I finally joined the 7 Line Army. Every time I looked to sign up in the past, either there was no availability or I wasn’t available. But all that changed for a September tilt on a Monday against the Braves. There were spots available and I grabbed two for me and my buddy Dave. It is getting even harder to get these seats as the 7 Line now offers tickets to all their events on a season’s pass (about 14 games). That is the definition of hardcore.
The 7 Line is full on hardcore. As the site says, “We are absolutely the largest organized supporters group in all of baseball.” And Fox in Los Angeles, of all places, had a great segment on them recently, with the bonus of Kevin Burkhardt, who was in Flushing when it all began, narrating. As great as last year was, if there was one thing I could change—besides the final outcome!—it would have been for Kevin Burkhardt and Bobby Ojeda to broadcast their insights as it all came together on SNY. But time marches on.
So does the 7 Line. It was four years ago, at the 50th birthday party for Faith and Fear in Flushing’s Greg Prince, that I got to talk to 7 Line General Darren Meenan about his burgeoning empire. It was just getting off the ground as an entity that sold T-shirts and we lamented how working in a world with a Mets focus can wear on your soul, if you’re lucky, and be like banging your head on an exposed piece of Shea Stadium pipe if you’re not so lucky. But Darren persevered and the following season he had his first 7 Line road outing to Wrigley Field. His group has not slowed down since, going to 15 other road games (five of them in the other country that is the Bronx).
The 7 Line experience began at McFadden’s with beer specials and some mixed camaraderie. I missed the cue for all to head in, but we got to our seats in the second-to-last row shortly before first pitch. With so many regulars, it is easy to follow along with the cheering for two strikes and then the “Strike You Out” chant when someone K’s. There were kids there and grown ups who are definitely kids, along with the requisite Mets yakking, beer drinking, food chomping, and battling for T-shirts that are invariably canned into the sea of 1,700 arms.
As for attendance, there were 859 of us in section 141 in centerfield. That is roughly 3 percent of the 29,665 in the house Monday. Someone sitting in the other 97 percent of the seats might have thought the place a little dead—especially after the rare dud tossed by Noah—but given that my ears are still ringing from the Thunder Sticks slammed together all around me, it seemed pretty lively to me.
At $45, it was just about the lowest price they had this year, which is comparable or cheaper than most seats you’ll find on Stub Hub (those seats don’t include a cool T-shirt). And it was worth every penny. When a guy with 7 Line seats in line during last year’s playoffs told me that there is a postseason lottery for people who have bought tickets during the year, I thought that was the final motivation for induction into this Army. Not that I expect any such windfall from the ballclub or the 7 Line because, let’s face it, this is still the Mets and panic and disappointment are the chief exports. But I will remember my first 7 Line foray for some time to come. Maybe I’ll even finagle myself onto a road trip some day.
Oddly, one of things that sticks with me most was that amidst the cacophony, beer guzzling, and gob stuffing, someone behind me sneezed. In front of me came a very quick, “God bless you.” And God bless you 7 Line for doing the Lord’s work of Mets proselytizing, and doing it right.
Not everyone can pursue a business model that is solely Mets, and I have two reissues of books I co-wrote that celebrates other teams. If I did not enjoy it, I would not do it. Cubs by the Numbers (with Al Yellon and Kasey Ignarski) is now out, as is Red Sox by the Numbers with Bill Nowlin. This is the summer of numerology, as Mets by the Numbers re-issue with Jon Springer is better than ever and more number-y!