By Joseph Staszewski
Queens fans agree that the fun of the Subway Series is more then just about the action on the field.
The interaction between fans, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, parents and children and boyfriends and girlfriends is what continues to make the annual meeting between the New York Mets and New York Yankees something to look forward to.
The teams split their four meetings this season with both taking two games in the other club’s home ballpark, culminating in the Yankees’ 1-0 victory at Citi Field May 15. Flushing resident James Walker, a Yankees fan and his Mets fan wife Katie, said they rib each other and their families during the series.
“It’s always going to be fun because between the two of us it’s always going to be a rivalry,” James Walker said on the last day of the Subway Series in Queens. “Her whole family is Mets fans and I am a Yankees fan, so it’s always fun battling back and forth.”
Mike Keppel, of Bayside, is in the minority in his house when it comes to the Subway Series. His wife Kara is a Yankees fan along with his daughters Chase and Etana, who were both attending their first Subway Series game. Chase quickly tried to take the Mets hat off her head when her dad put it on.
“He spends a lot of nights during baseball season on the couch, but it’s OK,” Kara said jokingly. “We just like rooting for New York. It’s a good thing.”
The attraction of the games also brings Queens residents home to check out the action. Steve Storger, a Yankee fan from Far Rockaway, now lives in Miami but returned to go to all four games with either his father or sister Melissa.
“We grew up Yankee fans and we live in Miami now,” Steve Storger said. “It’s family time and everything, too.”
The days also allowed fans to see Yankee Capt. Derek Jeter play his final game in Flushing. The Mets presented the future Hall of Famer with a special Subway Series cake made by “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J.
Jeter also received a special painting featuring the Nos. 4 and 7 trains and the Empire State Building along with a subway tile mosaic featuring his No. 2 and pinstripes in the Mets and Yankees colors.
The Mets organization also donated $22,222.22 to his Turn 2 foundation, which motivates young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol, and Jeter was presented with a check by Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon.
Jeter was jokingly hoping for more in what could be seen as a jab at the Mets’ financial woes.
“You sure it’s not $222 [thousand]?” he said.
Wilpon awkwardly responded, “No, no, no” before Jeter made it clear he wasn’t serious. He thanked the Mets for their generosity and reminisced about his time playing in the Subway Series. Jeter said his first Subway Series in 1997 and the 2000 World Series were his most memorable installments. No matter where he played, the fans made each game feel important.
“What’s special is the energy in the stadium in all four, old Yankee Stadium, the new Yankee Stadium, Shea and Citi,” Jeter said. “It’s the fans that remain the same and the fans who make it fun for us, regardless of the standings or where any team is or how they’re playing.”
Most fans would like to see the Mets and Yankees go back to playing six games, three in each ballpark like they did from 1999-2012 instead of the current format with Major League Baseball scaling back interleague play.
“Before kind of split it up a little bit,” Katie Walker said. “It feels like this is it. It’s over.”
Mets Manager Terry Collins said he is fine with the way things are now because the atmosphere around the games is so different than the rest of the regular season.
Mike Keppel can see how playing division rivals later in the season would be more appealing.
“If I was a Yankees fan, I’d rather play the Orioles or the Red Sox,” he said.
Even so, the games don’t have the same feel as the Mets and Yankees playing each other because of the friendly to heated rivalry between their fans.
“I don’t like Yankee fans,” said Astoria resident Michael Hernandez. “It’s always nice to be beat the Yankees.”