(For those of you expecting a Time to Cry about sending my boy off to college this week… no can do. He is still here and the mantra is ‘hold it together’, so wait till next week for that one.)
Saturday night made me remember all the reasons why I love to be a New Yorker. This is a town like no other, and this particular night proved why being born and raised here is still something to be proud of.
Citi Field, a perfect summer evening and a unique sort of show that could only be dreamed up in the city that never sleeps. We went thinking this would be a fun sort of evening, a little barbeque tailgating with great friends and $10 tickets to see a movie about the Billy Joel concert that closed Shea. What could be bad about that? Little did we know what a gem of a film we were about to see.
I will not claim to be either an avid Mets or Billy Joel fan but I will tell you that this film made me realize what a huge part they both played in my coming of age.
Shea Stadium was that big ugly building that let me know we were almost home after a long road trip as a child. A place where my parents took us to see our first baseball game. Billy Joel’s music played as the backdrop to my adolescence. All the milestones of growing up were marked by the history that this film so elegantly illustrated. Sports, music, joys and sorrows that New Yorkers have endured through the 40+ year history of a man’s career and the stories of a Stadium and a team.
1965. The Beatles played Shea. I was 6. Do I actually remember it on TV in my house or is that memory of the retelling? Hard to say.
1969. All I could think of was kids listening to that game on transistor radios walking home from school with friends.
1986. Game 6, we were painting my friends kitchen in her new house and screaming at the game.
2001. September 21st. I still get chills at the thought of a New York still numb in a post-9/11 stupor; grieving as one family at the horror we had witnessed, as Piazza hit that 2-run homer that felt like hope. Maybe there was a chance we could think of living again.
And woven in between the stories of Billy Joel’s career were stories of the lives of Shea like Pete Flynn, the groundskeeper who not only drove The Beatles to the stage in a Cadillac in 1965, but then drove Paul McCartney to the stage again to close the Billy Joel concert that last night. And of course Billy, who stood humbled on the stage, in awe of being chosen to close that icon of a stadium that he too had grown up with. As he said, ‘Hey, I haven’t put out a new body of music in almost 15 years and this place is filled tonight. Thank you all.”
What a night. The world’s biggest drive in filled with the world’s greatest fans. And they cheered, and teared up. And breathed a collective sigh of appreciation at the end for a beautiful night out in NY. Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive. Just deliciously nostalgic and inspiring in its spirit of hopefulness.
As Paul McCartney ended the show with Let it Be, it was hard to think of anything else more to say.