Do you remember the first baseball game you ever attended? You can probably recall some details vividly, while others slip your mind. Fandom develops fairly early, so you most likely went to your first game at a young age. You can’t be blamed if you cared more about cotton candy than you did about John Candelaria.
That’s not going to be the case with 101-year-old New York Mets fan Rudal “Rudy” Ahlen. She attended her first-ever Mets game in person Thursday, and the team made sure it was a memory she’ll never forget.
Ahlen got to hang out with a few Mets players before sitting in the first row behind home plate, according to Newsday. She seemed to enjoy the experience.
“This is a big thing for me; I just still can’t believe all this is happening,” she said after getting to meet Lucas Duda, David Wright and Jacob deGrom and before being escorted to the first row behind home plate in the Wilpon family’s seats.
“Nothing like this ever happened when I was younger. Why did it have to happen now when I’m older? Now I’m 102 next month, so I figured this is my birthday present . . . It’ll do. I’m satisfied.”
The Newsday profile, which is excellent, explains that Ahlen has always been a huge sports fan. She rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers until they left, and adopted the Mets in 1962, the first year of their existence. She’s pretty dedicated too, saying she never considered being a New York Yankees fan and even playing in a co-ed senior league when she was 65.
So, why did she wait so long to attend her first game?
“Because I couldn’t afford it,” she said. “And I was raising eight children . . . I didn’t have the time or money, so I couldn’t go. I was satisfied with the radio, until television came.”
Though the Mets lost 2-1, it was still quite the eventful game. The contest featured a controversial call in the top of the fourth inning when Wilmer Flores collided with a bat boy while attempting to catch a ball in foul territory. The play was initially ruled interference on the bat boy, but overturned by the umps. That decision led to manager Terry Collins being ejected. The Mets managed to overcome the call, inducing a double-play ground out to get out of trouble.
On top of that, it was the first time Mr. Met showed his face, and his finger, since Wednesday’s video that showed him flipping off a fan.
Overall, Ahlen enjoyed herself, but thinks she’ll stick to watching games at home for now.
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “Between the players and the excitement, it was too much for me. I guess I’m really old. I can’t take all this stuff.”
It took Ahlen one game at the park to sum up the entire existence of Mets fans in just a few sentences. Watching Terry Collins manage in person will do that.
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