Monday, March 14, 2011

A Random Happy Memory

Memory is a notorious liar. I cannot vouch for the factual accuracy of what you are about to read. But I can assure you that it is 100% true, emotionally.

During college my friend Adam used to a have a big party at his house in North Jersey every summer. These parties were always a lot of fun and our group of friends would come from wherever we were spending our summers to be there for the blowout. It was a given that none of us would drive home after the party. We would crash where we fell and get up and have a big ole breakfast in the morning before spiraling away again back to summer jobs and internships.

The party Adam hosted in Ledgewood the summer of 1986 was different. Actually, the party itself was no different from the other years’ parties. It was what we did the day after the party that made it different and makes me remember it fondly even 25 years later.

There were four or five of us still at Adam’s at noon and we were having such a good time with each other we were reluctant to get into our cars and go our separate ways. Someone said, “Let’s go see the Mets,” and that was all it took. We piled into one car and got on I-80 heading east.

As we neared Shea we heard on the radio that the game was sold out—it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and Dwight Gooden was starting for the Mets. The game was NBC’s Game of the Week and had a national tv audience. Gooden was 21 years old and already had 50 major league wins. He was an amazing athlete in his prime and everyone wanted to see him. Instead of turning around we kept on, thinking maybe we could get tickets from a scalper.

It became clear at the stadium that this scalper plan was not going to happen. The tickets were way out of our price range. So we tried one last strategy. We approached a stadium employee near the elevators that led to the executive offices at Shea. We asked him to call upstairs to our friend Dave’s dad, Mr. O’Shaughnessy. It took one phone call and five minutes and Mr. O’Shaughnessy came out of the elevator with tickets in his hand.

We were ecstatic. Biggest game of the year so far and we were going to see it! We asked an usher where to go to get to our seats and to our utter amazement and delight he took us to a section immediately behind homeplate at field level. These were the best seats in the house. From where we sat we could look into Dwight Gooden’s eyes as he stared in for the signal from catcher Gary Carter. I can’t remember who won that game against the Reds. But I do remember it was a sunny summer day and there was not one thing wrong with the world for several hours.

I don’t know which of us had the idea to go to the Mets’ game instead of heading home, but I do know that Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s generosity is why I still remember that day 25 years ago. He didn’t have to do what he did for us that day. It would have been easy to pretend he wasn’t in or to tell us there were no tickets, even for him. But he didn’t. He probably does not remember that day, which is fine. There is no real reason for it to stand out. But it gave me enormous pleasure when it happened. And it continues to make me smile each time I have thought about it in the 25 years since.

Thanks, Mr. O’Shaughnessy.

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