Mets’ Opening Day brings eclectic crowd to Citi Field

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Photo gallery

Mets players stand on the first base line as “The Star Spangled Banner” is sung. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mets fans including Nick Caputi from Flushing cheer on their team. Photo by Christina Santucci
Glen Oaks resident Jackie Kozodoy looks festive in her blue and orange. Photo by Christina Santucci
Fans clamor for autographs. Photo by Christina Santucci
Andrew Tuzzl, 13, points out his family's brick. Photo by Christina Santucci
David Lewis holds a sign advocating for Mets owners to sell the team. Photo by Christina Santucci
Andres Voss takes his 9-year-old son Paul Arnold to the boy's first Opening Day. Photo by Christina Santucci
Coffe the dog sports sunglasses and a pipe. Photo by Christina Santucci
Alex Ruiz shows off ribs that he and fellow fans ate while tailgating. Photo by Christina Santucci
The plate is scene for the upper deck. Photo by Christina Santucci
Arnold Manaog of Rego Park wears a giant hat. Photo by Christina Santucci
New York Mets and Atlanta Braves players take the field. Photo by Christina Santucci
Randi Zevon and Bretta Nunez sport festive looks. Photo by Christina Santucci
Benjamin Tafuro, 10, tests out the T-ball field. Photo by Christina Santucci
Angel Caldero, 12, wears light-up glasses. Photo by Christina Santucci
Wig Man Louis Vazquez sports a different hair piece for different moods during the game. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mets third baseman hi-fives teammates. Photo by Christina Santucci
Relatives of Mets legend Gary Carter throw out the first pitches. Photo by Christina Santucci
Annie Neglia shows off her belly painted with a baseball in hopes that her baby would become a Mets fan. Photo by Christina Santucci
Billy Garry of Rockville Center is dressed as Bernie Madoff. Photo by Christina Santucci

Several Queens politicians attended Opening Day last week, but not everyone got a front-row seat for the Amazin’s’ win.

As the opening ceremonies kicked off to sunshine and temperatures nearing 60 degrees, fans trickling into the bleachers were told that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) were in the audience.

The two Queens lawmakers had seats directly behind home plate, next to the mayor, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and nearby real estate mogul Donald Trump.

But other lawmakers were watching the game from high in the nosebleed section.

“We sit up here with the real people,” said Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), joking about his colleagues’ front-row seats.

Weprin was taking a beer and some french fries back to the upper-deck seats where his family was sitting, adding he saw state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in the crowd as well.

The lawmakers down below stayed for nearly the entire game, which largely consisted of a tense 0-0 match-up that pleased the fans.

“Having a close, 0-0 game, I couldn’t be happier,” said Adam Harms, a former New York University graduate who was sporting an Atlanta Braves jersey, the New York Mets’ opponent for the game.

But Harms was less happy about getting heckled over his outfit.

“I’ve heard, ‘The Braves suck’ about 12 or 15 times so far,” the Atlanta native said.

The Mets eventually put a run up on the board in the sixth inning. Fans watching the game from a large patio raised their beers and roared with delight, but many had a more sober outlook for the rest of the year.

“The Mets typically do well on Opening Day,” said another fan who predicted the momentum would probably not last and hoped the team would at least break even for wins and losses this year.

But despite the Mets’ poor record over the past few seasons, the Amazin’s still boast a loyal fanbase and as of press time Tuesday afternoon had won four games in a row. Super fans with self-explanatory names like Cowbell Man (bangs a cowbell), Pin Man (wears many pins) and Wig Man (wears crazy wigs) were patrolling the stadium.

One fan from Glen Oaks was completely decked out in Mets gear and face paint.

“It doesn’t feel like we’re just fans of the Mets. It feels like we are the Mets,” she said, explaining why some baseball enthusiasts like herself don wild outfits for the game. “And it helps that we drink a lot of alcohol.”

A woman from Long Island had cut a hole in her shirt, exposing her pregnant stomach where she had painted a portrait of the Amazin’s mascot, Mr. Met.

“I’m having a baby in the summer and I had to make him a Met fan,” said Annie Neglia. “I figured with painting myself, it might get through by osmosis.”

Billy Garry was also dressed up for the game, but he wore prison pants and a mask of Bernie Madoff along with his Mets jersey bearing the ponzi schemer’s name and “$$” in place of a number.

Many fans griped about owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz’s handling of the team in terms of trades, money troubles and their loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in the Madoff ponzi scheme, but one group of die-hards went slightly further.

Connecticut’s Mark Sank and a group of friends started a website called timetoselltheteam.com, which he hopes will persuade the owners to put the Mets on the auction block.

The site sells T-shirts bearing slogans such as, “Shea goodbye to Fred and Jeff,” referring to Wilpon and his son, for the price of $19.86 — which corresponds to the last year the Mets won a World Series.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:20 pm, April 11, 2012
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