In 1964, Greg Zotian was gifted a New York Mets jersey on Easter Sunday. Greg was only six years old and his love for the Mets organization has only grown with age.
Greg Zotian has been traveling from his home state of New Jersey to Port St. Lucie, Florida to watch the New York Mets compete in spring training camp since 2015. Although, he has been a dedicated fan long before.
“My Grandmother got me a Mets Jersey for Easter 1964. That’s when I became a Mets fan. I was six years old. My favorite player was, and still is, Ed Kranepool. He played for the Mets from 1962 until 1979. I put his number 7 on the back of that Jersey. I still have it today,” said Zotian.
The Mets organization was barely two years old when Greg began his life-long devotion. In 1966, he visited the stadium for fan day and was suited up in a Mets uniform. Zotian had the opportunity to meet Jack Hamilton who pitched in the MLB for over ten years and played for the Mets organization from 1966-67. “I was about 9 in that picture,” said Zotian.
The Mets Impact
Zotian and the New York Mets were able to grow-up together. “The Mets are a big part of my life. They were new when I became a fan. I was six years old, the Mets were only two years old. The first seven years from 1962 to 1968 they were the worst team in baseball. On opening day in 1969, they played the Montreal Expos who were an expansion team playing their first game ever. The Mets lost 11-10 and the opposing pitcher hit a home run. I still remember that game. But from that point on, the Mets grew up with me from being a kid to becoming an adult. As we all know, they won the world series that year. From worst to first, The Miracle Mets. On my birthday that year, Ed Kranepool hit two home runs. I turned 12 so I also was moving from a kid to a young adult,” he explained.
Zotian’s Gameday Favorites
Zotian has attended more Mets games than one could count and some included the celebration of his bachelor party and several birthdays at the ballpark. He explained that his favorite season was in 1986.
“I watched almost every game that year. During my best friend’s wedding that year, I had a little watchman TV where I watched the game in the church during the ceremony. Gary Carter hit a double off the left-center field wall as my friend was saying “I do.” That year in my office, I had a large chart where each day I would update the Mets Magic number,” explained Zotian, “I was at the game when the Mets Clinched the Division that year on September 17th, 1986. I guess I have to say that was my favorite game I ever attended. We were able to run onto the field after the game, which I believe that’s the last time it was allowed to happen. I still have a piece of the outfield grass. I took off work to go to the ticker-tape parade down Broadway in NYC.”
In addition, Greg also remembers many games that he attended in the 60s with his father. He explained that he recalls one game that lasted over 20 innings. “We stayed for about 14, listened to it for over an hour on our ride home, then watch another hour on TV at home,” said Zotian.
The most surreal game that Greg attended was on August 2, 1979.
“The Mets were playing a doubleheader against the Phillies. It was the bottom of the first in the first game of the doubleheader and there was a rumbling in the stands. We heard on a telecast radio that NY Yankee Catcher Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash. After a few minutes, the scoreboard flashed a message ‘AP is reporting that New York catcher Thurman Munson was killed today in a plane crash near Canton, Ohio’. You know how loud a stadium is. When the message went up, the entire stadium went immediately silent. The game came to a halt as the players saw it and were stunned. Lee Mazzilli was the batter for the Mets and he walked out of the batter’s box and went back to the on-deck circle. The entire Phillies team in the field turned to the scoreboard and just stared at it (except for Pete Rose who looked at it, turned and got back into playing position at first base). Being in that silent stadium was again was the most surreal thing I ever experienced.”
To throw in a few more, Zotian also attended Tom Seaver Day, David Wright’s Last Game, The 50th-anniversary celebration for the 1969 team, and the Mike Scioscia game where Scioscia hit a home run in the 9th inning against Dwight Gooden to tie the playoff game. In addition, he attended Game 1 of the 2000 World Series and, “Game 5 of the 2015 World Series where Matt Harvey pitched a Gem of a game and talked Manager Terry Collins to let him come out for the 9th inning where he gave up the tying runs and the Mets eventually lost,” said Greg.
Greg was at the last game played at Shea Stadium where he had tickets right above the Mets Dugout for the game and the post-game festivities. He explained that he also attended one game at Shea Stadium and one at Yankee stadium. “I had tickets to both games so it was a real subway series as we took the subway to go from one game to the next and stopping in Manhattan in between games to eat and have more than a few beers,” said Zotian.
Zotian was able to recount specific games and details that the average fan would have never been able to do.
The Latest Update
To finally round out this incredible story, Zotian happened to run into his all-time favorite player, Ed Kranepool, just one day after this interview in a local restaurant in Port St. Lucie.
Zotian’s story has displayed his true love for the game and the impact that the Mets Organization, as well as the game of baseball, has had on his life. The Mets are truly lucky to have such a devoted and passionate fan represent their organization.