Three Weeks Until Opening Day!
This Week’s Flashback: 1999
Monday, April 12, 1999 vs. Florida Marlins (Home Opener – Game 8 of regular season)
Win, by score of 8-1, to go 6-2 on the season.
Are You Ready?
This was the slogan for 1999 – Are You Ready? The New York Mets were stacked, and the fan base was confident.
Although the Mets had collapsed at the end of the 1998 season (Mets had a 1 game lead in the Wild card with 5 to play, but lost the last 5 games to miss the playoffs by one game), that was in the rearview mirror. Mike Piazza was now ours, having signed a a $91 million, seven-year contract, then the richest deal in baseball history the previous October. 1998 Goat Mel Rojas was gone, in a trade that netted back… Bobby Bonilla. Robin Ventura and Rickey Henderson were here! And Bobby Valentine’s Mets had a flashy new reliever in the ‘pen too - the hard throwing Armando Benitez.
Even Yankees fans were nervous about the Mets chances this year* – we were starting to take back New York.
I was so stoked about 1999 that I supplemented my Sunday ticket plan with a Six Pack that included Opening Day. My Opening Day seat was in section 29 of the Mezzanine, and cost me $18. Of course, back then, every seat in the Mezzanine for every game of the regular season was $18 – this was before games would be designated as Premium, Gold, Platinum, Classic, etcetera etcetera, much less these dynamic pricing shenanigans…
We also got a Kahn’s magnetic schedule in the shape of a baseball glove (this would be the last schedule to date to be die cut) and marked with the slogan – ARE YOU READY? Shannon will tell you these were the ugly Mets – the black and blue and the whole thing, but I loved being a Mets fan in 1999. Being at Shea that season was awesome – from the home opener, to Mercury Mets night, to the final game of the regular season when on mini bat day we screamed so loud in the ninth inning with Mike Piazza at the plate I swear we caused Brad Clontz to throw that wild pitch, and of course watching Todd Pratt’s homerun sail over the centerfield wall. I can still feel Shea Stadium shake and hear L.A. Woman blast through the centerfield speakers.
But back to the home opener: 52,052 fans were in attendance, on a breezy April day. Bobby Jones was the starting pitcher, pitching seven solid innings and even hitting a home run. Robin Ventura had two RBIs, while Bonilla had three hits and scored two runs, and Rigo Beltran struck out the side to finish the ninth as the Mets won their fourth straight game, beating Livan Hernandez and the Florida Marlins, and giving Bobby Valentine a winning record in his 11-year major league managerial career.