Whether drawn by longstanding loyalty or the hype surrounding the new Mets' line-up, which includes some big-name acquisitions slated to debut with the Amazins' this season, ticket seekers began hanging around outside the venerable stadium as early as Thursday. By the end of the day, which featured a visit from former Mets star Darryl Strawberry and fellow members of the 1986 championship team, the franchise sold a record total of more than 130,000 tickets at Shea, online and through several clubhouse shops, said Mets spokesman Ethan Wilson. "I think people are fired up," he said the new line-up. "When I came Friday afternoon, there were people all the way over there," said Shea security guard Bob Hammer. "I would say there were about a dozen people when I came in about 1:30 (p.m.) on Friday."Hammer, 71, a Brooklyn native who moved to Saratoga six years ago, has worked at Shea since it opened in 1964. And he said Sunday's turnout was up over previous seasons."Definitely more people because of the new ballplayers," he said. "Expect a good season."Carlos Beltran, who signed with the Mets in January, will face off with his former Houston teammates at the home opener April 11. And in December pitcher Pedro Martinez sidestepped a contract with the Boston Red Sox he helped guide to a World Series win last season to join the Mets line-up this year.Since landing the big-name talent, the Amazin's have been on a publicity tear, touting the team as the "new Mets." So far it seems to be working.Tickets for the home opener and the Mets vs. Yankees series on May 20-22, are already sold out, the Web site said Sunday evening. The Web site also said fans could expect delays when purchasing tickets online because of high demand.Outside the stadium, Matt Hoey, a 29-year-old teacher's assistant from Newburgh, was first in line, arriving outside Shea at 5 a.m. Thursday and completing what has become a seven-year-old tradition of camping out despite the temperatures that dipped below the freezing mark."That was a crazy day," Hoey said by phone from his home. "It was worth a couple of days." Hoey got there in time to score tickets to the coveted home opener and the May Mets vs. Yankees series, to which he said he plans to take some of his friends from work. After forking over $300 for the tickets, Hoey also said he got to snap a few pictures with Strawberry."I think they're really gonna do good," said Hoey, a Mets fan since 1982. "People have asked me and I told them, the Mets would win 91 games and we would the national wild card."We'll see what happens."Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@times
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