Opening Day 2011 will be the 50th Opening Day in Mets history. To honor that, around here we’ll be counting down the top 50 Mets in team history, one every weekday from now until we’ve done ‘em all. Today, #11, Al Leiter:
[Leiter] and the Yankees’ Don Mattingly met Springsteen back stage during the Tunnel of Love tour in 1988. They came face-to-face again this summer at Continental Arena when Leiter and Mets teammates John Franco, Robin Ventura and Dennis Cook met the Boss . . .
Springsteen was the first singer Leiter followed when he became interested in music in high school. And, of course, there were the ecounters with The Boss. Like the time when his brothers friends went to Springsteen’s house in Rumson, knocked on the door and asked the housekeeper, ”Is Bruce home?”
Or the time when his brother literally bumped into Springsteen in a mall. And Leiter’s near encounter with the Boss at the sporting good store, when Springsteen was reportedly wearing a baseball cap and paint overalls.
After Leiter lost Game 5 of the World Series to the Yankees in a gutty 140-pitch outing at Shea in 2000, Springsteen called to praise his performance. “I played that message over and over,” says Leiter. “I was like a teenager.”
There are a handful of things that would cause my head to explode from uncontrollable exuberance. Most of them involve Harrison Ford. But being a fly on the wall when Bruce Springsteen, maybe my favorite human being ever, and members of the 1999-2000 Mets, maybe my favorite baseball team ever, crossed paths? I don’t think I could have handled it.
Also, if I recall correctly, Leiter exclusively used Springsteen songs as his entrance music. Leiter is #11, but I considered bumping him up to #1 on this list just for that.