Surprise, said the text from my dear wife Karen.
She’d purchased me a gift to kick off my Birthday Week celebration in very big style.
This year’s edition of the Syracuse Chiefs Hot Stove Dinner would feature a visit of some very special New York Mets.
And I was now the proud owner of a ticket for the VIP Meet and Greet.
This off-season, My Mets organization up and purchased the Triple A baseball operation of my hometown squad.
Yes, the Mets now own the Chiefs. And so General Manager Jason Smorol and gang lined up Ron Darling, Tim Teufel and Mookie Wilson from the Mets 1986 World Series winner and Edgardo Alfonzo from the 2000 squad that tangled with the Yankees in the Subway Series.
I estimated the crowd waiting to enter the VIP section in the Oncenter lobby at a couple hundred Mets fans or so.
Once inside, Smorol asked us nicely to form a line to snake in front of Darling, Alfonso and Teufel so they could sign beautiful color photos of themselves and say hello. Alas, word filtered out, Mookie had missed his flight and was not in attendance.
Two Chiefs workers were on the working side of the tables to grab patrons’ phones to snap photos with the players.
First I thanked Darling for his years of making me a happy Met fan on the field as a pitcher and decades in the TV booth as a Mets broadcaster on SNY. He smiled graciously.
I then told Edgardo he did great work in the playoffs and Subway Series, and that I even appreciated his after that with the Giants. Oh, yeah, I played for the Giants, he said with a smile.
I told Tim thank you for that title against the Boston Red Sox and for his good years as our third-base coach. I added that I was grateful that he’d been kept in the organization now. He smiled when I reminded him that the Chiefs were now part of the Mets organization, and said it was a good match.
After my time with the players, I chatted with a few longtime friends who also were in the VIP area, talked to GM Smorol and said hello to his nice young daughter who’d joined him for the special occasion, and ate a square or two of cheese.
Hover over a gallery photo for a description. Click on an image for an enlarged slide show.
I didn’t attend the dinner proper this year because that ticket was not included in the VIP package. So I didn’t bid on any of the Mets stuff on the silent auction tables. I didn’t win anything I bid for at last year’s dinner, anyway.
I do believe my dear wife Karen made the right choice to get my round year Birthday Week celebration off to a brilliant start.