Following Johan Santana’s evisceration of the Padres batting order this afternoon, Banner Day festivities return to Citi Field Sunday for the first time in 16 seasons, just one of the many bones (Doug Sisk Bobblehead Day, Reputation.com’s Todd Hundley Mouse Pad Night) Mets ownership is throwing fans during this 50th Anniversary season. While club mouthpiece David Howard warned that banners displaying controversial content might be nixed (“we’ll know it when we see it”), Faith & Fear In Flushing‘s Greg Prince recalled Banner Day 1993 in the pages of The New York Times…and he’s a little fuzzy on the details.
These were sour times at Shea, with the club sunk to seventh in a seven-team N.L. East and players detonating firecrackers, squirting bleach and evincing general misanthropy. I don’t remember what the banners I witnessed that August afternoon said exactly, but I clearly remember what they didn’t say.
I kept waiting for “Jeff Kent Can’t,” “Anthony Young Is Prematurely Old” or “Chico Walker Should Take a Hike,” but such hostility was not in evidence, as far as I could tell. Instead, it was lots of love and lots of hope for a team unlikely to engender either.
For sure, irreverence has been part of Banner Day; sarcasm has sneaked in, too. But there was always a celebratory nature to the event that overwhelmed whatever misery and miasma afflicted the fan base in a given season. To go to the trouble of creating banners, schlepping them, lining up and waiting, sometimes interminably — one year there was an 18-inning first game of a Banner Day doubleheader — requires more devotion than anger.