Mets and Celtic

I was born in 1970, grew up in a working class neighborhood called Jackson Heights Queens. Jackson Heights at the time was going through a dramatic change as far the people living in the area.

It was once a heavily Jewish, Irish and German area. Mostly made up of second & third generation Americans. But in the 1970’s it started to change, the people now arriving were immigrants. Mostly from South America, with Colombians, Ecuadorians and Bolivians. You also had Europeans arriving, with the Irish, Yugoslavians and Greeks leading that pack. Jackson Heights also had a large British ex pat population. Made up of people from places like Liverpool, London, Manchester & Glasgow. Just like my folks who were from Glasgow {Dad} & Leeds {Mom} Now most of these people came from an Irish background, so naturally they tended to hang around with the Irish born.

But as kids, we didn’t give 2 shits about any of that. All we wanted to do was “play ball”, didn’t matter if it was “soccer” or the 15 different variations on baseball that we played.

Now at this time, we’re talking mid 70’s, we had 2 teams in NYC. The Yankees from the Bronx and the Mets from Queens. The Mets had won the World Series the year before I was born and then made it to the World Series again in 1973 & lost to the Oakland A’s.

Now by 1976 I didn’t really watch much baseball on TV, I played punchball and stickball, and would only watch if my Dad had the game on. Around late June of 1976 my Dad asked me if I would want to go Shea Stadium with him and great family friend Henry Ferguson. Henry was from Coatbridge and a huge Celtic fan like my Dad. But Henry was also a die hard Mets fan, he became one when he moved to Woodside Queens in the early 1960’s. Henry wanted to make sure I grew up a Mets fan, he loved this team with the same passion he did Celtic. Now my Dad was a Mets fan, but not to the same extent of Henry. My father would say “I cannae be a Yankee supporter, they’re tae much of the establishment team, just like the huns” {Glasgow Rangers}. So off I go to see the Mets play the Chicago Cubs, taking the 7 train just 5 stops to Shea Stadium. Man I was in for a treat, the Mets ended up beating the Cubs in the 10th inning. Cubs tied it in the 9th. But it was that day that I got to see the greatest pitcher of that era of the Franchise, Mr Tom Seaver. The crowd was electric. Every strikeout was a chance to jump up and cheer. So that was it, I was cemented as a Mets fan for life.

Later in life I would read NY writers like Jimmy Breslin and Roger Angell, these guys would write about the Mets and us fans, how it made no sense to be a Yankee fan if you were working class. I have great friends who are Yankee fans, people who I consider to be like family. But I still can’t see the attachment to a team like them.

Jimmy Breslin “You see, the Mets are losers, just like nearly everybody else in life. This is the team for the cab driver who gets held up and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn’t maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough. It is the team for every guy who has to get out of bed in the morning and go to work for short money on a job he does not like. The Yankees? Who does well enough to root for them, Laurence Rockefeller?” – Jimmy Breslin

Roger Angell “This was a new recognition that perfection is admirable but a trifle inhuman, and that a stumbling kind of semi-success can be much more warming. Most of all, perhaps, these exultant yells for the Mets were also yells for ourselves, and came from a wry, half-understood recognition that there is more Met than Yankee in every one of us. I knew for whom that foghorn blew; it blew for me.” – Roger Angell, The Summer Game.

Coming from that working class background, being the son of immigrants it was a no brainer for me.  So for this man, there really is only one baseball team to root for for in New York.

Frankie  (twitter @Frankiebhoymets and for podcast updates @MetsBhoys)

 

 

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