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All 'Decked Out

So I hear that Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling will be broadcasting from upper deck seats during Thursday's Mets-Nationals game. Gary requested that they do a game from the spot where he spent his younger days learning about the Mets.

I like it, because it brings back memories of my years "broadcasting" from Shea's highest level. From 1992 to 1996, I was a "regular," usually somewhere around Section 3 Row S, honing my skills, with aspirations of becoming the next voice of the Mets/Knicks.

I'm not the only one to have done this. I've heard Howie Rose tell stories of similar practice, both at Mets and Rangers games and it's worked out pretty well for him. And though I'm not the voice of the Mets/Knicks, it's worked out pretty well for me too.

Unfortunately, during my years of calling maybe 50-or-so games (a glutton for punishment was I, that 20+ were in 1993), the Mets were pretty miserable, but on the bright side, there were plenty of empty seats in which to place my tape recorder, game notes, and other necessities. An upper deck seat was a pretty good buy back then...only $6.50 if I remember right, and the view was ideal for a broadcaster in that you could see the entire field without issue (since no one was gonna stand and block your view).

Those broadcasts were great for my blogging, because it made me into the expert in Mets minutiae that I am today. I had to make sure I could talk about the likes of John Cangelosi and Kevin Baez, because there was plenty of time to fill.

With all this in mind, perhaps I'm being a little cocky, but I feel like I have some expertise to share. I offer a few suggestions to SNY for Thursday's broadcast.

Spotlight the surroundings
Perhaps have Keith and Ron buy tickets and enter the ballpark via Gate C or E, just like any other fan. Could we see Keith unsuccessfully bribe an usher to try to move up from the reserved seats to the boxes? Or get a report from Ron while he's at the concession stand for hot dogs and soda. On my end, I challenge Gary to sprint down the flight of stairs and race to the men's room in-between innings, then get back in time for first pitch (in many of my "broadcasts", the panting/wheezing heard around the top of the 5th inning is me having just made a bathroom run).

I think it would be funny to embrace the fans. Find a little kid for Keith to high-five after a David Wright home run. Have Ron start the strikeout clap on the first two-strike count (normally I would NEVER endorse the broadcast crew doing this, but this is a one-time broadcast). Just do us a favor and ignore the wave (not a fan).

And you can't hide from this, SNY: If the crew is sitting near home plate, you've gotta find a way to acknowledge the group that I believe is known as "The Section 1 Fan Club."

That entourage may not want to be seen, but they're a huge part of the Shea story. Basically it's a group of older men who try to attend several hundred sporting events a year, and find their way into Shea/Yankee Stadium whenever those teams are home. I believe the record for games attended in one year is 300+. Those guys know better, since they keep careful records.

There are some interesting personalities in that group and I could see why some fans might not wanna hang with them. Some keep quiet and score the game with great diligence. When I hung out near their seats (I usually went one section over because their commotion made me nervous), you could hear one fellow with a weird ritual. If a batter struck out, he'd yell "Heyyyyyyyyyyyy...." and stretch the end out until the next batter was fully ready to hit. The unofficial "leader" of the group is "Fuzzy" (I won't mention his real name), nicknamed for his beard. Fuzzy is a loud and proud New York sports fan (the New York Times profiled him last year) whom I interviewed years ago when I found out he was trekking 175 miles or so round trip from the Bronx to watch minor league hockey in Trenton, NJ. Fuzzy is a fun one. His presence should be noted, if he's there and not "chasing" somewhere else.

One other tip for Gary: Pitch type is hard to read from the upper deck. If you guess wrong, don't be shocked if you hear the fans in front of you say "Did you hear that idiot??? He said slider. The scoreboard said fastball!" That happened to me more than once.

Watch out for the wind
I say this for Keith Hernandez, who I'm guessing has never sat in Shea's red seats. Whenever you venture out to the upper reaches of Shea, you need to take whatever the projected wind speed is and double it. Memo to Keith Hernandez: Bring a paperweight for that HUGE scorecard you carry around. Otherwise, it will fly away.

Tell us your stories
I think it would be cool to see the pictures, if Keith or Ron have any, of them attending major league baseball games anywhere, as kids. And Gary, if you have any highlights from any possible "broadcasts" you did from the stands, I think the fans would love to hear the younger version of you saying things like "It's a 2-run single for Pepe Mangual!" or "It's outta here...Home run, Dave Schneck!" At the very least, it would bring this Mets fan some pleasant memories.

True Metperdeckers know...I can remember broadcasting at least three significant walk-offs from the upper deck. One was a Bobby Bonilla walk-off single against the Cubs on July 5, 1995. Another was a Chris Jones walk-off home run against the Pirates on July 29, 1995 (I called Pirates pitcher Ross Powell, "Dennis" by mistake). The other was a "walk-off tightrope" on May 26, 1996, in which John Franco struck Jody Reed out with the bases loaded to preserve a 1-0 win.


Stormy said…
So do any of your broadcasts still exist?
Stormy said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
metswalkoffs said…
Yes, they do.

I've taped over some of them, but I know a few that exist. My voice was a little squeakier back then...
Stormy said…
So when can we expect to see them posted here? :)
metswalkoffs said…

send me an email reminding me of your e-mail address and I'll see if I can send you one or two.

If I post them, I believe I'm violating the "this broadcast may not be reproduced or retransmitted without MLB permission." :)

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