As sad as it is, it’s time to say goodbye to the old Shea Stadium after 44 years of sports memories for all of us. It hardly seems possible that the Mets were an expansion team all these years after their cross-town American League rivals first took the field. It’s also hard to remember the stadium being called the Flushing Meadow Park Municipal Stadium, but that’s what it called until a movement was launched to name it in honor of William Shea.
Throughout its history, Shea Stadium has housed some of the greatest names in baseball ever to appear on a baseball roster. Duke Snider, Nolan Ryan, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Richie Ashburn, and Gary Carter all made it to the baseball Hall of Fame. Other players, just as entertaining if not as famous, like Lenny “Nails” Dykstra and Gil Hodges that just gritted it out from day to day are also remembered with fondness.
There’s been good times and bad, ugly and outrageous, but at the end of the day, they are all great memories intertwined with the stadium’s history. We watched Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry take the Mets to a World Series win over the Boston Red Sox in 1986. Unfortunately, the fame took its toll as both players spent the rest of their careers dealing with drug issues and other problems.
In 1969 we saw the Amazin’ Mets win their first Championship when no one really knew of the young Nolan Ryan who would spend the next 27 years earning the record of the player who struck out 5,714 batters. Remarkable moments like these abound throughout the history of Shea Stadium; in fact, one could literally write a book about the colorful and extraordinary events. And although a new chapter in the stadium’s history begins, those special memories of the past will live in the hearts of Mets’ fans around the world for eternity.
After the tragic and shocking events of 9/11, Shea Stadium became the central hub for supplies, food and a place of refuge for many 9/11 victims. On September 21, the Mets helped New Yorkers to heal by providing the first sporting event to be held after that tragic day. New Yorkers will tell you it was one of the most stirring nights ever in baseball history. With tens of thousands of fans packing the stadium to watch the Mets take on the Braves, the team honored New York’s finest, those brave men and women who worked tirelessly to help the 9/11 victims, and then went on to play a great game. Shea Stadium is truly a place like no other. It will always be remembered with fondness and with the eager anticipation of another 50 years of baseball history.