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Massapequa Little Leaguers visit Citi Field, meet the Mets, Victor Cruz
Fifty-four Massapequa Little Leaguers were trying on batting helmets while pretending to make calls to the bullpen from inside the Mets dugout on Wednesday.
And then the fun started.
They walked out on the field and watched a video on the Jumbotron that featured Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese, second baseman Daniel Murphy and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
When it concluded, all three professional athletes appeared on the field.
“They were really surprised,” Niese said.
Frosted Flakes staged the encounter as part of its first “Show Your Stripes Day.”
They invited members of the Massapequa Coast Little League along with Little Leaguers from Levittown -- Pennsylvania, that is -- to stress the point that sports should be fun.
“People kind of forget it’s still a game,” Niese said. “A lot of high school kids, all they worry about is getting to the next level rather than enjoying their teammates and the game they are playing at the present time.”
Niese and Murphy shared cheers and chants they learned with their teammates as little kids. They also talked about how the Mets have fun on and off the field.
“The Mets pull pranks on each other,” said Sean Sawter, 12, of Massapequa. “It was kind of fun to learn that stuff.”
Murphy said he and Niese are often trying to prank David Wright, the team’s captain.
“David can be hard to get, though,” Murphy said. “He has resources.”
The kids also heard from Cruz, who is famous for his salsa dancing. He talked about how kids should have fun without “showboating.”
“I explained to them that every time they are out there on the field … be excited to play and always do it for yourself,” Cruz said.
The Super Bowl champion also signed autographs and fielded questions from the kids from how fast he could run to how many homes he owned. But it was his shoe collection that impressed many of them.
“Victor Cruz has 500 shoes,” said John Giorgio, 12, of Massapequa.
Fellow Massapequa resident Johnny Consenza, 11, said Cruz signed one of his sneakers and also calmed his nerves about playing football.
“I asked him if it’s hard to play football,” said Johnny, who is signing up for his first team this week. “He said, ‘You just have to know your plays.’ ”
Each kid at Citi Field also walked up to home plate and took a few swings while an entrance song of their choice played. Meanwhile, a live video feed of each kid at bat appeared on the Jumbotron.
“They called my name and it was very exciting,” Johnny added.
The boys said they planned to put some of the cheers, handshakes and dance moves they learned from the pro athletes to good use. And Niese said he and Murphy also got some ideas from the boys, too.
He said one kid described a celebratory move his baseball team does when a player hits a home run. They gather at home plate, the batter rolls his helmet like a bowling ball toward them and then they all fall down like pins.
Niese added, “We might have to try that one out, especially on a walk-off home run.”