Checking In With Soosh…
After growing up as a Mets fan in New York City, Soosh moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 to attend Cal Berkeley and stayed in the area after he got his degree. He’s still there, working for a tech company, and is still a Mets fan. “I love my Metsies and I’ll take all the bad times with the rays of sunlight in between,” he said.
Born in 1979, Soosh grew up rooting for the strong teams the Mets fielded during the 1980’s. It was an impressive era. When those Mets were at their peak, from 1985 to 1988, they averaged over 100 wins per season. It must have been fun being a Mets fan back then. “It was,” Soosh replied. “My favorite players were Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Sid Fernandez and Lenny Dykstra.”
These were very good players, and at least one of them, Gary Carter, was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his impressive body of work first as a catcher for the Montreal Expos and later for the Mets. I asked Soosh for his favorite recollection of Carter, and at first hesitant “because there are so many,” Soosh settled on Carter’s first game as a Met, when he hit a walk-off home run to win the game on Opening Day 1985. The New Yorkers had been rebuilding for several years and Carter was the last piece added to a lively group that would win the 1986 World Series Championship in a thrilling seven-game series against the Boston Red Sox. Carter was a model of consistency and a stabilizing force for a highly skilled but still very young pitching staff.
Keith Hernandez was acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in June of 1983, and with his superb skills at first base the team showed instant improvement. Hernandez arrived at a time when there was some serious talent in the pipeline and the team improved rapidly. By 1984 the losing years were over. “I thought Keith was really cool. He was a very poised player. Plus, he was on Seinfeld, and that’s a classic part of Mets history,” Soosh said. In his seven seasons as a Met, Hernandez won five Gold Gloves and was a three-time All Star. He’s now part of the New York Mets broadcasting team, seen below (Photo: SNY).
Mookie Wilson was a center fielder, one of the few players who survived the transition from the losing early 1980’s teams to the World Series Championship and contending years. In his initial years with the team he was rocket quick, with about a .280 batting average. He gave the Mets roughly fifty stolen bases a year from 1982 to 1984. His stolen bases dipped to the mid-twenties after that, but his batting average and on-base percentage rose. Wilson had good range in center field and in general was a good ballplayer. “I grew up in America with a strange name, and Mookie had one too. The fact that he owned it and made it a positive was amazing to me,” Soosh said.
It’s not just these players that Soosh recalls with fondness. He also harbors warm sentiments for Shea Stadium, the Mets home from 1964 to 2008. It was built as a multi-purpose stadium, and was called home not only by the Mets but by the football Jets as well. It witnessed a variety of events in it lifetime, including Jim Bunning’s perfect game on Fathers Day 1964, and a Beatles Concert in the summer of 1966. The Jets moved on after a number of years, joining the Giants at the Meadowlands. Shea was even home to the New York Yankees while the original Yankee Stadium was renovated in 1974 and 1975. Recalling Shea, Soosh remarked, “it was big and blue.”
Does he like Citi Field, the new home the Mets opened in 2009? “Yes, I do,” Soosh said. “I love the placement of the Apple outside Citi Field’s main entrance, and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Jackie was amazing and I’m glad he’s honored in that fashion.”
Soosh also mentioned a fondness for the 7 line, the Times Square to Main Street Flushing subway route that takes fans to Citi Field. “I used to live in Manhattan and before my days as a family man my buddies and I would savor taking the 7 train to see the awesome Mets, especially from 1999 to 2001. Those train cars were filled with Mets fans. You’re going over parts of Queens and then all of a sudden, coming up on the left, is an empty parking lot, and then big blue. I loved that part of the ride,” Soosh said. Here’s a photo from back in the day, circa 1964, that shows a 7 line car with Shea Stadium in the background.
It’s not always easy being a fan of the Mets, who have suffered through many lean years and several moments of high drama. The Mets are presently a banged up bunch and will not be a factor in this season’s pennant chase, but that won’t deter Soosh. “I’m a loyal Mets fan who relishes the high points,” he said. “It’s really fun when things are going well.”
The whole team here at Grubby Glove is certain that things will go well again for the Mets one day, and when they do, Soosh will be there to cheer his team on. Good luck with the Mets, Soosh. This post is for you!