When the Mets Cared About the Fans: Opening Day 1983

openingday_baseballA friend called yesterday asking if my wife, Terri, and I wanted to go with them to Opening Day on Monday. The fact is I had been waffling for weeks over whether to go. The Wilpons jacked the ticket prices up to the sky for the game, and I am in year two of my post-Reyes life. This is a life where I make no upfront commitments to the Wilpons and go to games when it fits. Often I find good seats on Stubhub for 20% of face value. In that case everyone wins. The poor soul who had the tickets and can no longer attend gets something, and I get good seats at an excellent price. Better yet, I do not increase Fred, Jeff, and Saul’s tickets sold. Boycotting the park is something I can’t do. I hate the owners but love the team. So, I compromise.

Anyway, that is the thing, I love the team. I love the game. I love the feel of being inside a stadium, and Opening Day is a day for hope, a day for dreams. I love hope, I love dreams. I’m a romantic. So, I said, “Yes, we would love to go.”

Now, it’s been a long slog around here since R.A. Dickey ended 2012 with a special day for himself and the fans. Hurricane Sandy came shortly after, leaving some minor damage to my property. I lived without power for three weeks. Yet when I slowly became reconnected to society, I found out I was a lucky one. Sandy was a disaster and some start to the offseason. A long cold winter has followed; it was still freezing cold downtown yesterday.

But now my blood has started pumping a little harder again, it’s starting to feel real again. Opening Day is a few days away! And then the memories of other Opening Days started popping into my head. There is one in particular I think about often. It was in 1983.

Funny thing about 1983. The team was still not very good yet. In fact, the team was bad. In 1982 the Mets won only 65 games and when you looked at the Opening Day roster for 1983 it didn’t look considerably better. Despite that, Opening Day in 1983 drew 46,687 fans to Shea Stadium. It was an event. It was the return of “the Franchise.” On April 5, 1983 the exile of Tom Seaver was over. And my buddy Billy, working for the Daily News at the time, had scored field level seats down the right field line.

I could go use the Internet to get all the facts I need about that game. I could lie and act like I remember everything that happened after the first pitch. But it would be a lie, the memory of the game is hazy and comes down to this – Seaver pitched great, six shutout innings. A guy named Doug Sisk pitched three excellent innings in relief, and the Mets won. It’s not the game itself, exactly, that was so special to me that day. It was “the walk” and the message.

“The walk” was the walk Seaver made from the bullpen before the game.  The crowd roared, “the Franchise” was back. With this move a message had been sent by our owner Nelson Doubleday. We care about you, the fans, our customers. It was a message we needed, and Tom was a wonderful tonic the beginning of that year while we waited for Strawberry and Keith to arrive.

So a tip of my hat to Nelson Doubleday who understood that winning is the best thing but not the only thing. Because it is not. At a time in our team’s history where we needed to be patient, Doubleday spent money on an aging pitcher who would not be around to help the team when it would contend again.

For the fans, the customers.

Seaver returns

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8 comments

  1. eric says:

    Pardon the RAMBLE to follow—I need to VENT:

    This FO is speculated to be “Trading Non-Core Prospects”… The Major Leagues are filled with “Secondary Prospects” who blossomed—- Marco Scutaro is one who passed through the Mets System.

    I understand placing some Vets on this team—especially if the strategy is to build value and trade—- but the MARLON BYRDS of this world are never getting traded for more than someone elses “Secondary Propspect”—the same NON CORE guys you’re looking to trade?

    So….Marlon Byrd will stay on this 75 win team and a 25 year old BALLPLAYER who has not yet/may never blossom is cast off…and for WHAT exactly?… another Marlon Byrd???

    Marlon Byrd makes sense if you’re competing and despecrate to fill ONE spot—ONE. He is Nothing More Than an OLD Major League Baseball Card in an Empty Outfield. He makes NO DIFFERENCE to any outcome for this team.

    This makes NO SENSE!!!!… This si NOT a plan. The laundry list of “non-cores” has a player or two who WILL establish value as a player here or as a trade asset. These guys aren’t being traded to rebalance or get new talent—they are being traded to Keep Marlin Byrd…..

    …They Are Being Traded To Keep Marlin Byrd!!!!!!!!!
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  2. Michael Geus says:

    Another way of looking at that is that if we promoted our core catching prospect and cut dreck like Recker we would have one more spot open on the 40 man. I said this on another site I will repeat it on ours. If you hoard prospects and never promote them you will end up with a 40 man roster problem. It is called basic math.

  3. I, too, remember feeling how great it was to have Seaver back. I didn’t care what it meant for the future, one way or another. I was just glad that he was back where he belonged, if only for a season.

  4. Eric says:

    Well thought Mike

  5. Matt says:

    I was at that game sitting in the upper deck in RF. watching Tom Seaver from under us walking to the mound. What a special moment for the greatest Met ever. What a huge ovation! Shea never rocked like that….. Until 1986. Thanks to the idiot with the Daily News and clown Met GM Grant he was forced out. Remember Tom all choked up and couldn’t complete the interview. You know looking back it was good for Tom. Had he stayed with the Mets for the second half of ’77 through ’82 season he would never had son enough games to make 300 wins in his career, not with those terrible Met teams. What added insult to injury was leaving him unprotected at the end of the season. Seaver pitched well in ’83 winning 11 games for a team that still wasn’t quite competitive. In don’t remember any interview with Seaver prior to his second exit from the Mets. In wouldn’t have blamed him for a second to just outright call the Mets asses. He went to White Sox and won his 300th game for them against the Yankees. He finished his career sitting on the bench injured for the Red Sox watching the Mets win the Wod Series. Damn the the Sox should have let him sit in the Mrts dugout. Lol through it all a great HOF and the Mets Franchise. After the Mets retired his number 41 and the HOF voted him in his first year of eligibility with the highest percentage ever received. Tom did announcing for the Mets. I don’t know why he stopped broadcasting for the Mets and broadcasted some for the Yankees ?? WTF!?!

  6. There’s no great, definitive Seaver biography, is there?

    It’s due. He’s a prickly pear.

  7. [...] recall, also, in that same year Cashen picked up an aging fan favorite, George Thomas Seaver. He did it for the fans, or perhaps for the turn styles, in the end it’s the same thing, [...]

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