I was in the mountains of Vermont last Monday when award-winning violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman made headlines with his rendition of the National Anthem and kickoff to the Subway Series; when I returned to internetland I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by footage and photos of Perlman in a Mets jersey (number 70, so perhaps a Wilfredo Tovar jersey, if such a thing is possible?). Intrigued, I began poking around the internet to see if there was more information on Perlman’s fandom, and sure enough his official website had posted the video of his performance and dubbed him a Mets fan in the caption, while the classical music agency Primo Artists recapped the event noting Perlman was “long known for his love of baseball and the New York Mets.”
Celebrity fans often capture the interest of us mere mortals—why? I’m not sure I can even articulate my own excitement on the topic—usually celebrity news is not my thing. But Perlman in particular got me thinking about the diversity of culture, experience, and talent that makes up the Mets’ fan base, thanks in large part to the team’s home in America’s largest city, and in part, I think, because it takes a certain kind of fortitude to root for a team like this one. Maybe, as the Mets continue to flounder post-trade deadline, it’s just nice to know you’ve got a mensch like Perlman in your corner. To that end, here are a few others from the talented cadre of famous Mets fans:
Okay, so I’m a book nerd. But even if you’re not, it’s likely you’ve heard the name Harper Lee. Perhaps you read, (or were forced to read) her Pulitzer-prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird as a teenager; maybe you’ve heard about her friendship with Truman Capote, or rumors about her famed reclusiveness; perhaps you caught her in more recent news cycles when her lawyer uncovered (and published, with much controversy) an earlier and drastically different draft of her novel, or when Lee passed away early this year. But what many don’t know is that Harper Lee had a secret apartment on the Upper East Side and was what her friend Marja Mills called, “a rabid Mets fan.” Lee’s biographer Charles Shields noted that Lee frequently wore a Mets cap, while Smithsonian magazine called her fandom “the natural choice for someone with an underdog thing as big as the Ritz.” Ya gotta believe, Atticus.
Perhaps related to the team’s penchant for heartbreaking is their comedian-heavy fan base (you need to have a sense of humor about these things). Other comedians to frequent Citi Field include Chris Rock, Kevin James, Ray Romano, and Jon Stewart. Seinfeld, possibly the Mets’ most well-known fan, has been dubbed in an interview with ESPN an all-around “MLB superfan.” The Long Island native says his earliest baseball memory is of walking the tunnel into Shea with his dad, and recalled watching many a game in the basement of his parents’ house, rooting for his favorite player, Tommie Agee.
Seinfeld and fellow comedian Chris Rock, also a Mets fan since childhood, have been spotted together at Citi Field multiple times, and their reaction to a Granderson home run in Game 3 of the NLCS last year made the rounds on sports sites across the internet. Rock also did a scathing and important monologue on HBO “Inside Sports” about the dwindling number of African-American baseball fans, and what the MLB needs do to promote interest among the next generation, especially in urban neighborhoods.
So there’s been some debate about whether Joel goes for the Mets or the Yankees—while fans sing along to “Piano Man” at Citi Field, songs like “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Zanzibar” reference the Yankees. But even if he does swing both ways, he might be the one guy who could get away with it—Joel is really an iconic New Yorker above all, and he and his music are entwined in team history, from Last Play at Shea in 2008, to Joel’s National Anthem performance in Game 3 last year. Joel is said to have played “Meet the Mets” at concerts during the 2015 team’s run up to and through the playoffs, so even if it wasn’t always the case, I’ll take that as a sign of a convert.
Hailing from Queens, the Emmy-award winning actor known for his voice and character acting including voiceover for the Simpsons’ Moe, Apu and Chief Wiggum, (and my personal favorite film role of Agador Spartacus in the Birdcage), is a big fan of his home team. He showcased his Mets love on the MLB Network, where he talked about the team and did a play-by-play in his some of his most famous voices, including Moe’s charming take on the 1986 World Series: “But somehow, they’re gonna blow it somehow anyway. Even though they actually won. Still, they’ll find a time machine, go back in time and erase that World Series victory.”
Here’s hoping Moe’s gloomy forecast isn’t right. But either way, at least we’re in good company.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports