So what do you do on a snowy day when spring training is still a month and change away? You go on a tour of Citi Field!
I was unaware the Mets organization offered tours of Citi Field until just recently. I was initially supposed to go on a tour last winter but a blizzard by the name of Jonas (in retaliation of the group of the same name, perhaps?) cancelled those plans. Me of the swiss cheese memory remembered this winter to book the same tour this new year.
So on a snowy Saturday afternoon, I got in my car and drove to Citi Field. Which is in itself a first as I never drive to Citi Field. I always take the #7 train to Citi Field with all the other Mets fans, doing my best to minimize my already large and glaring carbon footprint. When I looked at my ticket and realized that parking was free v. taking the long we-will-stop-at-every-stop #7 local, it was a no-brainer.
I was greeted at the gate by a shivering security guard who happily waved me along (“these are not the droids you are looking for”) and I gleefully parked in a fairly empty lot. The snow had started coming down in chunks at that point so I was happy to get inside. Did I mention it was cold? Like, where is my hat cold?
I visited the Ticket Service Box Office located just inside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and was greeted by cheerful Kristen and the other Mets fans who had purchased their $13 ticket to enjoy the tour. Kristen, as it turns out, had been working for the Mets for a number of years and had plans to start nursing school in the fall. But that is neither here nor there.
We started in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda – one of my favorite places at Citi Field – while Kristen explained that the design of Citi Field incorporated many aspects of Ebbets Field. She also apologized that the Mets Store – normally open during the tours – was sadly closed due to re-stocking. What a shame. My son was actually happy to hear the news as he has barred me from purchasing any more Mets-related items. But again, I digress.
The tour took us from there to the Production Area, which is the scoreboard control room. A pretty small room, with computers jammed next to each other. Katrina informed us that where there is now glass for us to see inside, in the early days of Citi Field there was no glass. The glass was installed for the fans, so we can see the goings-on of the production team. And yes, there is one person’s job to press the button to raise the Home Run Apple. Who knew?
There were visits to the suite levels (Sterling and Porsche), the press box (the press have a great view of the field), and then down to the field itself. We were nicely reminded by Kristen several times not to walk on the grass. Big no-no. Something about how it’s being treated with chemicals in the winter and the blades are such-and-such long and they have computers that monitor the amount of water it gets, the sodium levels, blah blah blah. As much as I would have loved a fake windup from the pitcher’s mound, I heeded Kristen’s advice to get to the next stop on the tour: the dugout. While the back of the dugout looked like a modern art rendering of interesting squiggles – because they are about to post the new sponsors logo – I was busy being beside myself. The actual dugout. I get to sit my ample behind on the dugout bench where the Mets play 62 games a year. “Where does David sit?” I ask the lovely Kristen. She informs me that during the season all you would have to do is look for the pile of sunflower seed shells on the ground, but for now she says, “he usually sits in the middle”. So I plant myself in the middle, ask if Kristen would be kind enough to take my photo, of which she happily obliges, and I smile the biggest, dorkiest smile taken thus far in 2017.
The tour eventually led us to the final stop, which was the Mets Clubhouse. We were not allowed to take photos, as Kristen reminded us that for the players, “it’s their home”. We marched past Terry Collins office (closed and shuttered), a kind of dining hall with jerseys on the walls (#41, #24 and….#30?). There was a trivia question – who wore #30 for the Mets – and I was stumped. But happily we were given a hint: “worst trade ever.” “We traded this person for Jim Fregosi.” From my swiss cheese memory I recalled Nolan Ryan – and ding, ding, ding, I had the winning answer. Yay for me.
At the end of the tour, I thanked Kristen for her hospitality and wished her good luck in nursing school and marched through the snow to my car. As I shoveled the snow off my car, I smiled as I thought to myself: how many days before pitchers and catchers report?
More information regarding Citi Field tours can be found here: