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Citi Field streaker glum over ban from stadium

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With the New York Mets’ playoff hopes dashed and the organization looking toward the 2010 season for redemption, the exploits of the College Point man who ran nearly naked across the field back in May seem like a distant memory.

But Craig Coakley was the center of a maelstrom of politicians’ scorn and the media’s laughter for a while. Now he looks back on the incident not a changed man, but a banned one. On May 12 he was sitting in field-level seats in the new stadium when he took off his clothes and placed a stuffed monkey around his waist before jumping onto the field as the game was in progress.

The 29-year-old pleaded guilty last month to interfering with a professional sporting event and was sentenced to a conditional discharge, a $3,000 fine, 20 days of community service and a one-year banishment from Citi Field.

More troubling, however, was the Mets’ unofficial penalty: Coakley is indefinitely banned from all Mets venues, including Citi Field and KeySpan Park in Brooklyn.

“I was devastated,” Coakley said in an e-mail. “I never meant to offend anyone, and regardless of whether or not the Mets organization lifts the ban, I will be a Met fan until the day that I die.”

Coakley wants to set the record straight: He was not motivated by a bet.

“In conversation with the arresting officer I mentioned my boss was pretty cool and would probably pay me for the week,” he said. “The press took the statement and ran with it.”

Instead he said he was motivated by a desire to entertain.

“I’m a singer/songwriter and performer, and realized how serious and depressing society has become,” Coakley said. “I wanted to bring some fun and levity into people’s lives and knew I’d have a captive audience at Citi Field. Judging from the thousands of e-mails I’ve received from people all over the country supporting me, I succeeded.”

Coakley’s band, One Time, is currently in talks with several record labels, talent agents and managers, he said.

But while Coakley lamented the expenditure of taxpayer money on the case, one Queens elected official said the punishment had to outweigh the publicity.

“In these trying times, our police and security need to concentrate on real threats and not be forced to waste time on knuckleheads looking for their 15 minutes of fame,” City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) said in the wake of the incident.

Now that the team is retooling for the upcoming season, slashing ticket prices by as much as 20 percent following this year’s lackluster performance, Coakley has another suggestion.

“I think the baseball gods approved of my offering that night at Citi Field, granting us a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves,” he said. “Maybe streaking should be a regular fifth inning tradition. I don’t think Mets fans would mind as long as we’re winning games.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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