September 28, 2008. Last Game at Shea Stadium: Mets v. Marlins. Somehow, we secured boxed seats, which were behind the Marlins’ dugout. Thrilling day – we were celebrating my birthday. I’m not a big baseball gal, but I love watching any game live – and it was Shea’s finale.
I sat next to this guy, whose name I don’t even remember, but I’ll call Carl. I mentioned it was my birthday.
“No kiddin’?” Carl says, and then calls out to the Marlins’ ball boy: “Hey, it’s this lady’s birthday. Can we have a ball?”
The kid grabs a ball and tosses it to us. Carl– a guy I did not know – proceeds to get several celebrities to sign the ball for me, telling them it’s my birthday. (I’m talking Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close and some baseball players who I don’t know).
But that’s not the best thing.
What really got me was Carl himself. The Mets were struggling most of the game. Carl had several signs that he would hold up periodically. My favorite: “You Gotta Believe!” Whenever the Mets messed up, Carl would hold up the sign and sing a little ditty: “You Gotta Believe, You Gotta Believe, You Gotta Believe, You Gotta Believe!”
I had never before connected to the Met’s famous saying (from pitcher Tug McGraw in 1973). But it was the highlight of that awesome day in 2008. Better than the signed baseball, better than the iconic experience. I loved Carl’s reaction to setback.
The Mets lost. (Marlins 4 – Mets 2).
I still have that signed baseball, but I really treasure meeting Carl and hearing the Met’s chant.
This is what we teachers need in our lives: Carl’s faith, even when our team is down. It is a tough time now for teachers. The testing culture seems to be like the Dementors from Harry Potter – sucking our souls with each contact. It can feel debilitating and deflating.
We have to remember Carl. Even if we don’t have his sign, we “Gotta Believe,” we need to keep the faith. The students need us.
Written by Liz deBeer, NJCTE Board Member and editor of New Jersey English Journal
Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE