By Mark Carpenter –
I knew this day was coming. For the most part, sports careers have a short shelf life and the inevitably of eventual retirement is always there. I still vividly remember the tears I shed in 1979 when Roger Staubach said goodbye to the NFL and I am preparing myself for another deluge about 10 days from now when my son and I bid farewell to David Wright. I’ve written many times about Jordan and his love of the New York Mets, but let me explain how it all began.
My family and I were on vacation in Virginia Beach and decided to go over to Norfolk for a minor league baseball game, with the Norfolk Tides being the AAA affiliate of the Mets at the time. We had seats near third base and manning the hot corner that night for the Tides was some kid named Wright. As it turned out, that night was his final minor league game as he was called up to the majors the next day and from that point on, my boy has lived and died with David Wright and the Mets. Hard to explain, but it has been a wonderful ride for both of us.
Fathers and sons can bond in many ways and for us, it has always been baseball and David Wright has always been his baseball hero and he could not have picked a better one. Look up the word “class” and find David Wright’s picture. The memories that Jordan and I have centered around Wright and the Mets are indescribable, but the one that will always stand out took place in 2016. The Mets were coming off a World Series appearance and we decided to make a trip to spring training in Florida, basically with one goal in mind, for Jordan to meet David Wright.
After a couple of days of trying, our moment finally came on a small diamond in the back where Wright was taking infield. He came off the field, Jordan approached him and asked him if he’d take a picture with him and I then got the best photo I have ever taken and Jordan got a moment to remember forever. I then got the opportunity to talk to Wright and just simply thanked him for being who he was. I’m not one to go all gaga over professional athletes, but I thought that needed to be said and the card that he signed for me is right her in front of me on my desk, the most meaningful autograph in my collection.
If you have followed professional baseball the past couple of years, you know that the baseball gods have not been kind to David Wright. Injuries have robbed the game and the Mets of one of their greatest players and recently “Captain America” made the announcement that this would be his final season and that he would start one more game at third base, that coming on September 29.
One of the things that we as parents try to do is give our children moments and memories that they will always remember. Within minutes after Wright’s announcement, I got a phone call. Jordan was on the other end and simply said, “Dad we’re going.” It didn’t take me long to figure out what he meant, he’d been talking about this for a long time and I knew the day would come. When I called his mother, I simply said, with tears in my eyes, “I cannot deny him this moment.”
So now I have two tickets to a September 29 game at Citi Field in New York. Don’t know yet how I’m getting there or where I’m staying but I know that my son will be in the stadium when his Captain America lays down his shield for the final time. I know that it will be an extremely emotional moment for both of us, but on the other hand, it will be priceless.