Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Things to Come (Part Two)



Do not look at these men. I don’t look at them. I only look behind them.

And when I do look behind them, I only see Shea Stadium. We are standing in the approximate vicinity of home plate. It’s the 1970’s when so many of these player portraits were taken at Shea Stadium. I suppose before an age when digital photographs could be emailed, the New York-based Topps photographers would just camp out at Shea (or Yankee Stadium) and wait for teams to pass through town.

So here we are. Starting left to right: Behind the bookish Tom House you see Sections 32 of the Loge and Mezzanine (section 48 of the Upper Deck). These formed the northmost end of Shea's trademark unclosed circle. Behind House's glove, there stand the trademark twin light posts. Panning right, behind a menacing, neanderthal Greg Luzinski you can see the old right-center scoreboard back when it still featured its distinctive white outline. I especially like the Rheingold Beer sign - almost a compartmentalized reminder of the old Polo Grounds where a much more conspicuous Rheingold sign loomed. The last card is finally a Met, John Stearns. Behind him, to the left (his right) you can see the completion of the scoreboard that started with Luzinski. Lastly over Stearn’s left shoulder you see the completion of the Upper Deck -Section 47. The circular coliseum that began over Tom House has swept behind you and ended over Stearn's left.

Now that Shea Stadium is no longer with us, I feel fortunate that such a vast number of Topps portraits were taken there. As I mentioned in my last post, I'll be heading to Citi Field next month to see my first game there thanks to my good friend Donnie. I know that when I first step off the Number 7 subway line, the first thing that will seize me will be the enormous void created by the now absent Shea. I somehow know that that empty space will supplant the wonders of Citi Field as my first impressions congeal.

Everyone, even die-hard Yankee fans, have been praising Citi Field. I suppose this new facility is like a new puppy I won't accept because I'm still clinging onto memories of a beloved old dog. I've been spending a lot of time looking for Shea Stadium in my old cards, fondly recalling its innumerable imprefections and bad plumbing. Like Howie Rose once said, "It was a dump...but it was our dump."


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