Monday, May 12, 2008

Beat the Mets - Chronicles of my Final Shea Stadium Visit

Waking up early on a Saturday morning is not usually a fun activity. However, this past Saturday I woke up feeling fresh and ready for a day filled with baseball, an all-you-can-eat buffet, and seeing Ken Griffey Jr. play for the first time in over a decade - all of this in my final lifetime trip to lowly Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows Queens. This is the final season at Shea, which has been home to the Mets (and was home to the Jets as well) since 1964. As I got off the endless (always local) #7 train at the Willets Ave. Shea Stadium stop, the first thing I noticed was the monstrous construction of the new Citi Field (don't call it Shitty Field!) in the old parking lot behind left field. The new facility, set to open in 2009 and right on budget, is being built to look like a replica of the old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers played prior to moving to Los Angeles. Citi Field is much further along than the new Yankee Stadium that is also set to open its doors for Opening Day '09. As I entered the stadium, my friend and I hit the Diamond Club for our 12pm buffet reservation (I was much more excited for the food than for the game!). For $37.99, the Diamond Club boasts a very impressive display, with an array or hot bars along with separate stations for omelets, crepes and ice cream sundaes along with the "old reliable" carving station. As I stuffed my face for over an hour with a myriad of meats, cheeses and breads (salad is for the weak!), I prepared myself for game time. Final step of preparation involved what I like to call a P.S. or a "Pocket Sandwich." I stuffed a long, thin baguette roll with a mix of pepperoni, multiple hams and completed it with some cubed cheddar before rolling it up a cloth napkin (from the table next to me) and putting it in my pocket for when hunger returns come game time (shockingly enough, I was so full from the buffet that the P.S. made it home with me and sat in my fridge over night before I devoured it the next morning). Once the game began, Johan Santana took the hill for the Metropolitans and got hit pretty hard in spite of earning the win (gave up a career high 10 hits over 6 innings). In total, we saw 18 runs (Mets won 12-6), Griffey play right field, Dusty Baker come out to argue a call / show off his new red wristbands, and the oh-so-eventful Brian Schneider first career home run as a Met. While the game was much more exciting than I ever imagined, I was truly enthralled by one of Shea Stadium's most hard-working employees, a 79-year-old usher by the name of Harry Gluckfarb. An obvious fan of the club and retiree, Gluckfarb's ushering execution was second to none. For the first three innings, when the final out was made, Gluckfarb got his fat ass up out of his seat, stood up and either crossed his arms or held his hands behind his back. As soon as the next inning began, he would immediately sit back down in his seat. In total, I saw him speak to three total fans, offering zero assistance to find their seat locations. After the third inning and prior to his mid-day nap, Gluckfarb was getting tired and decided not to stand anymore. At the beginning of the 6th inning I noticed Harry was gone and assumed his was napping somewhere in the stadium. Just as this thought went through my mind, out came Gluckfarb in a snazzy blue Mets STAFF jacket (it was obvious that after that much sitting, Harry was feeling a bit chilly!). Every major league organization needs a Harry Gluckfarb and for his supreme efforts in laziness and inner-ear quantity, Ricky Vaughn 99 proudly proclaims May 10, 2008 as Harry Gluckfarb Day!

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