On Saturday, January 18th, I went to a convention. Not just any convention, mind you, but the Queens Baseball Convention, which was held at McFadden’s Citi Field. I went with my cousin, the same cousin who had missed the All-Star Futures game in order to be with his girlfriend. He had bought the tickets as part of a “guys day”, with the agreement that we would go to a Mets game during the season.
I braved a heavy snow shower and took the train from Katonah to Grand Central, followed by the 7 line to Willets point, by which time the snow had subsided into really cold rain. Thankfully, I was prepared, as I layered with a t-shirt, my Mets batting practice jersey, and my Mets dugout jacket. Walking from the train to McFadden’s, I took note of the fact that there was a car in the Mets player parking lot. Sandy Alderson perhaps? One of the celebrity guests?
I then stood on line with a colorful assortment of Mets fans. They wore jerseys that included, but were not limited to, a Mets breast cancer jersey, a Las Vegas 51s top, Binghamton, Brooklyn, there was even a couple sightings of the rare, but not universally celebrated Mercury Mets jersey. To be honest, I thought those had all disappeared, never to be seen again.
While waiting on line for the convention/waiting for my cousin, I ran into one of my blogging colleagues from my days as a Mets blogger, Jon Springer, who runs Mets by the Numbers, Jon was pretty happy to see me, even though we had never formally met before that day. It was about that time that I did run into my cousin, whom I then introduced to Jon.
After about a half an hour, we went inside. To say that this was like nerdvana for a Mets fan is an understatement, it was a sensory overload. When we entered, there were booths for people selling Mets-centric merchandise, including, but not limited to panoramic Mets lampshades, a children’s book which explained the origins of team names and mascots, pieces of Shea Stadium (I’ll get to that later) parody shirts that said Meats and Knish with mockups of certain sports teams logos, Mr. Met face caricatures, original artwork done by a comic book artist, even the famed 7 line was there selling their gear. Even representatives from the Mets were there too, although they were there more to entice fans to buy ticket blocks and entering a raffle for a Jon Niese signed jersey.
The first of many special guests included both Brooklyn Cyclones mascots, Sandy and Pee Wee, who bounced around the convention.
We went into the first panel, which dealt with new media. It was an interesting discussion, which in sum, was about how bloggers are starting to gain a foothold in the sports media world. It was very crowded, but if you walked in further, you could actually hear.
There was also a trivia aspect to the convention, starting with a Family Feud style game. I volunteered, along with a couple other fans, and using every bit of trivia knowledge that I knew, won. The questions were fairly easy, name the most popular Mets, which Mets do you associate with 10, name all the Shea Stadium tenants, except for one question, most popular food stands. I’m not going to mention what they were, but to put it simply, this is where polling random people has its…drawbacks.
Following this was an appearance by pitcher Ron Darling, who talked about his time with the Mets. While my cousin was in there, I knew it was going to get crowded, and wisely elected to wait outside. Fortunately for me, there was another game going on, Let’s make a deal. Through it, I managed to trade a keychain into a Mercury Mets cap. Had I waited a little longer on line, I probably would have won a jersey, but I was perfectly happy with my cap, seeing as I needed a new one anyway.
After Darling finished up, I had lunch with my cousin, a couple of hot dogs and a shared order of fries. Then, while the Mets history panel was on, I went on line to get Ron Darling’s autograph. It took 45 minutes, but I eventually made it to the table, and when I mentioned how fellow Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen and I lived in the same town, Darling complimented it, saying that it’s a nice place to live. He then signed my baseball.
With nothing else to do for a couple hours, I decided to hobnob with some of the bloggers. I met ESPN writer and Uni Watch head honcho Paul Lukas, who was genuinely friendly, his second in command, Phil Hecken. I then ran into Springer again, who introduced me to his wife and kids. He then told them the story of how I set up his Facebook page, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be one of those funny dinner table discussions.
I had completely forgotten about it until then, but I brought out a book that he had written, which he was surprised to see. He signed the book, and because his coauthor, Matt Silverman was also at the convention, he brought me to him and had Matt sign the book too. Thank you again, Jon.
I then browsed the tables for the umpteenth time, and went back to the Shea Stadium memorabilia. Now, there was some interesting stuff there: a flag that flew over the stadium, a couple pieces of the bleachers, some bricks, some railings, even some cup holders from the seats. I ended up purchasing one of those cup holders for $10, in orange.
Later on, two more special guests arrived, Mr. Met, whom I took a picture with, and Ed Kranepool, who spoke in great detail about his time as a Met. Surprisingly enough, if you wanted to hear him, it was better to listen from the bar rather than from the tables near the stage. Kranepool’s spiel lasted an hour and then he went to sign autographs. Being smart, I decided to get on line earlier, and managed to get his signature on the same ball that I got Darling’s signature.
We left at 4:15, I had piled up on convention junk, and I braved freezing rain and salt trucks in order to get home. All in all, it was fun. I’ll be glad to go to the QBC again, if it happens again next year, and maybe this time I’ll do a live report from it.