By Matty Goldberg
We all have heard about the infamous Billy Goat at Wrigley field sometime at the beginning of the 20th century. But what history never documented was that in 1992 two goats were in attendance at Shea stadium for the Mets opening day game. That’s right, Matty Goatberg and Joey No Chill Praino, were both in the stadium. Little did they know they’d meet twenty five years later in Los Angeles.
We were just starting our middle school days, so this was before 7 and 5/8ths behind the balls (If you listen you the podcast you should get the reference). There was no dent in my head and I’m guessing there was no mustache on Praino’s handsome face. And somewhere in Philly, Kobe Bryant was being a ball hog in a junior high gym.
I always wonder if I walked by Praino that day. It was a long shot considering Shea held 50,000 plus. But I have run into some random strange ass people at sporting events. I wonder what our conversation would be if we had met.
“Dude, twenty four years later we’re going to perform in some dudes living room in Huntington Beach, and get paid in chicken fingers. Oh and thanks for having my back when that surfer dude tried to kill me cause I made a joke about his drunk girlfriend. Oh, and I shit you not. One day you will throw out a first pitch here in a beautiful new ballpark to a brain dead catcher. And your brother will show his nuts on a portable video phone. Periscope is the future dude.”
Yes, that’s the journey of a comedian.
From 1990 to 1994 I skipped school and went to opening day at Shea Stadium. I was a Red Sox fan, but my high school pal Eric Kutcher loaded up two cars driven by his mom and grandma, and six high school losers journeyed two hours to the ballpark. It was the one day you could skip school, and no teacher or parent would even question it.
This was at a time when baseball was the biggest sport in America. It was just a few years before the NFL and the emergence of fantasy took over. And this was the season that the Mets were supposed to be a major contender. I wasn’t a Met fan but there was this excitement in the air that they would be a major contender. They signed free agent Bobby Bonilla, and big time pitcher Brett Saberhagen…Both New York natives.
It was also an exciting day because it was the first game for the newly formed Colorado Rockies. Every fan felt like they were a part of history. And even though Shea Stadium was a cold, windy dump with planes flying over it, there was a sense of tradition and camaraderie.
Dwight Gooden pitched a shutout and Bobby Bonilla went yard for a 2-0 victory. Even though it was windy and cold, everyone left happy. The game gave hope that it would be a great season for Praino’s Mets. Unfortunately, it was an awful season as the 1992 New York Mets were deemed, “the worst team money can buy.”
I guess I am writing this because I’m feeling pretty damn nostalgic while watching opening day baseball. During the cold winters in New York, I used to count the days for the first Monday of April so I could get to the ballpark. Throughout the years, I lost that feeling. But for some reason it’s all coming back. Opening day is pretty damn special.