This year my team, The New York Mets, is in the World Series.
When I moved here, being a Mets fan in New England was no big deal; being a Yankees fan was a whole other story entirely.
I moved here in late 1985 and it really wouldn’t be that long until my status as a Mets fan would soon change in the eyes of the locals.
In 1986, in case you may have forgotten, the Mets and the Red Sox ended up squaring off in the World Series for the first time. The Mets had last won it in 1969 and the Red Sox in 1918.
If I had still lived in New York. I would have been caught up in the emotion of the whirlwind year the Mets had, winning a record number of games for them and then moving to the playoffs. Instead I was surrounded by Red Sox fans and their discussion of “Is THIS the year” and “The Curse of The Bambino.”
I listened without commenting. There was no one I could discuss the attributes of this year’s Mets team with. It was a lonely time for me watching the Mets win an exciting National League Championship as Red Sox fans gathered around me watching their team pull off an amazing comeback in their own Championship Series.
Then the World Series came around and everything changed. No matter how close I came to my new friends at work, I was, for seven games anyway, the enemy. I decided that the old copy of The New York Daily News I had kept over the years from the Mets win in 1969 was best kept at home and not brought to work as a good luck charm.
The 1986 World Series was a back and forth battle with the Red Sox winning two games at Shea Stadium and the Mets winning the next two at Fenway before the Red Sox sent it back to New York ahead three games to two.
Then it was the night of Game Six. I watched it with a roomful of Red Sox fans I worked with. The Red Sox took the field in the bottom of the tenth inning ahead by a couple of runs in what appeared to be, finally, their first World Series victory in sixty-eight years.
I sat humbly and glumly in my chair as the fanatic fans around me high-fived and whooped and roared as the Mets were down to their last out.
It was not a good feeling for me. I knew my team was doomed. Even the scoreboard at Shea Stadium was flashing congratulations to the “World Champion Red Sox.”
Then something happened.
One man on base. Then another. Then a run. Then another. Men on second and third with two outs and now only down one run.
The room had quieted. Whoops frozen in mid wail. I edged up slightly in my chair. Then the bullpen doors opened and to the mound came Bob Stanley. I couldn’t resist any longer. Not thinking about the harm that could befall me, I fell to the floor in front of the big screen TV.
I didn’t dare turn to face my part-time enemies behind me.
Then a wild pitch and the game was tied. A high five was in order but there was no Mets fan there but me.
Then with two strikes on the next batter it happened. A routine grounder to Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. He leaned over to field the ball and…it goes through his legs and the Mets win the game.
I was ecstatic, beside myself, but my celebration was short lived since there was no one there to share the victory with me. All that was around me were the faces of disappointed Red Sox fans staring at me.
I slinked away outside. I knew I wasn’t wanted. When I was sure I was alone I gave out a long scream of delight and then hurried back inside before anyone might realize it was me.
The next night the Mets won the World Series. I was working at a local resort that night and only caught glimpses of the game from the TV in the tavern. I tried to look unaffected as I saw the Mets stage another comeback to win the game amidst curses and depressed sighs from Sox fans.
Deep inside I was overjoyed, but there was not one person to share my excitement.
This year, I will be rooting for the Mets again.
I’m just glad I’m not living in Kansas City this time.
Brendan is the author of “The Flatlander Chronicles” and “Best Of A F.O.O.L. In New Hampshire” which are available at www.BrendanTSmith.com