Another in the series of essays honoring the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets:
I often get asked, when people find out that I’m from New York, if I’m a Yankee fan.
“No,” I answer, “I’m a Mets fan. There are two teams in New York, you know.”
Then comes the follow-up question: “Why?”
Some even phrase it “How?” as in “How did you become a Mets fan?” It’s often asked with same intonation and inflection as “How did you get that weird growth right in the middle of your forehead?” (From banging my head on the wall as a Mets fan). “How do you do it?” they wonder. “How do you choose?”
And of course they wonder, “Why the Mets, for the love of God? Why the team with two titles instead of the team that’s on the cusp of thirty championships, the most successful sports franchise in the world?”
Of course, these questions rely on a certain flawed assumption, that I had a choice. I didn’t. I was born this way. I was born a Mets fan. The same way I was born a male, born with brown eyes and a German last name into a predominantly Irish family. I was born into a Mets family. I see in my nieces and nephews the same indoctrination into the faith that I must’ve gone through as a child. I wasn’t asked which team I loved anymore than I was asked how I felt about gravity. I’m not conscious of making a choice. I wasn’t aware that was another option.
The ultimate responsibility lies, I’m told, with my grandfathers: Loehfelm on one side, Murphy on the other, Brooklyn Dodger fans both. There is a direct throughline from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the Mets. Most Mets fans are descended from Dodger fans. On a recent edition of THE DAILY SHOW, a guest asked John Stewart if he rooted for the the Yankees or the the Mets. His response: “My grandfather was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, so Mets all the way.”
The Mets came into the league in 1962, a single team to replace not only the beloved Dem Bums of Brooklyn, but also the New York Giants, who had departed on the heels of the Dodgers for the foggy hills of San Francisco. As a tribute to their forefathers, the Mets took one color from each team as their own: blue from Brooklyn and orange from the Giants. When the Mets replaced Shea Stadium with Citi Field, the new place was consciously designed to recall Ebbet’s Field, the old Flatbush home of the Dodgers. Ebbet’s was demolished in 1960, several years after the Dodgers left for LA and more parking spaces after the 1957 season. The site of the old stadium is now home to the Jackie Robinson apartments.
Dodger fans in particular, because they had in the Forties and Fifties suffered so brutally and so often at the hands of the Yankees, especially in the World Series, had found it simply inconceivable to shift their loyalties to what was for seven years, the only game in town if the game was baseball. A transfer of loyalty to California was out of the question as well. Grandpa Murphy (probably like a lot of Grandpa Murphy’s in New York) hated the LA Dodgers until the day he died. I’m not a fan of theirs, either. Family tradition.