The Ugly Girl Nobody Likes

Made you look.

She grew up in the figurative shadow of her older cousin. She's been quite the busy bee, these fourty-four years. But she gets very little respect. Always, her cousin gets the accolades, and she is relegated to going about her business, the butt of jokes, the one people call ugly. No one ever takes her seriously these days. She doesn't even really have a nickname. Her cousin has several, all affectionate or reverential. Sadly, her and her cousin passed away the same year, to the day. I daresay she will be remembered with disdain by many, but she will always have a place in my heart.

She was born on April 17th 1964. At the time, everyone loved her. She was magnificent. She was special. She could do, even in those early days, so much more than her cousin. In fact, when her cousin was getting a facelift in 1976, she filled in, and did both of their jobs. What a trooper.

In the days following September 11, 2001, she found herself working hard for the relief effort. For a while, she was the hero again, before fading back into the shadows.

I first met her when I was nine. And it was that day that I fell in love with the old girl. Old girl - she was fourteen at the time, a kid, really, but impressive to a young man, nonetheless. I've stayed in contact with her all these years, visiting her often, though not as often as I would have liked. They say you never forget your first love, and though I've known many like her, she will always have a place in my heart, even though she's gone.

Know who I'm talking about?

William A. Shea Municipal Stadium is in the process of being dismantled to make room for the Mets new home, Citi Field. Across town, Yankee Stadium is meeting the same fate. These two old ladies, it seems, will not be allowed to go out with a bang - building implosions are illegal in the State of New York. Pity - it would have been fitting that the both fall at the same time. But alas, they are being picked apart by hard-hatted men in cold metal machines. Their innards are being recycled or sold at auction.

People call Shea an ugly building. They must have something against blue and orange. I have been to many games at both ballparks, Shea and the other one, the Big Ballpark in the Bronx, the Cathedral of Baseball, the House that Ruth Built. I have to be honest - I much prefer going to games at Shea. Not just because I like the Mets. I just like the whole experience.

Yankee Stadium tended - in it's later years - to be full of guys will loosened ties, who took off early from work to drive their Bimmers to the Bronx and stand around drinking imported beer and watch the game. Shea was full of guys who took the day off to take the Seven train to yell at opposing players and live the game. There are exceptions, of course - Yankee Stadium has it's famous Bleacher Creatures. There are plenty of down-home, blue-collar Yankee fans, no doubt. It just seems there are a lot more in Queens.

Maybe it's that Shea was the first place I saw a baseball game. I went there when I was nine, and saw Tom Seaver, Jerry Koozman and John Stearns. My boys are Yankee fans (how did that happen) so games with them were generally in the Bronx, but the girls bleed blue and orange. Pink walls and a Piazza poster - gotta love it.

I'll miss the old girl. I'm never one to stand in the way of progress, but turning her into a parking lot seems so... cruel.

Is there anyplace you miss like that?


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