New Yorker: On the Mets 50th anniversary celebration at Hofstra

From Seth Berkman at The New Yorker on May 1, 2012, with mention of SABR members Judy Johnson, Mike Cesarano and Mark Simon:

On Thursday, Hofstra University kicked off a three-day academic conference celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the New York Mets. Inside the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center—which has previously hosted scholarly conferences on chocolate, James Bond, and U.S. Presidents—a mix of professors, journalists, and season-ticket holders discussed the cultural relevance of the beleaguered franchise.

The lineup of topics included “The Mets and Judaism,” “The Mets and Hispanic Fans,” and “The New York Mets as Punk Rock.” Aside from the occasional attempt to draw parallels between the careers of say, the bassist Dee Dee Ramone and catcher Choo-Choo Coleman, a number of the papers focussed on the Mets’ symbiotic relationship with the written word. Steve Amarnick, an English professor at Kingsborough Community College, opened with “A Long Journey: Teaching Homer’s Odyssey and the Mets.”


Judy Van Sickle Johnson, a former English teacher at Phillips Academy, presented “Literature, the New York Mets, and the Tug of Baseball.” She summed up (Jose) Reyes’s return with a local literary comparison:

It’s a little like Jay Gatsby seeing Daisy Buchanan again—the woman he loved so passionately and innocently in his youth, hated losing, and now she’s back in his life, as beautiful as ever. But she doesn’t really want him anymore, and he can’t have her. It’s a bittersweet experience—the love he feels for her is still genuine and it’s still there, but his affection is mixed with the ache of longing and the sting of loss.

In “The Great Gatsby,” Fitzgerald described a stretch of wasteland along West Egg as a “valley of ashes.” Since 1964, the Mets have called that spot home.

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Originally published: May 1, 2012. Last Updated: May 1, 2012.