It was Sunday, September 4, 1988, right smack in the middle of Labor Day weekend. My wife Nancy and I had tickets to the Mets/Dodgers game on that day. The weather forecast called for rain, but since we had already lined up a babysitter for our children, aged four and seven, we decided to give it a go. The rain began to fall right about the time we crossed the George Washington Bridge.
“Do you think that we should turn around?” Nancy asked.
“Not yet,” I answered. “We’re almost there, and besides, we already have a babysitter and everything. Let’s give it our best shot.”
There really wasn’t an ‘and everything’ to speak of. We had a babysitter. We were going to the Mets game. That’s basically it.
We got to the parking lot and ran between the raindrops into the stadium. I remember the ticket taker smiling knowingly at me as if to say, “If you’re here in this weather, you must have a babysitter.”
Our seats were located out in the pouring rain. I asked an usher if we could move up to the dry seats. He just shrugged his shoulders. As we were climbing up the steps, I swear I heard him say, “If you’re here in this weather, you must have a babysitter.”
I looked back but he was gone.
We sat there for an hour, watching the rain pummel the tarp on the infield as the outfield water began to collect and form puddles. I noticed a bus backing up through the players parking lot next to the Mets’ bullpen. The team was hitting the road after today’s game, so I figured that this activity meant the game was about to be called on account of rain. I decided there was still time to try to make something of the day, so I said, “Why don’t we try to find the new Mets Hall of Fame?” Nancy was tired of being wet from the blowing rain as well as the water cascading down the stadium steps, so we got up and both headed for an exit.
“Maybe we should just go,” she said, her wet shoes squeaking as she walked.
The voice in the back of my mind immediately began screaming, “Don’t go! We have a babysitter!” However, I chose to take a humorous approach with a Bill Murray line from the movie Caddyshack, “I don’t think the hard stuff’s coming for a while.” Although I didn’t see it, I believe that I heard her roll her eyes at me.
We found our way to the press level and made a left and a right and another left until I found the exact spot that I always seem to find in times like these: Lost!
“Are you sure you know where you are going?” Nancy asked. “Why don’t we try to find someone that we can ask for directions?”
I wouldn’t even qualify that question with an answer. Real men don’t ask for directions. Besides, I was pretty sure that we had already passed into an area where we didn’t belong. We forged ahead with another few more turns, hoping to find our way out before we were arrested for trespassing.
At this point, I saw someone coming down the narrow corridor from the other direction. Luckily, it wasn’t a policeman. It was none other than long time New York Mets announcer Bob Murphy. He gave us a smile and a nod, acknowledging us as fans but also indicating that he had somewhere to go.
“Do you think we are going to play baseball today, Bob?” Nancy asked as Murphy passed us in the close quarters of the hallway.
“Well, little lady, it’s raining awfully hard,” Bob Murphy said, “and there’s an awful lot of water on the field. I’d have to say that it doesn’t look good for today.”
Murphy disappeared behind a door.
Suddenly, a security guard was heading our way, waving his hands and shouting to get our attention. My go-to reaction to troubled situations was to play stupid. Somehow, it’s always been believable. This time I merely told the truth. We were looking for the Mets Hall of Fame and got lost in the catacombs of the Shea press level. The guard told us that the game has been rained out, the Hall of Fame was closed, and he sent us towards the exit.
“I wish I had more time to talk to Bob Murphy,” I said as we headed outside.
“Were you planning to ask for a happy recap of his men’s room visit? That’s where he was headed.” Nancy said. I hate it when she has better jokes than me.
We exchanged our rainchecks for the game of September 22 and got to see the Mets clinch the 1988 National League Eastern Division Pennant. That was an exciting and electrical night, one that I’ll never soon forget. It’s my second favorite New York Mets Shea Stadium experience of all time.
My first is meeting Bob Murphy.