I’m an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. Cards, autographed balls and photos, bobble heads, and of course, ticket stubs. I still have almost every stub of every ballgame I’ve attended since 1975 — more than 80% of them involving the Mets. In most cases, I can glance at the stub and have some recollection of the game — even it was a rainy Wednesday night at Shea in July of 1982. Many of the stubs evoke special memories.
August 21, 1977, Mets vs. Reds, Upper Reserve, Section 29, Row C, Seat 16 — Tom Seaver returns to Shea for the first time in an opposing uniform.
June 22, 1983, Mets vs. Cards, Mezzanine Box, Section 1, Box 507C, Seat 5 — the first time I saw Darryl Strawberry launch one of his moonshot dingers.
August 20, 1985, Mets vs. Giants, Upper deck, $4.00 general admission seat — Doc Gooden throwing smoke in striking out 16; the Dr. K legend is in full swing.
August 24, 2008, Mets vs. Astros, Mezzanine, Section 19, Row B, Seat 13 — My last visit to Shea.
I could go on and on, sifting through the hundreds of stubs in my collection.
The beauty of stubs is, they don’t cost you anything — at least no more than the price of the ducket (if you indeed paid for it). Whenever I return home from a game, I take the stub out of my wallet and carefully place it in a binder, chronologically and by team. I know, it sounds obsessive, but each stub adds to my collective memory of times well spent (and sometimes not so well spent) at the ballpark.
Occasionally, a stub unleashes a jewel of a memory. A few years ago, my friend Tony mentioned that he had lined up Ed Kranepool, the Mets longtime first baseman and pinch hitter extraordinaire, for a charity function. That got me sifting through my ticket stubs for a game in April of 1978. A cold early season game at Shea, Mets vs. Expos. Kranepool hit a dramatic pinch hit homer in the bottom of the ninth to win it. One of the few highlights of an otherwise miserable season for the Mets. I then went online and found the box score of the game. Kranepool’s homer came off Stan Bahnsen. I printed out the box score and gave it to Tony. “Ask Kranepool to sign this when you see him,” I said. Sure enough, Kranepool remembered the game and scribbled on the boxscore, “Bryan, Glad you were there.” I framed the boxscore with the ticket stub from that game. A seemingly worthless little piece of glossy paper evoked a special memory for me, and I suppose, albeit momentarily, for a Mets legend. That’s the beauty of tickets stubs.
The beauty of ticket stubs. Have you ever seen those words threaded together?