On April 25, 2000, I went to Shea Stadium with a group of friends to see Ken Griffey Jr.‘s first game there with the Reds. This was after he demanded trade out of Seattle but blocked a deal that would’ve sent him to the Mets, so you can imagine how he was received by the 27,153 in attendance. He went 0-for-3 with two walks, striking out twice to huge cheers against starter Al Leiter and then a third time to end the game, a 6-5 Mets win, with the tying run on first base.
But that’s not what stands out in my memory 19 years laster. We were sitting in the left-field mezzanine in one of the few sections that’s actually in fair territory. It gave us a pretty good bird’s-eye view of Rickey Henderson patrolling left field for the Mets. Those in the suites below us, or in the loge section below that, were even closer.
Some of these next details are a little hazy. I think, though I’m not sure, that there may have been some good-natured back-and-forth between Rickey and some fans in the loge section or the suites. Fans might’ve been asking for a ball after his between-inning warmups, or after he caught the final out of an inning. And in one of those instances where he could easily toss a souvenir to a fan, he may have faked it — acting as if he was about to toss it, and then pulling it back and throwing it in, or jogging back to the dugout for the bottom of the frame.
Rickey may have gotten a chuckle out of it, but the fans sure didn’t. As the game went on — and the fans no doubt consumed more beverages — they started throwing … hot dogs. No buns, just the tubes of meat. Considering the cost of a hot dog at a ballgame, and the fact that they were bunless, I’m certain they came from one of the suites, where there was probably a buffet setup and an ample supply. By the end of the game, there must’ve been two or three dozen hot dogs littered around left field.
And that’s what I remember about that game. I had to look up Griffey’s line.