The weekend I joined the Army

By Mark Carpenter – 

One of our favorites here at the Defender took a huge step in his life last weekend. Landon Wright, whom we all call “Trae”, graduated from Basic Training and is moving forward with a dream he has had since he was just a youngster. Perhaps inspired by Trae’s actions, I joined the Army too last weekend. No, I wasn’t in Fort Benning, but my Army recruitment station was in a restaurant/bar called Paddy-O’s in St. Louis.
For those of you who haven’t figured it out via Facebook, the army I tossed my lot in with was just a bit different than that of young Mr. Wright. I won’t be getting up at 5 a.m. for PT, won’t be making my bed and shining my boots every morning, won’t be left in the woods for hours and hours with no sleep, won’t be carrying a rifle, and won’t be singing with a bucket over my head. (Gomer reference there). All I have to do is learn a few chants and watch a baseball game with 1,000 other baseball fans, all of them inducted just as easily as I was, though there consumption of alcohol may earn them a much higher rank than I.
If you have ever been to a New York Mets game at Citi Field, you likely know that the easiest way to get there is to take the Subway, the 7 Line drops you off right in front of the park. In 2009, an avid Mets fan named Darren Meenan (@DarrenJMeenan on Twitter) decided to put together a Mets fan club of sorts, which he appropriately named “The 7 Line Army.” The whole premise was to sell a t-shirt that read “I Survived”, referring to another Mets’ losing season. That t-shirt became a hit and led to more and more shirts as the 7 Line became a clothing line moving from Meenan’s basement to its own store in New York City, but that was only the beginning.
In the last home game of the 2012 season, over 500 Mets fans adorned in their 7 Line attire sat together to cheer on their team. That concept blossomed into the group getting together often at home games and then scheduling road trips for weekend games, invading the home stadium of the Mets’ opponent. That’s where I come in.
It’s no secret in this column that my son is a live and die Mets fan and ever since he became aware of the 7 Line he has been talking about doing one of their road trips. He decided early this year that the group’s outing to St. Louis was close enough for us to go. Personally, I figured he had no chance of getting tickets when he went online, but he had secured four tickets within about five minutes and we were planning a July weekend under the Gateway Arch.
That trip was the first that all four of us (now including one Reds employee in a Mets shirt) had been able to take together since a trip to NYC in 2012 and to cut straight to the chase, the game was last Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium, a place I had never been. Anyway, the 7 Line always meets in a spot near the stadium before the game to “prepare” themselves for the day, which is how I ended up at Paddy O’s.
Now those of you who know me well, know that I am not the bar type so I really had no clue how to act around a few hundred folks in blue and orange who were helping themselves to “spirits”, until the DJ played Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and the whole crowd sang along. I know all the words to that tune so I knew I was good to sing along, it was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday.
After all of the 7 Line troops on hand were ready to head to the game came the coolest entrance to a ball game that I have ever been a part of. A thousand fans, all dressed in matching t-shirts, marched together to the stadium, carrying their 7 Line flags and chanting “Let’s Go Mets.” My boy even got to help carry one of the flags for a bit which was totally awesome to see.
One inside, the cheering and chants continued though the Mets didn’t give their soldiers much to yell about in a disappointing 4-1 loss, but my little brigade of four won’t remember the score years from now, just the unique experience. When you attend an outing of the 7 Line Army, you automatically become a member of the troops, so much easier than that 5 a.m. PT stuff. So, I am in the Army now, and likely the most out of shape soldier in history.
So Trae, congratulations to you on your first step of many, and to my family congratulations on your inductions to our own “Army”. Instead of “Let’ em blow from east to west, The US Army is the best”, we will be working on “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-struck! Him! Out! Woo!