Memory Lane

Today was absolutely incredible.

Lately, I’ve been interviewing fans of different teams around the league.

I knew that I’d eventually reach out to fans of the Mets, but I wanted to take a different approach.
 
This morning, I made a post on a Facebook group called True Mets Fans.
The group has over 16,000 members so I knew I was in the right place.
My post simply said, “Who is the oldest living fan in this group?”
The idea was to ask a few questions of 2 or 3 fans who had been around since the team’s inception.
What wound up happening was amazing. I still have goosebumps.
 
Today, I connected with 3 fantastic Mets fans.
I cannot thank them enough for allowing me the opportunity to connect with them.
This was so much fun.
I spoke to three amazing fans who were there since the very beginning. 1962.
 
First, I had the pleasure of meeting John Viola, a 71 year old fan, living in New Jersey.
Shortly after, was Richard Boller. Richard is a 64 year old fan. He happily accepted my interview request. I just had to promise not to talk about sabermetrics.
Last, but certainly not least was Edward Hornung. Ed is a Baseball Encyclopedia, and is 88 years young!
 
Here’s the cool part.
I emailed Richard and John a few Mets questions and they knocked them out of the park.
Edward?
Well, Edward and I had an hour long phone interview that I’ll share with you guys.
You’re not going to want to miss this!
 
John Viola
71 Years Old
 
MOSTLY METS BLOG: Before the Mets inaugural season, did you consider yourself a fan of another team? What drew you to the Mets?
JOHN VIOLA: Okay, Let’s see..At first I was a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan…I’d say like 1952 on…I even followed them thru the 1970’s…through the Tommy Davis, Wes Parker era. Ever since the Mets started in 1962 they were my new team…I remember going to their first home stand in 1962 as a 16 yr old kid…First time going to The Polo Grounds…Of course the Mets lost …
MMB: The Mets are no stranger to excruciating losses. After all these years, is there one brutal loss that still sticks out?
JV: As far as losses, I think the 2006 Championship game where Beltran struck out was the worst…not Because of Carlos, yeah would have been better if he swung and missed, but Adam Wainwright had a terrific curve..
MMB: I was born in 1983 so maybe you can help me out. How good (terrific) was Tom Seaver?
JV: When Tom Seaver came up I was overseas, but I would try and read everything I could…he was the real deal but it was funny to me.. he was not as good in the playoffs…that’s where I’d say Jerry Koosman was the clutch guy.  Seaver though was still be the best,,,,up until

Doc Gooden came along.

MMB: You read my mind. How good was Doc Gooden in his legendary 1985 season?
JV: Doc was so overpowering that it was hard to fine a peer (maybe Bob Gibson)…Seaver was great but if you really wanted to see poetry and speed…that was the Doc.  I think it was 1987 when the Mets announced they were trying to change his delivery or something..he was never as good…then of course the drugs were his downfall…though he did have a few more pretty good years…
MMB: Do you think any of our current pitchers could be up there with Seaver when all is said and done?
JV: I thought early Harvey could have been a Tom Seaver, But Noah could be Doc..
MMB: My grandfather hasn’t watched a game since the strike in 1994. What do you remember about that time?
JV: I remember the strike year, and what I remember the Astros trying to get in the playoffs, and as a fan of the underdog they were my choice…The Mets didn’t do well..It is funny that as much as I love and played baseball, if the Mets aren’t playing I can’t watch…not even the World series.

MMB: Could we have a prediction for the upcoming season?
JV: Prediction, if we strengthen the strting rotation and pen, we can be a playoff team…and then you gotta believe.
MMB: Favorite Met of all time?
JV: I did love watching Dave Kingman bat…early on Tommy Agee, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright…though it would probably be Mike Piazza.
MMB: Finally. Must win game. Which pitcher past or present do you want on the mound?
JV: I’d probably go with Koosman…money in the bank…
 
Wow. That was awesome. I never heard that about Doc Gooden.
Mets changing his delivery? Sounds like them changing the way Reyes runs.
Ok. On to the next..
 
Richard Boller
64 Years Old
 
MOSTLY METS BLOG: Before the Mets inaugural season, did you consider yourself a fan of another team?What drew you to the Mets?
RICHARD BOLLER: What drew me was my father. He was a Giants/Giants fan. When the baseball Giants moved, he was heartbroken. Then we heard the National expansion would bring a new team, the Metrpolitans, back to the Polo Grounds. Was hooked ever since. 
We were National Leaguers and would never consider any other, especially the Yankees (used to use their baseball cards in the spikes of our bikes).
MMB: The Mets are no stranger to excruciating losses. After all these years, is there one brutal loss that still sticks out?
RB: The most excruciating was the 2000 World Series against the Yankees.
MMB: When Cleon Jones recorded the final out of the ’69 World Series it must have been insane. Could you try and describe the atmosphere surrounding that championship run?
RB: I was so pumped and sure that the Mets would win that I bet two weeks salary on them. I was only making a hundred bucks a week, so it was a small fortune back then.
MMB: I was born in 1983 so maybe you can help me out. How good (terrific) was Tom Seaver?
RB: Tom Seaver, OMG, you knew it was a lock when he took the mound. That long stretch, toe dragging along the ground, pants leg covered in dirt. Truly a site to see if you could get tickets. Always a sellout when he pitched.
MMB: How good was Doc Gooden in his legendary 1985 season?
RB: The Doc, what a shame. You thinks we got flamethrowers today? How’s that Spingsteen verse go, He could throw that speedball by ya, make you look like a fool boy.



 
MMB: Do you think any of our current pitchers could be up there with Seaver when all is said and done?
RB: Syndergaard and deGrom, absolutely.
MMB: Tell us about your first Mets game.
RB: Back in ’62 and ’63, Bordens milk company had these 1 point coupons on their milk containers. Collect ten and you got a free ticket. So my brother and I would go dumpsterdiving and I don’t think we ever paid for a ticket. So the first game we went to had us stopping by our grandmother’s house to pick up her fried chicken (the best). She lived four blocks from the grand wooden stairs that led down to the Polo Grounds. The tickets we got were for grandstand seats. But back then TV cameras were not as plentiful at stadiums as they are now. The Mets only had two cameras. One behind homplate and the other in centerfield. So Mets management came up with the idea to move all ticket holders to seats directly behind home plate to give the impression that the stadium was packed whenever the centerfield camera was used. Brother Brian and I got to sit in what are now known as box seats.
MMB: Could we have a prediction for the upcoming season?
RB: I think we give the Nationals a run for their money and I’m predicting 95 wins if all stay healthy.
MMB: Favorite Met of all time?
RB: The Kid Gary Carter and Mike Piazza. Went to HOF for Piazzas induction.
MMB: Finally. Must win game. Which Met, past or present, do you want on the mound?
RB: Tom Terrific.
 
Come on. How cool is that?
 
Ed Hornung
88 Years Old
 
Please.
Do yourself a favor.
Carve out an hour out of your day and listen to this interview.
Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Duke Snider, Bobby Thomson, Tom Seaver, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams. The list goes on.
 
 
 

 

LGM

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