Shea No More: Historic Home of Mets Officially Rests in Ruins
At 11:25 this morning, Shea Stadium was officially no more, gone from the view of drivers on Queens' Whitestone Expressway, but hardly forgotten from the memories of Mets fans who spent the last 46 years passing through its gates.
As baseball continues to go through some difficult times, watching Shea come down once and for all was a bittersweet sight for this Mets fan, who spent the better part of the last 15 years from April through September (with an occasional October mixed in) inside its uniquely charming, yet aesthetically unappealing walls.
That was the essence of Shea, though, wasn't it?
Sure, it wasn't the most attractive of ballparks and hardly had the winning history of our bitter crosstown rivals, but it was our home, for better or worse.
When it opened in '64 it was the backdrop of National League baseball returning to New York after the Giants and Dodgers skipped town and headed for greener pastures in California.
With Casey Stengel at the helm, the Mets were lovable losers, and remained such until their miracle season of 1969.
A National League pennant in 1973 had the team on the verge of a second championship, however their loss to Oakland sent them into an abyss which would last until the mid-1980s, when Shea would once again be rocking and the Mets would once again become the kings of New York.
Yes, in 1986 the bad guys may have won, but Shea was the place to be.
Another trip to the World Series fell short in 1988 when the Dodgers and future Met Orel Hershiser got in their way.
Another pennant in 2000 brought a Subway Series and the spotlight of the sports world on New York City and though the Yankees would take the series in five, the Mets mattered, thanks in large part to their new face of the franchise, Mike Piazza.
The last decade has seen its up and downs—a runaway NL East crown in 2006, which was followed up by heartbreaking defeat in the NLCS to St. Louis and then was only outdone by back-to-back September collapses in which the Mets failed to clinch a playoff berth despite late-season leads.
In Shea's finale, the team had a collection of its historic greats "Shea Goodbye" following a crushing defeat to Florida that signaled the end of the 2008 season and the end of baseball at Shea Stadium.
Shea was known for more than sports, as it was the host of the first ever stadium concert put on by none other than The Beatles, and also saw acts like The Rolling Stones, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel.
Speaking of firsts, perhaps no first was as emotionally significant than the first sporting event to be played in New York after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, when Shea Stadium was the scene for baseball triumphantly returning to give New Yorkers a reason to smile again.
Mike Piazza's eighth inning go-ahead home run against the Braves was as memorable a moment as any in the 46 year history of the stadium.
For all of its highs and lows, Shea saw it all, from rock and roll greats to world championship heroes (and lets not forget the New York Jets still called Shea home when they won their only Super Bowl in 1969).
And now, the place that Mets fans like myself called home for so long is no more, a pile of rubble that will soon be removed to make space for a parking lot next to Citi Field.
If the Mets go on to win a championship next season, it'll certainly make the transition easier.
Until then, its going to be hard making that drive to LaGuardia, sitting in traffic as I get on the Grand Central and coming to grips with the reality that the 46-year home of the Mets no longer exists.
Shea it ain't so.
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