Last year when I walked into Citi Field for the first time, I was amazed by two things. The first was how big and beautiful our new ballpark was. The food was great, the seats were comfortable, and the baseball was... OK, well maybe the baseball wasn't so spectacular, but the new stadium certainly added more fun to the experience.
As great as the new stadium was, however, there was one issue that seemed to puzzle all Met fans alike: it didn't feel like the stadium of the New York Mets. When you walked into Shea Stadium, you saw the classic photos of Ray Knight scoring in game 6, you saw images of Endy Chavez robbing Scott Rolen of a home run, you were able to see the history of the Mets.
For the first year of Citi Field, I never saw anything even comparable to that. You walked into the stadium, and there was the Jackie Robinson rotunda. Pictures of Jackie Robinson, quotes of Jackie Robinson, the number of Jackie Robinson, everything was Jackie Robinson. Now, I have absolutely no problem with Jackie Robinson. He was a great player, an important part of American culture in the twentieth century and a role model to many young Americans. But what confused fans was the fact that Jackie Robinson was never a Met. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, which of course were a huge part of New York culture in the '40s and '50s, but the Mets did not even arrive in New York until 1962. It was not until you reached the field and saw the retired numbers or the pennant banners of the Mets that you were reminded of some sort of Mets history.
So how did Fred Wilpon respond to this complaint? First, he added a New York Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. In a word, it is incredible. The original Mr. Met, balls, bats, baseballs, and jerseys representing classic New York Mets moments, and videos capturing all the greatest highlights from our near 50-year history. I would say the moment that personally affected me the most was John Franco's FDNY hat, which rushed back memories of the Mets first game post-9/11, a game I will never forget for the rest of my life. I strongly suggest checking out this new addition to Citi Field, it is really worth arriving early to a game one day to see it.
The Mets made some other changes to Citi Field such as naming the bridge beyond the outfield Shea Bridge in honor of Bill Shea, the man responsible for bringing back National League Baseball in 1962. The original home run apple from Shea Stadium is now located in the parking lot as opposed to beyond the centerfield wall. Lastly, banners of Mets players from their history have been added to the Mets plaza in the parking lot.
Overall, Citi Field has vastly improved from last season. As special as it was last season, the fact that the Mets made an effort to commemorate our history (and put a healthy baseball team on the field) really makes an amazin' day at Citi Field.