One year ago, the New York Mets opened up a new ballpark. Citi Field was beautiful and the food was great, but it was missing something. Actually, a lot of things. Simply put, Fred Wilpon showed that he was hoping the Dodgers would move back to Brooklyn. With the Ebbets Club, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda (which I see as a fine part of the building), and the championship banners and the old Home Run Apple relegated to little more than a cave facing the chop shops on 126th Street. The Metsblogosphere was up in arms – get more Mets stuff!
The Mets finally got the hint from Mets fans, and added several elements of Metdom. Photos and reproductions of vintage baseball cards, full-color banners on the light fixtures in the parking lot, renaming of the VIP gates, movement of the Home Run Apple to Mets Plaza, and the establishment of the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum (getting rid of – gasp! – prime merchandise space).
Yes, the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum should have been there last year. But it is here now, and it is immaculate. Filled with incredible pieces – from the original 45 of “Meet the Mets” to the Citi Field pitching rubber from last year – and a great exhibit set-up, the Mets HOF will please fans and visitors for years to come.
The Museum opens in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda (there is an opening from the Mets Team Store, but I’m not sure if Mets management will allow access to the museum year-round), with a ring of famous Mets-related quotes at the center of the hall. To the left is the Wall of Fame, plaques of the players, managers and builders of Mets history inducted in the Mets HOF. (Another important part of the Museum is that they are re-establishing inductions to the Hall of Fame, with Frank Cashen, Davey Johnson, Doc Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry to be inducted August 1st.) The collections are incredibly comprehensive, taking from collections of Mets players, private collectors, and the Queens Museum of Art and National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (who they worked with in designing the museum). There are video displays on a big screen in the rear of the hall, a case devoted to Tom Seaver, and the 1969 and 1986 World Series displays (featuring a highlight video and the championship trophies). Further, there are multimedia displays in many of the displays “Amazin’ Octobers” (featuring video highlights, season recaps, photos, and rosters from the Mets playoff teams), “Birth of A Franchise” (featuring bits about Banner Day, “Sign Man” Karl Ehrhardt, and late organist Jane Jarvis), “Put it In the Books” (featuring Met records and trivia) and “Broadcasting Legends,” as seen below:
Banners from each of the playoff teams line the ceilings, blow-ups of pictures line the walls, and a wall at the back of the hall contains many of the Met uniforms from over the years (along with memorabilia for purchase, natch). The museum will certainly be a must-see for myself, and will be a centerpiece for one of the great qualities of Mets fans – the knowledge of their history.
The Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, inside Citi Field (126-01 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing) is open game days from the time gates open to the end of the game. You can see pictures of my night at Citi Field here.