Wilmer Flores hitting a walk-off home run vs. the Nationals on July 31, 2015, is the best Mets moment I ever witnessed live. Even if I wasn’t there, it would still be one of my favorite Mets memories. In fact, the whole day and evening is memorable.
Jen and I decided the night before it would be cool to take our out-of-town cousins – one a late teen, the other a pre-teen – to a Mets game. So, we made the impromptu two-hour drive to Citi Field the next day. Heading to pick them up, I was constantly scrolling through StubHub trying to find reasonable tickets for four. We wound up sitting in the upper deck, two rows from the tippy-top of Citi Field, right between homeplate and the Mets dugout. Those seats would give us a prime vantage for the big hit.
No re-telling of Wilmer Flores Night can omit the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes earlier in the day. While driving to the game, I was listening to WFAN to see if the Mets made any moves. (I am sure my passengers were thrilled listening to AM radio). It was at a Mobil station along the highway that I heard the Mets acquired Cespedes. My energy level went through the roof, as I was pounding the steering wheel, and getting even more amped with each mile that passed on our trek to Flushing.
When we finally did get into the stadium, I could feel the buzz of the crowd. We finally got the slugger our lineup needed and first pitch of a big three-game series against the first-place Nationals was right around the corner. It was also Free Shirt Friday… I mean, who isn’t happy receiving a free shirt?!
I was thrilled we got there early so that the kids were able to check-out batting practice, aspects of the stadium, and of course, get food. One of my favorite things to do at Citi Field is to eat at one of the picnic tables by the bullpen area. There’s something about eating, while watching Major League pitchers warm-up. And that’s where we were as the Dark Knight – Matt Harvey – took his warm-up tosses, with the rest of the starting rotation looking on.
Re-living The Game
We got to our seats just in time to see Wilmer Flores make a sweet diving stop in the hole between first and second and make the toss to record an out. And the crowd applauded loudly for Wilmer, who just a few days ago cried on the same field, as rumors of his apparent trade surfaced. At this moment, I thought this would be a special game. When Wilmer drove in a run in the 4th with a single, I knew this game would be special.
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
Full disclosure, as this game went on and the clock ticked closer to 11 – and eventually past 11 – the thought of leaving the game was real. I knew it was way past our cousin’s bed time, and the two-hour trek back home really didn’t feel like my idea of a good time in the moment. After the 9th, I would tell Jen in between innings that we’ll stay for one more Mets at-bat. Finally, heading into the 12th, I gave in to my own stubbornness with the nod that we should head out after this inning.
Tears of Joy
Fortunately, Wilmer Flores was the first batter-up. The crowd had thinned out pretty significantly by this point in the night. But I remember sitting at the edge of my seat for this at bat. I kept telling my group that Wilmer was going to get on base somehow. And then it happened.
A 1-1 pitch smacked to left-center. We all stood, but from the height of our seats, I honestly thought this was nothing more than a double off the wall. And then I noticed the Nationals’ center fielder slow down. And a split second later the game was over. Our group of four hugged and jumped around on the concrete below us, high-fiving the people behind us and screaming for Wilmer. It had happened. A storybook walk-off home run.
I didn’t notice it at the time, but Jen was quick to point out that Wilmer had pointed to the front of his jersey as he headed home, almost to say “I am proud to be with the Mets.”
It was one of the coolest moments I had ever witnessed.
What is your memory of the Wilmer Flores walk-off?