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April 11, 2010 represents a silver anniversary celebrated by only me. Sure, a lot of people will be forced to recognize this momentous occasion with me but it’s really my celebration. It is, at once a point of pride and a moment of tragedy. It is one of the most important days of my life, but one that most participants probably don’t remember.

It is the 25th anniversary of the day I became a die-hard Mets fan. A little background first. In 1984, my dad, knowing my affinity for strawberries, tells me there is a guy playing baseball named Strawberry. Awesome. A guy named after my favorite fruit. I’d never watched a baseball game but he was already my favorite player. We go to a game or two that summer and I enjoyed it as much as a six-year-old can.

As the 1985 season approached, I won a radio call-in contest to become honorary batboy for the second game of season. I wouldn’t actually perform the duties of batboy but I would get to hang around before the game. I put on my ballpark finest, which included a full Mets uniform, wristbands, a satiny Mets jacket and a blue Mets hat way too big for my head, and headed out to Shea Stadium.

When I got to Shea, a Mets representative presented me with an official 1985 yearbook and ushered me and my dad into a tunnel located deep in the bowels of the stadium. Because of a light rain, most of the team was hitting in an indoor batting cage and we stood outside of it. As the players came and went, most stopped to say hi and sign my yearbook.

George Foster took a photo with me and Keith Hernandez knelt down and put his arm around me for one of my most cherished photos of all-time. In his first game as a Met, Gary Carter hit a game-winning homerun the day before. When he came by I said, “nice homerun yesterday.” He tossled my hair and said “Thanks kid.” That homerun was a huge moment for Gary and the Mets.

We had a little time before the first pitch and so I went out onto the field and sat down in the dugout. Darryl Strawberry was sitting there and he looks over at me and says “How ya doin kid?” “Good,” I said to the man who had become, and still is, my favorite baseball player, despite all his troubles and all his Yankees rings.

Then it was time for my big-screen debut as I smiled and waved on the Diamond Vision screen. I’ve been a die-hard fan ever since. Short of moving from NY or changing their name, I’ll always be a Mets fan. On my fanwalk brick outside of CitiField, it says “Batboy for a day, Mets fan forever.” Twenty-five years later, I still have that yearbook filled with autographs. I have that Keith Hernandez photograph on my bookshelf and I’ll keep watching no matter how bad they play or how mismanaged they might seem.


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