On Saturday, June 8 at 1:10 p.m., my beloved Mets took the field for a National League East battle with one of the few teams they are favored to beat, the hapless Miami Marlins.
Just over 20,000 brave souls were scattered about the seats at Citi Field for this one, a game whose main (only?) draw was the pitching match-up.
New York sent rookie sensation Matt Harvey to the hill, while Miami countered with fire-balling 20-year-old Jose Fernandez.
For the incurable optimists in the crowd, this battle of young guns could represent a bright future for a beleaguered franchise.
The Mets were once known for building World Series teams around right-handed power pitchers like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden.
At the moment, however, those days seem as distant as Kiner's Korner, Schaefer Beer and Lindsey Nelson's plaid sports coats.
My Favorite Fan
One of those "incurable optimists" right here in the Wayne County SportsWorld is Katie Schenck.
This may be hard to believe, but Katie is an even bigger Mets fan than me.
She's 96-years-young and has been rooting for New York's lovable losers since the day Casey Stengel brought out the very first line-up card in 1962.
"They were pretty bad," Katie said with a laugh. "I used to take a lot of teasing because of them."
And yet ... all these years later ... she's still watching and rooting. Through thick and thin, wins and losses, triumphs and tragedies.
In fact, as I was yelling at my TV on Parkway Drive, Katie was lecturing Terry Collins in her own living room on West Street.
"I just don't like him," she said of the Mets manager, throwing her hands up in disgust.
Page 2 of 3 - "He's not right for this team. Half the time he looks like he isn't even interested in what's going on. I wish they'd get rid of him."
Trapped in Time
As the game dragged on, fans slowly began filing out of Citi Field. They may have been the smart ones.
Long after Harvey and Fernandez headed off to the showers, this painfully awful game slogged ahead.
By the time it mercifully ended ... after a mind-numbing 20 innings ... the Mets had chalked up another loss, this one by a scintillating 2-1 score.
"I watched it right to the end," Katie said. "I thought I was the only one."
She wasn't, but most of us who watched probably wish we could have that six hours and 25 minutes of our lives back. Ick.
When Katie returned to live in PA from New York, all her friends wanted to know why she rooted for the Mets.
They tried like crazy to re-make her into a Phillies or Pirates fan.
"I don't like them," she replied simply, a twinkle in her eye. "I like the Mets."
And, that was that.
Like many Mets fans, Katie is doomed to live in the past sometimes. She remembers that magical year of 1969 like it was yesterday.
"Nobody thought we could beat the Orioles, nobody!" she exclaimed.
"We showed them. They thought they were going back to Baltimore, but we won three games in a row."
Page 3 of 3 - Katie's favorite player of all-time is Bud Harrelson.
A tough-as-nails shortstop who eventually went on to manage in Queens, Harrelson is best remembered for his ill-fated fight with Pete Rose in the 1973 NLCS.
To this day, Katie nurses a grudge for the punk who punched Buddy.
"I really don't like that man," she said of Rose, who's since been banned for life from baseball.
"I'm so mad at him. I'll never forgive him."
Katie's list of all-time favorite Mets also includes Gary Carter, Ray Knight, Wally Backman and Seaver.
Katie confesses a crush for Emmy Award winning color commentator Ron Darling ("He's handsome!") and respect for his colleague, the sometimes acid-tongued Keith Hernandez ("He's all baseball!")
She also likes this current crop of hard-charging youngsters, but isn't sure that they'll be back in the World Series anytime soon.
"I hope I'll be around to see it," she said with a sigh. "I really like them. They never give up, but I'm going to be 97 in August..."
Katie's family is planning a big "Pinochle Party" for that festive day. However, if I know Katie, she'll be sneaking away from the card table.
So, here's to Katie and the Boys of Summer!
I'll be thinking of her on August 1 and wishing she might enjoy 51 more years of rooting for our beloved, bumbling Mets.