Wins, losses, home runs or strikeouts, sometimes things happen at the stadium that are much more important than the game itself. This past Friday night was a prime example of that statement.
On Friday morning I was given two tickets by my friend MJ. We met through the brand and she sometimes invites us to the games when she has extra tickets. I was excited to see Harvey pitch his first big league game in NY, made a “Welcome to Queens” sign and head over to the ballpark with my girlfriend.
After strolling around for the first couple innings we head over to MJ and her crew in section 137. She introduced us to everyone and were instantly welcomed by this nice little girl named Izzie. She asked her mom for her iPad so she could show us some photos and we spent the next couple innings looking through the albums.
Izzie’s parents brought her everywhere! At only 6 years old she’s already been to spring training, Fenway, signings with Strawberry/Hernandez and Cooperstown just to name a few. She was always decked out in Mets gear and it was obvious how die hard the family is.
My girlfriend asked Izzies mom Eileen, “Is that your husband?” pointing to the man sitting a couple seats down from her. Eileen replied, “no he passed away”. My heart sunk, and then it clicked. I had already read about Eileen and her late husband Michael.
MJ had forwarded me this NY Daily News link on the morning of the All Star Game. R.A. Dickey, and Michael made a very strong connection in June of last season and coincidentally this was his family we just met. The hundreds of family photos we just looked through were of Michael, Eileen and Isabella. Michael passed away just before this season started and Dickey was pitching that night; which happened to be the same day as Eileen’s birthday.
From the NY Daily News article:
Last winter Mike Gitelson began to experience serious complications from the bone-marrow transplant. He was hospitalized three times. His immune system was already compromised from the Crohn’s. No medication or treatment could reverse his decline. At 6:18 p.m. on March 19, with the “Mets Yearbook” program playing on SNY, Mike Gitelson died in Room 243 of the bone-marrow transplant unit of Weill Cornell Medical Center. Two days later, he was laid to rest in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Maspeth, Queens. He was 40 years old and went into the earth wearing a gray R.A. Dickey T-shirt. “R.A. brought him so much joy, there was no question that’s what he wanted to wear,” Eileen Lopez says.
The Mets were losing 2-0, Harvey was done for the night, we were about to lose another game… and it didn’t even matter anymore. I was just happy to have met this little girl and her mother who shared their memories with us. Even if it was just a small portion of their photo album I am happy they had a chance to experience those memories before his untimely death.
I am so sorry for your loss Eileen. I am happy to have met you and Izzie. Meeting you guys was the highlight of our night. My girlfriend and I were touched by your story and I wish nothing but the best for the both of you. I could tell that you are both very loved by your caring family and friends. I am glad Izzie will have those great photographs to go along with the stories I am sure you’ll tell her about her father.
Baseball is important to me as it was to Michael, Eileen and Isabella. The game on the field was trumped by this meeting but I am happy that the sport itself brought so many cherished memories to their family.