Opening day is just over a week away. So today I took the train to Connecticut to meet a group of New York Mets fans that has been meeting just before the season starts for almost 35 years. The group started as part of a Bill James initiative called Project Scoresheet.* The Project organized groups of fans for each major league team to score games with its computer database, and those groups met just before the season started to divvy up who would score which games. I joined the group in 1990, shortly before Project Scoresheet disbanded. But our group captain was a sociable organizer, and the group continued to meet every March, to discuss baseball and the fate of the Mets, and play baseball trivia.
I’m not great at baseball trivia. I don’t remember who pitched, or even won, the first game I ever saw. I can’t tell you the lineups, positions, or numbers of every player on the New York Mets since their creation. But I know enough to guess that it was Tom Seaver who made 11 opening day starts for the Mets. I know that Terry Pendleton of the Cardinals hit a home run that dashed the Mets hopes for winning the NL East for a second year in a row (I was there). I know just enough not to make a fool of myself in a friendly baseball trivia game.
Today we met at the Cask Republic, a bar/restaurant serving a multitude of craft beers. Everyone but me lives in Connecticut, so South Norwalk is a central location. These occasions are the only time I drink beer, but today I went for a very exotic sangria mix (it included coconut rum). In between eating, entering the Mets 2017 wins pool, and playing trivia (I came in last), we watched the UConn women beat UCLA.
I donated Jack’s two Mets hooded sweatshirts – too big to fit me – as prizes, and showed around the rookie baseball card for Darryl Strawberry that I was given while in California, by a friend of a friend’s husband who happened to have been Strawberry’s high school Government teacher. When he learned I was a big Mets fan, he gave me the laminated card.
There was still hulking piles of dirty snow here and there in Norwalk.
But the train station had some very interesting historic artwork, characteristic figures of many eras, from a Civil War soldier (right) to civil rights marchers (left).
*Bill James is a baseball historian and statistician, and Project Scoresheet was a method of scoring games for computer input and collecting the information to sell to fans and teams. It was supplanted by Stats Inc. and the Elias Sports Bureau. I love this scoring method because it counts balls and strikes.)