By: Brian Mangan
Hundreds of loyal baseball fans gathered at McFadden’s Citi Field on Saturday afternoon for the first ever Queens Baseball Convention (the QBC, on twitter was @QBC14), a mid-winter celebration of Mets baseball intended to be part Comic-Con, part fan fest, and part baseball extravaganza.
The QBC, organized by Shannon Shark of Mets Police (www.metspolice.com) and Darren Meenan of the Mets-centric clothing line The 7 Line (www.the7line.com) was the first of its kind – a convention dreamed up “by the fans, for the fans.”
Fans filled McFadden’s wall-to-wall for the all-day convention for an event which included panels, presentations, autograph signings, individual vendors selling art and memorabilia, food and even mascots. By all accounts, it was a great success. “I’m thrilled at how well received it was,” said organized Shannon Shark, “folks really seemed to have a good time.”
Undoubtedly, the main attraction of the day for most fans were the special guests, namely, former Mets greats Ron Darling and Ed Kranepool. Both Darling and Kranepool took part in extended question and answer sessions with the fans, and stayed for lengthy autograph signings afterward (which were included in the reasonable $35 price of admission).
One of the most interesting panels of the day was led by Paul Lukas of ESPN’s Uni Watch in which the panelists discussed the Mets uniforms and their history. Among the topics discussed were the the process of assigning numbers, and a discussion of the merits of the different jerseys that the Mets have used over the years (a show of hands at the panel revealed, for instance, that Mets fans greatly prefer jerseys with player names on the back rather than numbers only).
The Mets organization itself even got into the act, providing a panel of executives from the New York Mets Marketing Department who discussed the team and its various marketing initiatives. They confirmed that Mrs. Met “is back” and that the retirement of Mike Piazza’s #31 is under discussion.
There were also a few games and competitions which took place during the day which were less academic. Fans played Mets-related versions of “Let’s Make a Deal” and “Family Feud,” but the highlight was undoubtedly the Mets-version of “The Dating Game.” The help of the lovely 7 Line calendar girls was enlisted for the game.
Although it was held at a bar, the Queens Baseball Convention was most-definitely a family-friendly event as well, with special events included for children such as face painting, a dunk tank, and a drawing contest for the kids.
The event concluded with the “Mazzy Awards,” which are awards voted on by the fan community for a variety of awards, some serious, and some silly. Awards included “Mets Executive of the Year” (won by Mets Vice President of Media Relations), “Best First Impression” (won by Mets’ rookie Zack Wheeler) and even “Best Looking” blogger.
All in all, the Queens Baseball Convention was exactly what fans needed to get their baseball fix in the middle of a cold, bleak winter. Mets fans are notoriously active and notoriously loyal, so an event like this was sorely overdue. One fan in attendance, Andrew Damato, agreed with that sentiment, saying, “any reason in the middle of January to come here and pretend it’s summer is a win for us.”
The organizers have said that they will be holding the Convention again next year, and the organizers have an even bigger vision for next year. Shannon Shark said, “I hope to do it again next year, and now having established the brand and concept it should allow for staring the process earlier which should lead to bigger and better.” Given the success of QBC14, it looks like Mets fans will have a lot to look forward to.
Additional pictures of the event can be found here:
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Brian Mangan is the co-founder of the Read Zone and prior to that had blogged Mets at Fonzie Forever. He had better be invited to be a part of it next year, guys.
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