Today’s All Star Game will be played at Citi Field in Queens, NY. Best known as the home of the NY Mets and the thing that isn’t a junk yard in Flushing, the stadiums opened it’s gates in 2009 so the Mets could disappoint their fans in more fan friendly venue.
Citi Field was built in the parking lot of the now defunct Shea Stadium, the home of the Mets from 1964 to 2008. She was named after William Shea, the man given the most credit for getting National League baseball back in New York after both The Giants and The Dodgers moved 3,000 miles away to California in 1958.
She was actually the Mets second home, as they played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds, the stadium the Giants played at. People seem to forget this a lot. Probably because the Mets played so poorly there. In fact, the 120 losses the Mets put up in 1926 remain the most any team has ever managed in MLB history.
Shea at the new stadium
Even though Shea isn’t the name of the stadium, you can still find the name inside. Among the retired numbers is the name “Shea” in honor of William Shea. Also, the bridge over bullpen in right field is named after Shea.
Citi Bank payed agreed record breaking 20 million a year for 20 years for the stadium to be called Citi Field. When this was announced, many fans were bummed the stadiums wasn’t going to be named after a former ballplayer or announcer.
After Citi was given a huge portion of the bailout money, even more became irate. Especially since Citi was still planning on paying the 20 million a year, despite declaring they were broke.
Two city councilmen wanted the stadium to be renamed taxpayer stadium, since, in affect, they were the ones who’d wind up footing the bill. Other declared that they would keep calling it Shea. Four years later I don’t hear anyone calling it anything but Citi Field.
The Long Island Railroad might be the one exception. They refused to rename their Shea Stadium train stop to Citi Field. Instead, after Shea was torn down, it became Mets-Willits Point.
Anyone who’s watched a Mets game in the last 30 years or so, know about the homerun apple.
The apple made it’s first appearance in 1980 as part of their advertising campaign “The Magic is Back”. Everytime a Met player would hit a home run a giant apple adorned with a Mets logo with pop out of a hat outside the centerfield fence. The magic was not back, as The Mets lost 95 games that year, and the slogan was ditched. The Apple stuck around though. The Apple remained in operation until Shea’s last day in 2008. It was saved from destruction, and is now of the parking lot of Citi Field.
In 2009 a new apple made it’s debut. At four times the size, apple 2.0 is still ready to alert fans to a home run in a way no other ballpark does. The Mets logo on the apple has been changed for the All Star game, so expect it to make an appearance if a National League player hit one out of the park.
Perhaps the biggest feature of Citi Field is the food. It has such big name NY restaurants like Shake Shack (burgers, fries, shakes), Blue Smoke (barbecue), El Verano Taqueria (Mexican cuisine), Catch of the Day (featuring seafood from chef Dave Pasternack of Esca) and Box Frites (Belgian French fries).
There’s also hot dogs and beer, if you want to be boring about it.
When originally built, Citi Field’s park dimensions made it very hard to hit home runs. At the start of the 2012 season some walls were moved in a shortened in make it easier to hit balls out of the park. Also, the wall was redone in blue, because they matched David Wrights eyes. Well, officially it was because Blue is a Mets color, but we know the truth here.
Good thing they changed it, or else last night’s home run derby probably would have been the first time someone won with a score of two.
You like the movie 42? So do the Mets. In the main entrance to the park is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It features a giant statue of Mr. Robinson, a giant number 42, quotes for the man on the walls, and even a couple of Robinson size foot prints you compare your own feet to.
It’s so beautiful it almost makes you forget Jackie Robinson never had anything to do with Mets.