It was winter 2000 and New York was in the middle of a freezing cold stretch of weather. Wind chill estimates had the temperatures at subzero on the day that the Mets started selling tickets. This was before you could buy them online, and me and a couple of friends decided to camp out at Shea Stadium to buy tickets for the 2000 season.
We bundled up with blankets and layers and thermoses of coffee and hot chocolate and drove to Shea Stadium. We made record time since it was the middle of the night, parked, and got on line. We were by no means first; there were dozens of people already there, maybe as many as 200. It was frigid and we were basically standing around shivering with hundreds of dollars in our pockets because you had to pay cash. The warmest part was when you got to move a little bit to use the bathroom.
Eventually they moved most of the line inside. It cut down on the wind a little bit, but it wasn’t any warmer. As it got closer to the time tickets were actually on sale a couple of players, and manager Bobby Valentine, came out and were shaking frozen hands and signing autographs as the line started to move. Someone, presumably with WFAN, was handing out the keychains in the picture here. Eventually we were able to purchase our tickets, which included tickets to the epic 8th inning comeback against the Braves on Fireworks Night, climbed back into the car, blasted the heat and drove back home and fell asleep.
Nowadays online ticket sales have done away with this camping out, which is definitely a good thing for those of us that aren’t 17 anymore with free time to wait outside a baseball stadium for hours, but there’s a certain nostalgic machismo to having braved the elements to root for your team.