Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shea still remains, at least on postcards.

Postcards are among the way-too-many things I collect, and I’ve had a lot of fun at work and on Facebook writing about the really bad ones.

Now that those are out of my system, I can focus on the other extreme – postcards showing baseball stadiums, especially those belonging to the Mets.

I’ve tried to collect stadium postcards from all the modern ballparks, and usually ask friends, relatives and co-workers to keep an eye out for the on their travels. Note, if you are on the go, I’m missing several.

But of course, all stadium postcard discussions start with Shea Stadium and Citi Field. Mostly Shea, that is, because I’ve struggled to find anything depicting the Mets new home and my glorious brick installed near the front door.

Actually, the selection for Shea is fairly slim, at least considering the bounty available in cities like S. Louis, where Busch Stadium postcards seem to rival those of the Arch.

I’ve come across two early Shea cards, both linked to the World’s Fair. Both are artist renderings, one showing the stadium and the whole waterfront and even part of the airport.

The second is more familiar, a painting that that was used in various team publications. I’ve not sure what’s casting the giant shadows in the parking lots.
The first postcard with an actual photo of Shea is again tied to the wonderful fair, with the stadium in the background and the spectacular Unisphere in front.

The first Shea-centric photo card I’ve found still has the World’s Fair logo, with a view looking into the horseshoe, but blocked by the back of the scoreboard. I’ve tried to figure out where the slightly elevated shot must have been snapped, and there are no postcards I’ve seen looking in unobstructed from beyond leftfield.

Another card uses the same photo, but with cartoon Mets and Jets players.

I’ve found two 1970s era postcards, a large one with a yellow border that just screams the decade. A second is probably the only Shea photo I’ve seen that allows us to see the New York skyline in the background – the real one, not the loveable plywood version that was atop the scoreboard for years. And the orange and blue panels are awesome.

I came across another Shea painting postcard, though it’s part of a tribute to the 1969 team, and there’s a card for every player, coach and even the broadcasters.
The 1980s were not kind to Shea postcards, and I’ve yet to find one with the deep blue paint job.

But there are two nice cards from the 2000s, both interior views, shot at night. One was part of a final season postcard set I found in the Mets gift shop.

The final Shea card – courtesty of Greg Prince – places the beloved ballpark in its proper place among treasured New York landmarks. It’s a general New York card, and we have a photo in the lower right showing the iconic spires of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Then the left side of the card is dominated by a view of the Manhattan skyline, taken, I think, from the south.

That left only room in the top right, and much of New York to represent. What image might be inserted to bring back warm memories of a trip to the Big Apple, or to tell a loved one, “Wish you were here” and really mean it? Lady Liberty might work, possibly Times Square. But are worthy, but why take a chance? The postcards producers wisely opted for a view of Shea.

With the arrival of the new ballpark and a hole in the collection, I spent part of my whirlwind New York trip in March searching high and low for a Citi Field postcard. Actually, I was confined to shops in and around Times Square , Penn Station and the Newark Airport. Denied.

So this artwork postcard will have to make do until I can make a return trip.

And, I suppose the spring training site at Port S. Lucie counts as a Mets home, and I have found one card showing what then was called Thomas White Stadium and the five practice fields.

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