It would be fair to say my first vivid memory of the New York Mets, as a fan, happened 25 years ago today. On a Saturday afternoon, as a six-year-old, I watched Lenny Dykstra’s game-winning home run next to my father. As I recounted in my book, Taking the Field, my father proceeded to dance in celebration, singing “The Mexican Hat Dance” as he did so. We then took a trip to the Camden County Library’s book sale, where I loaded up on baseball books, with a pile that reached nearly to my eyes. I’d guess that’s how my link between baseball and writing about baseball formed.
This morning, I started re-watching the game with my 18-month-old daughter, Mirabelle. She’s certainly picked up the game earlier than I did. Recently, at a frozen yogurt shop, while holding my daughter, I had the following exchange with the woman behind the counter:
WOMAN: Can she say Mommy and Daddy?
ME: You know the New York Mets?
WOMAN (uncertainly): Yes.
ME: Mirabelle, who’s the Mets catcher. Josh…
She can actually do this for the entire makeshift starting lineup from September (Justin… Turner!), and starts to sing “Jose, Jose Jose Jose” when I say the word “shortstop”. No one can quite figure out if this is adorable, or signs that I’m successfully brainwashing my daughter in an unholy way.
To which I respond: can’t it be both?
But all I’m really doing here is laying the groundwork. No, we won’t be watching any postseason games this year involving the Mets. But by the time we do, I’m hoping she’ll manage to experience the same level of excitement about them that I did when I was six years old, and truth be told, that I’d feel today at age 31. We’ll certainly be watching with my father when that happens. I’m going to assume, when it does, that he will dance again, and this time, so will she.