Among the bits of advice and recommendations that I got from friends while planning this project was the suggestion that I get a hat from each team that I visit this summer. I countered: “Are you kidding? If I could get them for an average of $20 apiece, I’d be out more than two grand. And what would I do with 109 hats? Where would I put them?” No thanks.
So before embarking on this wild venture, I decided not to buy any souvenirs but to look for freebies—ticket stubs and folded schedules—that I might frame in a collage or some other artistic arrangement of a ballpark, a baseball and bat, or a map tracing my route. That was my commitment until my sixth game.
|St. Lucie staffer Cassie Younce with Mookie's jersey.|
In St. Lucie, however, I couldn’t resist buying the Mets program for $1.50 because it included a raffle chance to win a Mets’ jersey, specifically, number 53: Mookie Wilson’s jersey. And, oh my goodness, a dollar fifty is surely worth the chance to win a Mookie jersey to give to my good friend and travel companion from last summer Rick Censullo. He’s a life-long, die-hard Boston fan, who died hard in 1986 when the Mets unexpectedly prevailed over the Red Sox in the World Series.
With Boston leading New York three games to two and ahead 5 to 3 with two outs in the tenth inning of Game 6 in the 1986 World Series, the Mets had no runners on base. Boston fans could taste the end of their seven decades of agony during which the World Series championship had eluded them. But a wild thing happened. The “Curse of the Bambino” started to shout. Twice down to their final strike, the Mets managed to string together three singles before a wild pitch brought home the tying run. Then Mookie Wilson hit a routine ground ball toward Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. The ball started to assert its own rhythm, hip-hopping under Buckner’s glove and scoring the winning run. Although Buckner’s miscue on Mookie's roller has taken on mythic significance, the missed opportunities and misplays earlier in the inning really cost the Sox the Series, which the Mets clinched the next night.
The temptation offered by the chance to win a Mookie jersey for a patriot in Red Sox Nation was certainly too seductive for me to resist the purchase of a program for a souvenir.