As Citi Field hosts the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday and the All-Star Game on Tuesday, NY1's Budd Mishkin presents a different kind of "One On 1" piece. He is not profiling an influential New Yorker, but heads out to the ballpark to check on preparations and to take a look back at the Mets' last time hosting the All-Star Game, in 1964.
Much has changed since the last time the Mets hosted the All Star Game, in Shea Stadium's first year of 1964, but not everything.
Marla Miller is overseeing the details this week at Citi Field. She is Major League Baseball's senior vice president in charge of special events, and has overseen every All-Star Game since 1998.
"It'll probably be a no-fly zone, and that's not unusual during all of the game events here at Citi Field, not unlike what they do during the U.S. Open," says Miller. "Each market that we go to has a unique set of circumstances. Some are more challenging than others. If you go into some of the other markets where we've hosted All-Stars, the cities are more consolidated. Here we're trying to include all five boroughs."
For the Mets franchise, this week represents not just a series of events, but an opportunity, so attention must be paid to everything.
David Newman, the Mets' senior vice president of marketing and communications, says the All-Star Game gives the organization a chance to promote its ballpark and franchise to an international audience.
"This will become the auxiliary media center with TV, with WiFi. This entire area will seat 400 to 500 people among a contingent of global press that will exceed 4,000," Newman says. "This will be hopping from the moment that the gates open."
Hosting an All-Star Game means a lot of special touches, in the stands and on the field. There are also a lot of special touches at the food concessions, where among other things, the stadium is expected to sell 37,000 hot dogs and 7,000 pounds of pastrami. It's about making everyone happy, and I do mean everyone.
"During the season, Mr. Met does have an office here, so Mr. Met got a big, nice All-Star game, and Mrs. Met," says Newman. "She came out on the Kiss Cam with Mr. Met."
It's also a chance to create some memories in a relatively new stadium that's seen more sorrow than joy, a ballpark that -- Mets fans need not be reminded -- has not yet hosted a game in post season.
"Hosting the All-Star Game is one of those iconic memories that for everyone in attendance, working on it and watching it at home, there will be special memories coming from that experience no matter how you experience it."
With the All-Star Game being played at Citi Field this year, it understandably brings to mind memories of the stadium that used to stand there -- Shea Stadium.
When the Mets first hosted the All-Star Game in 1964, Shea Stadium was in its initial season. Optimism was in the air, despite the team's woes on the field. Johnny Callison of the Philadelphia Phillies won the game for the National League with a three-run home run in the ninth inning.
Shea would eventually become known for its imperfections, and few people mourned its loss, certainly as compared to Yankee Stadium.
But in 1964, Shea represented the game's move to bigger, more spacious ballparks, with large parking lots, catering to the country's expanding suburbs. And there was an excitement about it. The nostalgia for smaller, old time neighborhood ballparks, manifested in the architecture at Citi Field, was still very much in the future.
Shea had its share of special moments. In 1969, the Amazin' Mets, worst to first, beat the favored Baltimore Orioles in the World Series for the franchise's first championship.
In 1986 came the second World Series title, and game six against the Boston Red Sox was the comeback that still defies the imagination.
Perhaps the stadium's most meaningful night was on September 21, 2001, the first game played in New York after the September 11th attacks.
But the memories created at a ballpark are not confined to historic games. They can come at any time, and they are often quite personal.
Newman started going to Shea in the early 1970s, once getting tickets through a method unheard of in this day and age of StubHub and the Internet.
"I was at Willie Mays Night through either Dairy Lee or Dell Wood, I don't remember which milk brand it was. You sent in a thousand little coupons, and someone at Shea Stadium actually had to go through them," Newman says.
The history celebrated at Citi Field extends beyond the Mets, and beyond the baseball diamond, with the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
"That's a statement more than just baseball, certainly. And it allows you the opportunity to tell somebody something related to Jackie Robinson and that's always a very important and significant and meaningful message, whether the person is a baseball fan or not," says Newman.
For Mets fans, the hope is that the attention Citi Field is getting for the All-Star Game will someday soon be replicated at World Series time.
The All-Star Game, understandably, is played at all of Major League Baseball's venues. The 2008 All-Star Game was played at the old Yankee Stadium, and now with this years game in Queens, it's not likely New York will host another all-star game for quite some time.