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Goodbye to Shea

August 11, 2008 - John Mehno

The Pirates won Monday, scoring an improbable come-from-behind win in their afternoon make-up game. It was their last game in Shea Stadium, which will close in September.

The Pirates opened Shea in 1964 by beating the Mets. It was all new and shiny then, but it's hard to imagine people were actually excited about it. Shea disproved the notion that everything is bigger and better in New York.

The stands were too steep, with the upper deck offering the same view you'd get from a low-flying airplane. People in those top seats got a frighteningly good view of planes because Shea was in the takeoff and landing pattern for LaGuardia airport. Landing wasn't bad, but the engines roaring on takeoff could drown out conversations even with people who talk as loudly as Beano Cook.

The visitors clubhouse is tiny and has a cave-like corner where the clubhouse guy has his office. The path from clubhouse to dugout looks like a Halloween haunted house, complete with rats. The steps that lead into the dugout have chipped concrete and represent an obstacle course.

The elevator to the press box usually doesn't work, so it's up the ramps. The press box has a low ceiling and seems to slope forward. The entire park is plagued by an unfortunate smell.

They had the All-Star game there in 1964 and never went back. Pittsburgh hosted the All-Star game three times in that same span. What does that tell you?

There's always a tug of sentimentality when a ballpark is razed. That's happening now in Detroit with old Tiger Stadium. It's hard to imagine anyone will be wistful when Shea Stadium comes tumbling down.

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