Mar 31, 2009, 1:46 PM EDT
The following fan report comes from one of the first Phillies fans to step foot in Citi Field, the Mets new home. It also comes from the first Phillies fan to get the boot from said stadium. Seems his choice in attire was not appreciated.
Allow me preface this message by telling you how much I appreciate the service that you provide to Delaware Valley sports fans. If it were not for The700Level.com, I would not be aware of half of the goings on with my Philly teams. Thank you…
My name is Reed Frazier. I am a 22-year-old student at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. I grew up in Deptford, New Jersey and have been a lifelong fan of Philadelphia sports teams through the good and the bad. I am very proud of my Philadelphia teams, no matter their records, and I always will be proud to be one of their fans.
In my dorm room, amongst other Philadelphia attire, I keep a Philadelphia Phillies dugout jacket. Anyone who knows me knows how attached I have become to this jacket. I wear it everyday. In fact, since I last went home, it is the only jacket I have kept in my closet.
During my free time on campus, I work as a camera operator for St. John’s University’s Office of Athletic Communications. It is a good fit for me, as I am a Television and Film Production major, as well as an avid sports fan. It is also a fairly relaxed atmosphere with no mandatory uniform.
I had initially taken the job because I was looking forward to the baseball season and the prospect of being able to attend many of the St. John’s games as part of my duties. [Sunday] was my first opportunity to do so, and before it even started, it became my last.
The first game at the New York Mets new ballpark, Citi Field, was played [Sunday] between St. John’s University and Georgetown University. I, along with the Office of Athletic Communications, was to help in broadcasting the game online via St. John’s University’s sports website.
The weather was less than desirable; mist was coming down which created a cool dampness outside. We had been advised to wear St. John’s University polo shirts, provided for us, to the game as well as rain proof jackets. Because of this, I wore my Phillies jacket to the field.
Upon arriving at the stadium, I was yelled at by a Mets fan to leave. I just smiled. I expected no less and was prepared to hear heckling to some degree. It is every sports fan’s right to jeer people who are invading on his team’s territory.
When I signed in for my press pass, I was asked, “You’re not really going to wear that here, are you?” I just laughed it off. After I reached what was our control room, co-workers advised me not to wear the jacket. I confirmed that I will be wearing the jacket. One individual, who is a co-announcer, said to me, “You’ll never make it with that attitude.” He then suggested that they should take the jacket and burn it.
I told him, “There’s no way this jacket leaves my back.”
To which he replied, “Then, we’ll just burn it with you in it.”
I chose to ignore the comment.
I began to walk around the ballpark, which is a beautiful structure. I took pictures with my phone with the intent of sending them to The700Level.com to give Phillies “Phans” an idea of what to expect this season and the seasons to come.
I returned to the press area, four levels above home plate, where I began taping down the wires for my camera. Here I encountered a fair few Mets fans that were less than pleased with my attire; one group even suggested that I may be the first Citi Field fatality. However, upon joking with one another, we all realized that there was no malicious intent in any of our “expressions,” be it them with their remarks or me with my Phillies jacket.
I encountered a gentleman named Paul, a lifelong Mets fan and photographer. I invited him up to stand beside me on the camera platform as he was taking panoramic photos of the new ballpark. We joked around a bit and even photographed one another at the field. He was a very pleasant individual who even told other Mets fans not to worry about me, and that I was a good guy.
I was then approached by a fellow student and co-worker who brought a St. John’s University jacket from the head of the department for me to wear. I said, “Thank you, but my jacket works perfectly well for me.” I then began preparing my camera for the game.
Soon thereafter, the team introductions were announced and I thought that the worst was behind me. I was looking forward to working camera in the striking new ballpark.
It was after the ceremonial first pitch (John Franco) and the national anthem that I was approached by another co-worker who insisted that I put on the jacket. He informed me that he is a Mets fan and he understands where I am coming from, but that I have to put on the jacket. I told him that in no way did it affect how I was to do my job, therefore I could not justify doing so. I said, “If I was wearing a Mets jacket, would this even be a problem?” He told me everyone had to wear the jackets. I pointed out that two of my fellow student workers were wearing their own jackets. I even offered to compromise by wearing the St. John’s University jacket beneath my Phillies jacket. He dismissed the idea and left.
I returned my attention to my camera. Moments later, the head of the department rumbled up the platform and stood beside me. I looked to my side.
He said, “You have to take off your jacket.”
I replied, “In no way does it affect the job I am doing. It is a nonissue.”
He responded by saying, “It is an issue with the Mets. You can either put on the jacket or leave.”
“Then, I’m leaving.”
I walked over to Paul, shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure to meet him. In doing this, the head of the department reaches from behind and yanks my press pass out of my free hand. I exited the platform and began to walk to the doors to leave. The head of the department followed me.
“Are you really going to do this?”
I replied, “Yes.” Then, I left the building.
I was walking towards the subway, when I overhear a group of Mets fans saying, “You got to have balls to wear that here.” I chuckled and continued up the stairs to the elevated subway.
Needless to say, I was shocked by the treatment that I received today. When comparing my situation to that of the other student workers, I believe that I was singled out due to my allegiances. Had I been wearing a Flyers jacket, I am certain there would have been no issue.
Because I was not informed of the Mets organization’s disapproval of my attire firsthand, I can only speculate if there really was an issue with the Mets, or if it was St. John’s Athletic Department’s last ditch efforts in forcing me to remove my jacket. Every Mets staff member that I spoke with was very pleasant and accommodating. I appreciated their courteousness and lack of judgment.
The fact that I was removed from Citi Field for not removing my jacket is absurd to me. I was working at a NCAA baseball game, not even a Mets game. There should never have been an issue in such a setting. I highly doubt an event similar to this would occur at Citizen’s Bank Park at a Phillies, or a non-Phillies game.
I did not wear the jacket to incite people. By no means am I a confrontational individual. I am proud of my baseball team, just as the Mets fans are of theirs. I would have acted in the same way regardless of my attire. I stood my ground for what I believe in, and did so without anger or hostility.
In a perfect world, I would receive an apology from the Mets organization, as well as St. John’s University and everything broken would be easily fixed. I have always been a loyal worker and student, and anything less is an insult to me and my service. I doubt any such thing will occur. However, if it’s any consolation, I can hold my head high and say my organization is a world champion on the field and off of it.
Phaithfully Philadelphia's Son,
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