PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Mets have been hosting the families of slain NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos this weekend. Ramos' teenage sons, Justin and Jaden, have been a presence, hanging out and meeting players.
For much of it, they have been trailed by cameras and reporters.
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But when Michael Cuddyer spotted the two in a hallway off to the side of the main clubhouse, he sensed an opportunity.
Cuddyer has been performing card tricks since he was 11. He counts Brooklyn native David Blaine as his favorite magician, mostly because of his up-close-and-personal performance style.
"There's no fancy props, no stage," Cuddyer said. "He walks up to you with a deck of cards."
On Saturday morning, Cuddyer channeled Blaine, retrieving a deck of cards before staging an impromptu show for Ramos' sons. There were no cameras and no reporters for this performance.
An audience quickly formed anyway. Shortstop Ruben Tejada happened upon the scene and stayed, as did the Mets' clubhouse attendants, who let their duties slide for a few moments.
This was no small thing. The clubhouse in the morning is a busy place, especially on days when there are split-squad games. While half the room is getting dressed for pregame workouts, the other half is packing up for a bus ride.
In the middle of it all are the scurrying attendants, who are tasked with keeping everything straight in the midst of the chaos.
For a few minutes Saturday morning, though, for the benefit of a couple of people who needed it, a corner of the Mets' clubhouse stood still for a little bit of magic.
"We just want to express our gratitude for everything," Justin Ramos said later in the day.
The night before, David Wright helped host a dinner for the families.
"Every five minutes, I'm like, 'I'm having dinner with David Wright,' " Justin Ramos said. "That definitely was a surreal moment for me."
In the afternoon, the Ramos family stood alongside the Liu family, and the latter was presented a Mets jersey by chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon. Liu's widow, Pei Xia Chen, accepted the gift.
"We'll always remember that we had a wonderful time," she said as she fought off tears.