She told me I was crazy. She's probably right. My next door neighbor, walking her golden retriever, caught me decked out in Mets regalia, as I prepared to embark on a one hundred twenty mile pilgrimage to the green cathedral in Flushing Meadows. We left at 3:30 PM and returned home at 12:40 AM. Yep, she's right, I'm crazy.
There were eight of us crammed (legally) into our Taurus station wagon, three, three, and two. Three men and five boys, including, the latter, two sets of twins. Complaints were held to a minimum, despite cramped space and knotted muscles. Oh, what we do for love of sport!
Shea was our green cathedral this night. Four Mets fans, three Atlanta Braves fans, and one lone Yankee fan occupied seats in an outer loge box. At $38 per I was provoked to remember the good old days when general admission was $1.30 all around the town; and less for Jets games, when pal Rev. Armitstead wheedled free passes the second year of that team's existence (we had passes 8 and 9; the first seven went to Cardinal Spellman's office). But it was worth the price of admission to see the teenaged boys tease one another, eat gobs of junk food, and worry, the Braves fans did, that if they were too obstreperous with their tomahawk chant someone in a mezzanine box would anoint them with beer.
Not even the orange mesh attached to the foul pole, through which I had to look to see home plate, mitigated my enthusiasm for the experience. The night lights brightened the colors. An Irish king would think himself blessed indeed had he a carpet spread before him as green as the outfield. Only the beer vendors' fluorescent chartreuse shirts made a bold and sour fashion statement.
The young Atlanta pitcher threw a one-hit shut-out. The Braves fans gloated. The Mets fans reminded them who was 15 games ahead in first place in the division. We drove home in relative silence. Only two of us, a Dad and a twin, got any shuteye. And for the five teenaged boys it would be off to school again at 6:45 AM!
The day before, Sunday morning, we heard a sermon on Superman. No, no, it wasn't another Arian heresy! The preacher, on the most thankless of Sundays, the day before Labor Day, provided a little novelty to catch our fancy. He began by noting that the presence of God is to be found (or we are found by it) in the common life, even in pop culture; to wit, Clark Kent's alter ego. Whereupon the preacher explained how the Gospel is hidden in Action comics. Think John 3:16 and the father who sends a son to earth to save its inhabitants from evil.
It was a good sermon and a fine first pitch for Monday night's experience. That life, all of life, is suffused with the glory of God... even if your team doesn't win. In the pulpit I have avoided sports analogies for Gospel truths. (I wish politicians would follow my example in their realm!) But there is some validity to the title of that illustrated book presented me by someone who heard of my nationwide quest to attend every major league ballpark: "Green Cathedrals." Where there is rest and refreshment. Where there is excitement. Where the professionals do their thing with skill and grace. Where, win or lose (but winning is better), there are moments of grand forgetfulness of our mortality, the aches, the pains, and the worries.
If only it wasn't so expensive.