My friend Diane and I had mixed emotions about this game, which was called after five because of a SNOWSTORM! It was a cheap win thanks to penny-pincher M. Donald Grant and the Mets brass who didn't want to lose a near-capacity Opening Day crowd. The playing conditions were deplorable but thankfully no one was injured. We were glad for the win — but equally glad to get in from the cold; I don't think we could have lasted 4 more innings.
First time ever that the Mets opened a season with a win at Shea. In 1970, they had won a season opener for the first time but the game was in Pittsburgh.
I had wanted to go to an Opening Day baseball game ever since I had seen the Brady Bunch episode in which Dodgers' First Baseman Wes Parker promised Greg two tickets to the opener if he got an A in his fiancee's class. Good enough for Greg Brady, good enough for me!
I never did get an A but my dream came true anyway in 1971 when my dad scored two tickets for my mom and me. (Dad couldnt get out of work that day and my sister had no interest)
Game day came and the weather was iffy at best. My social studies teacher who had heard my mom was coming to pull me out of school kept egging me on: "The game is rained out!"
But it wasn't. Mom showed up and we made the ride up Northern Blvd until the stadium came into view. By this time, the rain was coming down pretty hard. Not to mention the hail. Not to mention the snow. Did I mention the wind?
I couldn't care less about the weather. Mom of course felt differently. She had on one of those expressions that said, "Get me out of here!"
Dressed in heavy coats and carrying a blanket, we made it to our seats in the mezzanine level behind the left field foul line. Thankfully, we were under cover.
Still, there was that matter of the tarp covering the field. "They're not going to play," my mom said, hoping they'd call the game any minute so we could go home.
Then, a miracle.
"Look mom, they're taking the tarp off!" "Oh my God!" my mom shrieked.
And so they played: monsoon, windstorm, and all. Seaver pitched. I seem to remember Donn Clendenon doubling in the first inning and scoring. Maybe he even knocked in a run. The Mets took a lead and after two innings, the weather got so brutal even I had had enough.
Somehow, we found the car. The weather was horrific but that didn't keep us from stopping at the local Dunkin Donuts on the way home. We heard on the radio that the game went into a rain delay in the bottom of 5th inning with the Mets leading the official game. I think we made it home in time to catch Kiner's Korner on WOR-TV.
Over the next 25 years I would attend countless other opening days at Shea. I was there to witness the ball going through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6. And I had field level box seats with my wife when Piazza hit the homer against the Braves that brought tears to everyone's eyes on Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets first home game after the WTC attacks.
As monumental as those moments were, there was something even more special about my first ever opening day, even if it was just two innings of some of the coldest, dampest weather I had ever endured at a ball game.
After all, that was the day when I realized I had the greatest mom who ever lived.