.