METS FANS SHARE THEIR MEMORIES OF THE JULY 13, 1969 GAME:
January 11, 2005
This second game of a doubleheader was a masterpiece of drama that I will always remember. I was there, my first baseball game ever, only age 8.
In the second inning with the Mets already behind, Jones singles and then puts his lithe legs to work, attempting to steal second. There is a close play at second, and Jones is called out. If I did not already love Cleon, at that moment there is no doubt that I adopted him as my own, when I saw him sink to the knees and plaintively and passionately argue his disagreement with the big, burly umpire standing apposite.
Jones pleads and pleads, and the fans are excited, riled up. "We want Cleon" they scream There is an unstated query rumbling through us: will Jones be tossed? The unthinkable happens. The umpire jerks his thumb through the air, much more violently then he did when announcing Jones’ failure to reach the bag ahead of the tag. You’re out, he screamed. Cleon tossed from the game! Impossible.
Jones himself is transfixed for a moment by the cruel piercing of the umpire’s gesture, then degenerates into apoplexy, leaving his knees and going face to face with the umpire, screaming. They are separated by the Mets manager, the former Brooklyn Dodger, Gil Hodges. Jones leaves the field, and the Mets fans scream over the unfair crucifixion of their star player. After all, from any angle in the ballpark the reality could be plainly seen: my father, and 50,000 other fans cried: he was safe!
But although my endless day of summer would soon re-enter the bounds of time, I secured a baseball Neverland that summer and every other summer since by faithfully consuming a daily dose of baseball.