OK, we know I’m a jinx to the major-league Mets. But apparently that now extends to any of our assorted minor-league versions as well.
I know this because I had the extreme pleasure of going to see the St. Lucie Mets play the Jupiter Hammerheads at Roger Dean Stadium on Saturday.
The game started on a good note because, well, I was with my Dad, and that makes any event special. But as we were walking to the ticket window a ball came bouncing off the stadium roof and landed in the grass about 30 feet in front of us.
Sweet! An official Florida State League ball, and without having to deal with someone yelling “Give it to a kid.” Kids are perfectly capable of catching their own balls, and note that this phrase is yelled only by people who, in fact, were not able to catch one.
It didn’t even dawn on me why someone would be hitting a foul ball out of the stadium when the game was a half-hour away from starting and too late for batting practice.
Snagging our tickets and free “Game Day Magazine” and magnetic schedules, we soon discovered that the game started an hour earlier than the schedule I saw last week.
But that was OK, because it was only the top of the second inning and the Mets were already up by a run.
Roger Dean Stadium is a spring training complex shared by the Cardinals and Marlins, and then used by the Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals for the remainder of the summer. That means there is a game just about every day, which is pretty efficient use of your stadium tax dollars in my book.
And while tickets might be hard to snag in March, they are pretty readily available in April through August. We sat where we pleased, which was in the third row behind the Mets dugout near the on-deck circle.
I didn’t see any of our assorted ailing and rehabbing Mets, but the team is managed by Tim Teufel, who doesn’t look like he’s aged a day from when he earned his 1986 World Series ring.
Mike Hart, Joel Fuentes and Dan Murray are the coaches. Murray pitched one game for the Mets and 14 for the Royals in his brief major-league career, but, of course, is a favorite of mine.
A Mets catcher wearing No. 31! Is Mike Piazza back? Nope, it was Jason Jacobs wearing a number that should be retired throughout the Mets system.
I can’t say I recognized anyone on the St. Lucie roster, but nearly all were either Sand Gnats or Cyclones last season. The Hammerheads were trotting out rehabbing Jeremy Hermida.
Mets hurler Dillon Gee didn’t seem to be fooling anyone, but he was getting saved by some really tight defense.
He definitely didn’t fool Hammerhead Jacob Blackwood who launched an absolute bomb to left that landed on the roof on the building beyond the fence to tie the game.
Naturally, with me an attendance, the Mets forgot to score any more runs. The game remained tied until James Guerrero hit another homer – this one nowhere near spectacular – off Mets reliever Garry Bakker in the seventh.
The Mets only had one hit the entire time I was there, which I guess I should have expected, being a jinx and all.
But we were able to see some nice pitching and fantastic defense. Plus we left with our foul ball, magnet schedules and I even got a sponge eye-ball that was tossed into the crowd during the between-inning festivities.
Earlier in the day, my parents once again showed how they absolutely spoil me by taking a side adventure from our shopping trip in Vero Beach to get one last look at Dodgertown, which, of course, is the best spring training site in the universe.