On July 21, 2004, David Wright stepped onto Shea Stadium’s field to play third base for the first time. After Mike Piazza went down with an injury, the Mets moved Ty Wigginton from third to first and called up Wright from AAA Norfolk Tides. There was a lot of hope riding on Wright’s shoulders. He was the Mets first-round pick in the 2001 draft at number 38 and his progression was followed closely. Mets fans couldn’t wait to see the youngster take the field. In his first game, he went 0 for 4 with some nice glove work. The New York Times Headline for the game was, “Wright’s Debut: No hits, no gripes.” No gripes were a constant throughout his career. The next day, he got his first hit and went 1-4.
Something else happened on the day Wright received his first hit, my first child was born. Over the next several years, while David Wright was perfecting Third Base and becoming a rising MLB star, I was attempting to hit it out of the park as a dad. Back then, a day game ticket in the nosebleeds at Shea was $6. During those early years, I would place my infant son in a baby carrier and spend an afternoon at the ballpark. When my daughter arrived, I did the same with her. It wasn’t uncommon for me to plop down $6 at the ticket counter and walk in with a toddler and a baby. Since it was Shea, there were always open seats around us. And by the 5th inning, we made our way closer to the field. The security never stopped us from getting close to the action. During those early years, my son picked a favorite player – David Wright. We would sit as close to third base as we could. One of my son’s first sentences was, “Go, David Wright!” He cheered at the game, at home, everywhere. We bought him David Wright jerseys and his hero’s posters hung on his wall.
As David Wright’s career blossomed, my son grew older. David Wright earned the nickname Captain America after playing for Team USA and every year, a new poster of Cap went up on the wall. We were worried every time a new contract was discussed. But there wasn’t a reason to worry, David Wright always stayed home.
David Wright’s last game was on September 29, 2018, and my family of 6 watched all 14 innings of the Mets 1-0 victory over the Florida Marlins. During the game, I couldn’t help but look over at my 14-year-old son and recall the memories of him as the little boy who would scream, “Go, David Wright.” During these past 14 years, I’ve watched my son grow into a young man in front of a David Wright backdrop. I’ve coached him in baseball and soccer and pushed him to become a good athlete while asking him to make wise decisions and put others above himself. To stand up for those that don’t have a voice and to make home a priority. I used his hero as an example of how to work hard on and off the field.
Thank you, David Wright and The Mets for giving fans someone to look up to. Playing third base for the New York Mets, a role model took the field and gave us everything. He also did it off the field. We’re sad we’ll no longer see him running onto the field, but we are looking forward to wherever his career leads. I’m guessing networks are clamoring to get him as an analyst.
I’m also excited to see my son’s next stage. I don’t know where it will go. I no longer coach him and he runs onto a field with someone else shouting instructions while I sit on the sidelines and watch. But even then, there are times I recall tossing a ball with him in the backyard or pretending to just miss a soccer ball as it passed into a goal just to watch him celebrate. Now I’m celebrating. Celebrating a job well done for my son’s early years. And a job well done by Mr. Wright.
Now, let’s keep Conforto on the team for a long time. He’s my 6-year-old’s new favorite player. If only Citi Field offered $6 ticket.
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