As July turned to August, the Royals completed their best-ever 9-game road trip 8-1. The trip took them to Chicago, Minneapolis and New York. But THIS New York trip gave the Royals the chance to check out the Mets new ballpark, Citi Field. The Mets began play in 1962, replacing the Dodgers and Giants, National League clubs that moved west four years earlier. In 1964 they moved into Shea Stadium. By the time the Mets vacated Shea after 2008, it was time for a new home.
And what a home they built! Citi Field is a beautiful park, now in it’s fifth season. It opened the same year as the new Yankee Stadium (and the newly renovated Kauffman Stadium). Fred Wilpon, the Mets owner, grew up a Dodger fan in Brooklyn. So there are several elements are similar to the Dodgers former home. The exterior facade is very similar to that of Ebbets Field.
The seats at Citi Field are green, as they were at the Polo Grounds, which was the home of the New York Giants baseball team, before they moved to San Francisco. The Mets played at the Polo Grounds their first two seasons. The seats at Shea were red, orange, blue and green. One of the cool things about the Mets primary colors of blue and orange: they are a blend of Dodger blue and Giant orange.
A feature that started at Shea Stadium (which was on the site right next to Citi Field) is the Home Run Apple. A tradition that started at Shea Stadium, a big red apple with a Mets logo on it rises out of the CF batters eye after a Met hits a home run. This apple is new for the new stadium It’s more than four times the size of the previous apple, which stands outside near the entrance to Citi Field.
New York City is linked by more than 2000 bridges (hard to believe isn’t it?). So one feature of the concourse out in right centerfield is Shea Bridge, commemorating the former home of the Mets, and incorporating the “bridge” theme. The Mets have a bridge in their logo as well.
My favorite special feature of the Mets new home is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It is a beautiful, touching tribute to the man who broke the color barrier in 1947. Of course he was a Dodger, but it happened in New York. So Fred Wilpon’s wish to honor Jackie is fulfilled when you first enter the ballpark. On the lower level Don Free and Denny Matthews stand in front of Jackie’s famous number.
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is the first thing any fan sees when they enter the ballpark. As you walk the steps or take the escalator you see monitors to your left and right with Jackie Robinson highlights. You’ll also see his great quote in giant letters in the upper ring of the Rotunda: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Around the Rotunda are nine large photos of Jackie in his various roles in his life. The images represent Robinson’s nine values: Courage, Excellence, Persistence, Justice, Teamwork, Commitment, Citizenship, Determination and Integrity.
What a great time to visit this place, the same year that “42″ was released. This, of course, is the iconic image of Jackie signing his contract with Branch Rickey. No, Jackie was never a Met, but the Mets and their fans have a lot to be proud of in their five-year-old home in Flushing, New York, in the borough of Queens.
The first stop of the trip took the Royals to Chicago for a series with the White Sox. No, Eric Hosmer is not going to become a catcher. He was warming up Miguel Garcia, who is the Royals left handed batting practice pitcher. The Royals went on to beat lefty starters in all three games in Chicago.