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Aaron Leibowitz | The Fan

What we inherit

Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 07:10

 

On May 11, 1996, as a wide-eyed, chubby-cheeked four-year old, I went to my first Major League Baseball game. Sitting next to me on that warm Saturday afternoon were my dad and both my grandfathers, and I watched, mesmerized, as the New York Mets beat the Chicago Cubs, 7-6. 

The way I watched the Mets that day, I imagine, is similar to the way my grandfathers had once watched their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers: in awe of the sights and sounds of the ballpark, overwhelmed by the crowd and, most of all, enamored of the godlike figures on the field. 

Soon enough, those figures would become my heroes.

Fast forward 10 years, and my dad’s dad — my grandpa — was taking me to Mets Spring Training in Florida. There, I was on cloud nine. How could I not be? My heroes were playing baseball just a few steps away. I got as many autographs as I could, and when a player tossed me a ball, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. 

Now, jump ahead six more years, to last Wednesday. On this particular afternoon, the Mets played the final game of their 2012 regular season, defeating the Miami Marlins 4-2 to finish a disappointing year on a high note. 

Also on Wednesday, my grandpa passed away. 

Much like the Mets’ season — like every Mets season — his life was long, but it ended far too soon. 

There were two things that I could count on my Grandpa to do every time I saw him. First, he’d give me a hug and tell me how wonderful it was to see me. Second — and no more than 10 seconds later — he’d sum up the state of the Mets in a single sentence.

“So, the Mets just can’t score enough runs to win ballgames.”

“So, it looks like this Matt Harvey can really pitch.”

“So, this Mets bullpen has been a big disappointment.”

No matter what the observation was, good or bad, he always made it casually and with a smile. It was simply a part of his greeting, like asking ‘How are you?’ — a topic that inevitably would be addressed in greater detail once we both had a chance to sit down.

A couple of years ago, as a gift for me to use in college, my Grandpa bought me a Slingbox so that I could watch the Mets — our Mets — on my computer, even in the heart of Red Sox Nation. 

Last Wednesday, with him on my mind, I sat down at my desk and turned on the game. Ike Davis, Scott Hairston and Andres Torres each hit home runs. Ruben Tejada had three hits. Jeremy Hefner got the win and Bobby Parnell picked up the save. 

Those people — the Mets — used to be my heroes. 

But Mike Piazza came and went. David Wright, my favorite player of the moment, will not be a Met forever. Even Shea Stadium is no longer standing. 

As it turns out, my heroes are the three men who took me to see the Mets play the Cubs on that May afternoon in 1996, when I was wide-eyed and chubby-cheeked

Without them, there would be no baseball. No Mets, no Spring Training, no Slingbox. And without baseball, I wouldn’t have inherited a small but significant part of my grandpa’s legacy.

Today, as a reminder of that legacy, a brick which my family bought for him a few years ago lies in the walkway outside Citi Field. It reads: 

“Bernie Leibowitz

Our Mr. Met

Love, Your Amazin’ Kids and Grandkids.”

Long after David Wright’s career is over, that brick, and that legacy, will live on.

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Aaron Leibowitz is a junior majoring in American studies. He can be reached at Aaron.Leibowitz@tufts.edu.

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