Here is my account of the events at the Willets Points subway stop mass transit meltdown in the immediate aftermath of the MLB Home Run Derby:
I exited Citi Field approximately 10 minutes after the conclusion of the Derby, and encountered masses of people walking up the steps of the subway station, as one would expect after a sold-out event at the stadium.
But the closer I got to the top, the more I noticed people walking down the steps in the other direction, warning those of us still rising that the 7 train was not running.
At first I thought it was a cruel prank, what with the city having warned fans for weeks that mass transit would be the way to go for All-Star festivities, with many visitors unfamiliar with the city and the subway system in the crowd and the steamy weather leaving everyone more on edge than usual.
Alas, it was no joke. An announcement over the p.a. system advised there was an investigation – by the FDNY, as it turned out – at the 103rd Street station, two stops down from Citi Field on the 7 train.
The announcement advised people how to take some bus or another to Penn Station, which mostly elicited laughs.
As thousands milled around the subway steps, unsure what to do, thousands of others started heading toward the LIRR station near the stadium. Some had tickets already. Others lined up 20 or 30 deep in an attempt to buy them.
I got into a swarm of people attempting to make their way to the tracks. Yes, I should have taken a picture with my iPhone but I am old and sometimes forget I have an instant camera in my pocket.
LIRR officials did their best to keep everyone calm and informed, which was not easy. I noticed as I neared the conductor in the front of the line that he was checking tickets. I did not have one, as I arrived in Queens via the late, lamented 7 train. But just as I approached him ready to try to talk my way in, he let me through, perhaps overwhelmed by the desperate masses.
Once on the platform I joined other people who had attended the Derby in a packed car which nonetheless quickly and efficiently conveyed a large number of people to Penn Station, leaving behind our poor 7 train brothers and sisters.
Perhaps I should have stayed with the displaced 7 trainers to continue monitoring the situation, but as a Newsday reporter I figured I might as well see what was going on at the LIRR station.
And as a human being I figured getting home before 3 a.m. would be a bonus.
I trust there will be much fallout from this extraordinarily unfortunate turn of events. I just hope the 7 train is running by now. Or soon.
Memo to self: Drive to Citi Field Tuesday.