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There is no good reason why I should care about the New York Mets.
Like all baseball teams, they are a business. I should care no more about their
success than I care about the success of a movie studio or television network. Yet I
choose to care, deeply and powerfully. I have cared about the Mets for 45 years and
probably will for the rest of my life. I enjoy my loyalty. I enjoy the irrationality and
intensity of my loyalty.
Although my allegiance is a choice, at a certain level, it is not. The Mets are part of
my heritage. My parents grew up as Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Three years after I was
born, their team was taken from them in a way that should have left them
permanently disillusioned with baseball. But they weren’t disillusioned when the
Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. They wanted baseball back and they wanted me to
have baseball, too. And they did not, under any circumstances, want me to have the
As my interest in baseball awakened during the summer of 1961, my parents
persuaded me to ignore the excitement of the race to break Babe Ruth's home run
record. They persuaded me to ignore the first World Series of which I was aware.
They persuaded me to wait to begin my lifelong love affair with baseball until the
summer of 1962, when there would be a new National League franchise in New York,
a team that would replace the Dodgers, a team that would represent the vast
remnant of the metropolitan area that refused to be represented by the team from
The central pleasure of my first year of fandom was rooting for a brand-new team. I
loved the novelty of the blue and orange colors, and the cool, contemporary brevity
of the name. I loved the logo, a baseball encompassing the skyscrapers and bridges
of New York. It was the only team logo that featured a city, and it was my city. I
don't remember minding that they were a very bad team, the worst in modern
baseball history. I loved them wildly and intemperately. Anything they accomplished
was good, and everything about them was part of me.
The Mets were bad for all of my childhood, but I never lost hope. I dreamed of them
winning the World Series the way I dreamed of winning a Nobel Prize, an Academy
Award or a presidential election.
Then came 1969, unforeseen and soul-filling, and neither I nor millions of others
have ever gotten over it. The Mets remained the Mets, ordinary people competing
against giants, yet they suddenly seemed to have magical powers. Everything
happened as I wanted it to happen, reliably, inexorably. The young pitchers were
perfect. The hitters hit when needed. Mediocre fielders made spectacular catches.
The Mets won game after game and did not stop.
For months, nearly every thought I had - every sweet, pleasurable thought - was of
them. It was like being in love. I was too young to perceive the absurdity, and
nowhere near old enough to value my emotion in spite of its absurdity. I simply
enjoyed, and I never will forget how much I enjoyed the summer of 1969.
For fans of my age, the summer of 1969 is the defining myth of the Mets.
Yankees fans have their myth: The Yankees are invincible, the team of Ruth and
Gehrig, the only team for whom a season is not a success if it yields only a pennant,
for whom a bad season is an anomaly. The myth is a crock, of course. The Yanks
have had plenty of mediocre seasons in the last 40 years.
The Mets' myth is the reverse. Mets fans tend to think of the Mets as a
fundamentally bad team that, every once in a while, briefly and magnificently rises up
to play against type. When the Mets win, the fans feel as if they themselves have
willed the team forward. We were the ones, with our slogans and signs, who took a
last-place team to a pennant in 1973. We were the ones who drove Mookie Wilson's
ball between Bill Buckner's legs in 1986. We were responsible for Al Leiter's
perfection in the one-game playoff against the Reds in 1999. And we made Shea
Stadium thunder in 2000, frightening the superior Cards and Giants into submission.
Yankees fans do not feel responsible for what the Yankees do. But Mets fans feel
that they create the atmosphere that allows miracles to happen. Mets fans live to be
a part of miracles. And fans who live for miracles don't need the odds on their side.
Mets fans don’t need or even ask for triumph. They want astonished fun, and the
mystical sense of power that a Yankees fan can't know. They want the pleasure of
the unexpected, even of the undeserved.
This is what has hooked us. This is what we long for. This is why, however much we
hate them at times, we love to love this team. However good the Yankees become,
they never tempt us. We are stubborn and resolute. We are millions. We are Mets
©Dana Brand 2006