Carolyn Hoera,54, a nursery schoolteacher from Garden City.
I was almost 14 years old in the Summer of '69, the daughter of a former-Giants-fan-turned-Mets-fan. We went to a few games per year at Shea (I think Dad even went to a few at the Polo Grounds), and usually sat in the top of the top - pinning up banners that said, "We Try Harder: We Have To," and "Let's Go Chico," whoever that was.
But that year, they had the phenomenal pitching of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, and defense from a fellow Franklin Square kid named Al Weis and the other little guy who was such a great shortstop, Bud Harrelson. With hitting from Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Ed Kranepool, well, they combined just enough hitting talent and luck to find themselves in a race to the finish, with magic numbers published in the paper after each game! To this day I can remember the almost nauseating excitement of that race down the stretch.
There were four other siblings, including my brother, but I was the only one who really caught the bug (some would say a disease) that had my father and me rooting for them game by torturous game. For the last home game of the season, they were playing the Cardinals, and if they won, they would clinch the division title. Somehow my dad got two tickets and he and I went. Around the sixth inning, he turned to me, the born worrywart, and announced that he had to leave for his second job and that I should stay and watch the rest of the game, rooting them on for the two of us, and then all I had to do to get home was take two subway trains and two buses! This, to the sheltered suburban kid! Nice.
The Mets won. The place went nuts! People rushed out of the stands and onto the field, tearing up the grass and grabbing the bases, jumping on each other, just screaming and screaming, hugging strangers. It was like a slow motion scene in a movie, and suddenly, we were in the playoffs! I got home OK.
My Dad went into hospice on the first day of the Mets' 2009 season. I saw him in his room, nice and comfortable and happy after listening to their win on the radio. We smiled at each other, knowing after these 40-plus years that magic doesn't happen often, and our boys can screw up in a variety of ways. (This season would have him disgusted, but resigned as usual.)
He died in April, and at his wake, with an orange Shea Stadium 40-years cap and a little Mets teddy bear in the coffin with him already, my oldest, my 26-year-old Mets-infected son, brought Dad's radio and played the game right next to him. They lost. We buried the radio with him, tuned to the game. . . . You never know, right?