Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 10 July 2009 00:00
Keith Hernandez held a book signing June 27 at Borders of Westbury and hundreds of baseball fans had an opportunity to receive autographed copies of the former first baseman’s new book, Shea Good-Bye: The Untold Inside Story of the Historic 2008 Season. Hernandez also took some time out before the signing to speak with Anton Community Newspapers about his years in Flushing and the demolition of Shea Stadium.
Hernandez began his major league baseball career in 1974 as a first baseman with the National League St. Louis Cardinals. He remained in St. Louis for nine seasons, taking home a World Series title in 1982. The following year, Hernandez was traded to the New York Mets and in the seven seasons that followed, added a second World Series title (1986) and a National League playoff berth (1988) to his résumé. In 1990, the Mets let Hernandez go and the five-time All Star and 11-time Gold Glove winner headed to Cleveland where he played his last year of major league baseball with the American League Indians.
Shea Goodbye, which hit bookshelves and online retailers April 30, is Hernandez’ third book; in 1986, he published If at First: A Season With the Mets and, nine years later, penned Pure Baseball. Through Shea Good-Bye’s 300-plus pages, Hernandez provides a behind-the-scenes overview of the Mets’ 2008 season – the final one at Shea – from the off season signing of pitcher Johan Santana and midseason dismissal of manager Willie Randolph to the club’s disappointing final game and failed postseason berth to the ceremony marking the end of the 44-year-old stadium.
“It was a very disappointing season. It was sad that it ended the way it did,” Hernandez told Anton Community Newspapers, adding that, in his opinion, many fans would have probably felt differently about seeing the home of the Amazins’ come down had the 2008 season ended differently. “The Mets haven’t had many winning years in their history. There have been a lot of bad finishes,” Hernandez said, adding that he, personally, was not sad to see Shea Stadium come down to make way for Citi Field. “Met fans have always had more of an attachment to Shea than the players,” he said.
Although he did not take any mementos from Shea Stadium for his own personal collection, Hernandez said he does still have the nameplate that hung above his locker during his seven-year stint with the Mets. In fact, he admits Shea will forever remain a soft spot for him. “I will never forget Shea and everything that happened there over the years, the good as well as the bad,” he writes in Shea Good-Bye.
Hernandez, who has worked as a baseball analyst for the Mets on both SportsNet New York (SNY) and WPIX television since 2006, is hopeful that the new stadium will help the New York Mets turn a new page.
“Citi Field should be the symbol of the new Mets era, one of strength, dominance and success,” Hernandez writes, “It holds all the possibilities of a bright future. I like the fact that everything [is] new at Citi Field, that the 2009 season [is] a fresh start in every sense.”
At press time Monday, the 2009 season had reached the halfway point. The New York Mets have played 81 games and have a record at Citi Field of 22-17; their away record was 17-25. With an overall record of 39-42, the Mets were three games below .500 and four games out of first place behind National League East division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies (42-37), the 2008 World Series Champions.