I went out to Shea Stadium on Saturday, expecting to see the Mets play the Rangers. My parents, Lindsey, James, John and I were all decked out in our Mets gear (hats, tshirts, jerseys galore) and we took the train to the game. I’ve never been to a game with my parents, so I had been really looking forward to it. It was also a night game, which are sort of magical in a way I can’t really describe.
I’d checked the weather for Flushing yesterday morning, so I knew there was a 50% chance of thunderstorms from 7pm on. But what are you going to do? These tickets were a birthday gift for my dad, and it’s not like we’d let them go to waste. So we put on our most optimistic faces and tried to ignore the gray clouds we could see hovering over New York City as the train got closer.
One of the most fun things about the 7 train (other than the fact that it’s always jam-packed with other folks in Mets gear) is that it’s an elevated train, so you can watch Queens go by as you get closer to Shea. Or, in our case, you can marvel at the torrential downpours and say sheepishly to your family members, “Hey, there’s still an hour and a half until first pitch. And hey, doesn’t it look a bit like it’s clearing up over that way?” Once we got to Shea, we unraveled our raincoats and umbrellas and laughed as we dodged puddles, because it’s impossible not to feel a little swoony when you crane your neck and look up at Shea. Or when you glimpse their new stadium in person for the first time. Or maybe I’m just a little sentimental when it comes to baseball.
The tarp was covering the field when we found our seats, which were mercifully under the overhang of the upper deck. We watched the grounds crew remove the tarp… and put it right back down. We ate hot dogs and drank beer (and a cold beer in a humid stadium is the most refreshing thing ever, I don’t care what you say). We came up with theories about how they decide whether the game’s rained out or just delayed. We avoided talking about the fact that we might have come all this way to have to go home. As game time approached, the skies opened up and we heard a few rumbles of thunder. “Well,” we thought, “if it’s delayed, that wouldn’t be too bad. At least our seats aren’t out in the open.”
And just as things started to look like they were clearing up, and the grounds crew lined up to remove the tarp for real this time, a giant clap of thunder made our seats rattle and the skies opened up and our hopes were dashed. We watched the folks down in the open-air sections scramble toward the stairs for cover, and couldn’t help but notice that the field was starting to look a bit waterlogged. We started to quietly poll each other about when we should decide to leave, dreaded the long train ride home, and dejectedly realized that since this was an interleague game (aka the Mets aren’t going to be playing the Rangers again this season), it would be rescheduled for Sunday, and I was the only one of us who could have come back.
It was in that moment of total despair that the mood was lightened in a totally unexpected way. A handful of Under-Armor clad Rangers emerged from the visitors’ dugout and walked out into the downpour. “Are they really…?” “No, it can’t be possible.” “What are you doing? Get your camera out!!!!!” And those Texas Rangers ran out onto the tarp covering the infield and proceeded to use it as a giant Slip-N-Slide. The crowd erupted, and it was a pretty amazing moment. Of course, I was scrambling with lenses, trying to swiftly switch out to my dad’s zoom lens so I could get some proper photos. The Rangers took their bows, returned to the dugout… and a few minutes later, came back for more, this time with more of their teammates. Sure, I didn’t see any Mets except for Travis, the batboy, but the moment of pure, unadulterated childhood glee left us smiling, even as we donned our raincoats for the long walk back to the subway platform for a standing-room-only 7 train home. Also, they announced that our tickets could be exchanged for any other game at Shea this season. So even though we went home, not having seen a minute of baseball, we’ll be going back.
It’s not without a bit of bitterness that I watch the doubleheader today, though. It looks like a beautiful day at Shea, and it’s just so unfair. Oh well. Like John said, it’s bound to happen that we go to at least one game in our lifetimes that gets rained out, so better to get it over with. And hey, I got a replica of Shea. So at least there’s that. And the fact that barring all of the gloom, it was a fun day with the family.