Friday, June 1, 2012

Stan watching Santana about to strike out David Freese for the final out in Met's historic first no hitter! 

June 1, 2012, 7:50 pm, ninth inning, two outs, full count, Santana throws, a perfect change-up, down the pipe then drops, Freese swings, he misses, it's a no hitter! 8020 games later, in their 51st season, Johan Santana throws the first no hitter in Mets history!!!!  and the biggest headline of all:

Stan and I watched the entire game together. A miracle in itself, all the stars aligned that on this night, Stan had no caregiver, Jackie is out of town, Micah and Howie are at parties and have sleepovers and Mark is in charge of Dad for the evening... We watch as the Mets take an early 2 - 0 lead, then it's 5 - 0, then 8 - 0 and it's obvious that the Mets are going to win this game....

Around the 6th inning the chance of a no hitter is becoming apparent. I ask Dad what he would like for dinner, maybe something he hasn't had in awhile that no one will ever make him and without missing a beat he says, "a hamburger." So I walk over to the store, grab a pound of ground beef, a package of buns, a little potato salad and as the Mets are hitting prepare us a couple of burgers.  We sit at the kitchen table and eat our dinner and Stan tells me about going to Seaver's almost perfect game in 1969. "and we had really good seats, behind the 3rd base line, I went with Stinky, Nicky and the head custodian for the district." Nicky and Stinky were custodians at my elementary school who I worked with when I had a summer job during high school. (Back then during the summer of  '69 they would get on the roof of the elementary school and throw all the rubber balls that we got stuck up there in the gutters playing stickball and while they threw down the balls they would throw buckets of water over our heads.) I ask Dad how his hamburger is and he loves it, what a perfect meal, just the right amount of food. Meanwhile Santana is working his way through the Cardinal lineup...

Stan was also telling me how my late Uncle Leo did embroidery and he would sell them to famous people. Uncle Leo once had the executive secretary for Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs come to Stan's Lunch to meet him so he could sell him an Embroidery he did of their logo. Stan was amazed, the guy actually paid Leo $500 for the embroidery.

Stan sat in his chair as Santana pitched through the 8th inning. We were counting pitches, wondering if Terry Collins, the manager would let him stay in the game. After throwing his 5th walk in the 8th inning, Collins ran out to the mound to check on Santana. They chatted for a second and Collins ran back to the dugout and retired the next 2 batters. Santana batted in the bottom of the 8th. He just stood there with the bat on his shoulder and watched the pitches go by him. Stan and I just sat and watched. Santana struck out, the next batter grounded out and it was the top of the 9th. Johan Santana took the mound, the first pitch was a fly out to center, the next batter fought off a few and it was a fly out to left and the last batter was David Freese, last year's World Series hero.  Santana throws him 3 balls and then 3 strikes later the ball game is over! After throwing 134 pitches Johan Santana had completed the first Mets no-hitter in their entire history!!!

Stan sat in his chair, with wet cheeks and tears in his eyes, and as the announcers exclaimed and announced and declared, tonight history has been made, Dad said to me, "Mark, it was a pleasure to watch this game with you. I'm glad we got to see this together."

And then all the post game stuff, the interviews, the highlights, the amazing catch by Mike Baxter, Beltran's fair ball called foul, this, that and the other thing, all the Mets beaming with joy, very beautiful, emotional and exciting.  And then Aunt Sylvia called, of course, she was thinking of Uncle Leo too, was watching the game with her son, my cousin, Kenny, and who else would she call, but Stan to share in the joy of Met's history.

Sports, the miracle of sports and how it connects us to each other...

Finally after watching about an hour of the post game Stan pooped out and I helped get him into bed. I kissed him goodnight and he said, "I'm happy we got to watch this game together. You'll always be able to say -"
"I watched the first Met's no-hitter with my old man."  Stan smiled and tried to remember where he was when the Mets won the World Series in 1969.  He thought maybe he was at the store. I figured I was at home watching on the t.v. in the den. Now that I think of it I bet Grandma Robin was there! I'll have to ask him tomorrow. Just the other day Howie was telling me how Grandpa told him the story of when he played hooky from school and went to Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play in a double header and when he called home to tell his mother what he was doing she said, now wait a minute, you're not going- without me!

Well, I kissed Dad on the forehead, tucked him in under the covers and headed home.  It doesn't get better than this....

No comments:

Post a Comment