…uniform. This is mine. Got it in, oh…1972-ish.
It’s a beauty, eh? Having been birthed a Mets fan, I got into baseball as soon as I could talk. Used to watch Mets games at my pop’s knee on the old WOR Channel 9 here on Long Island. Loved it then, love it now…despite the dearth of World Series titles (two in my life: 1969 and 1986 — the first of which I don’t even remember, although Dad was at Game 4 at Shea — you know, the game where Ron Swoboda announced himself to the world).
So, roundabout 1972, I begged and pleaded with mom and dad to pleeeeeeease get me a New York Mets uniform for Christmas. Actually, I think I begged Santa to do the dirty work (as I was still a believer then). Whenever I mentioned Santa to dad, he always chuckled, and told me the “jolly old man” would see what he could do. He also told me Santa was always jolly because he knew “where all the bad girls lived.” Apples don’t fall far from the tree.
So, I awoke one December morning to find this under the fake tree. And, what a happy young man I was. In fact, the only time I was happier is when I beat Michael J. Fox at Jenga. I couldn’t wait for spring so I could parade my new duds on the field … and wear that beauty to Shea.
I can’t remember the day or the date of my first 1973 game, but I do know it was warm enough to wear the uniform. I arrived early with my dad, but not early enough to catch BP or get autographs. No matter, I was at Shea, in my gear, and I was in heaven — until about the 7th inning.
You see, there was this black-haired kid, probably about two years older than me, a couple of rows away. He was wearing a “McGovern 72” T-shirt, sweatpants, and had a lefty glove. And he took one look at me and pointed out that there were, um, certain inconsistencies in my uniform. My jersey AND the pants both contained piping. And, of course, neither the 1972 nor the 1973 Mets uniforms had this feature (on the homes). I was also not properly stirruped. *Sigh* Also, at the time, the uniform was lacking the left shoulder patch.
So I set about to remedy the uniform sitch as best as possible. I found a patch in a catalog, which I made mom sew on. I located a pair of stirrups in a sporting goods store (yes, they’re not proper royal Mets blue, but they were as close as I could find). And I begged mom to take the piping off the uniform, but she refused, explaining that would render the uniform more worthless than reichmarks at the end of World War II. So, I made do the best I could.
I’ll always remember that first uniform (and I thank god mom saw fit so somehow keep it all these years … who knew it’d come in so handy for a UW column?). Of course, I still love my Mets gear, even own a couple jerseys and a boatload of T-shirts. But you already knew that.
So what about you guys? You got a “first uniform”? Love to hear about it.
And if I ever run into that kid from Shea, I don’t know whether to punch him in the mouth, or thank him for continuing my uniform obsession.
The rose goes in the front, big guy. — Phil Hecken