Back in 2002, my son was young. We would take him, a couple of times a year, to B-Met games. The B-Mets or Binghamton Mets are the Double A farm team of the New York Mets.
As I've blogged before, minor league baseball is very different than major league baseball. It is played in a family friendly small stadium atmosphere, with very few truly bad seats. It is relatively inexpensive, and is a fun way to spend a summer day or night-especially when it is a fireworks game. You are right up close to the action and even have a chance of catching a ball.
For a youngster, there was another fun part of the game. Back in 2002, the ball players, after their warmups, would come to the fence separating the infield from the stands, and children would cluster, balls, programs, and pens in hand. The ballplayers would autograph the balls! For free!
If you were really lucky you ended up with autographs of players who later moved up to the major leagues.
One of those ball players in 2002 was a young B-Mets prospect by the name of Jose Reyes. We were lucky enough to see him play and our son may have gotten his autograph-although those balls are mostly lost and the one we know about has very faded autographs. One thing for sure, he stood out from the other players back then, and shortly after we saw him, he was promoted to the major league Mets. Jose Reyes, as anyone who follows baseball knows, is still with the NY Mets, and is a superstar. An $11 million dollar superstar.
Tonight, Jose Reyes returns to NYSEG Stadium for a three game visit while he completes rehab for a hamstring injury. Local Mets fans are going crazy. He is, after all, returning to his original fans, the ones who came out to see him play before he was a household name. And they will watch him from those close up seats and maybe even catch a ball he hits.
When he plays tonight, perhaps some of those children who stood by the fence waiting for him to sign autographs will return - as teens or as young adults - to cheer him on.