More Mets matinees

When I was growing up nearly every New York Mets Saturday home game was an early afternoon matinee. Night games, even in the midst of summer, were rare occasions. A lot of dads would take their kids to these games since you didn’t have to worry about anyone falling asleep because of the late hour. These afternoon affairs helped families bond and made youngsters lifelong fans of a baseball team.

The Mets for some strange reason have elected to mostly do away with this tradition.

Their April 6 game with the Washington Nationals was the only Saturday 1 p.m. game scheduled for this season. I get why the Mets would want to have Saturday night games during the summer months, but why do away with them during the rest of April and May before national TV contractual rights and hot and humid weather kick in? It is generally more pleasant to sit in the stands during the day than at night in the early spring, which should boost attendance. The over-35,000 fans who caught a thrilling 6-5 Mets win Saturday sure seemed happy to be enjoying day baseball. The Mets should make Saturday matinees great again.

Honoring their past players has long been a team weakness. There has always been lip service to rectifying this oversight, but it was never fixed. That apparently is changing now that legendary Mets executive Jay Horwitz has shifted duties from media relations to alumni relations.

This past Saturday the Amazin’s brought back two favorites from the late ’90s, pitchers Rick Reed and Turk Wendell, who greeted fans. Horwitz has promised that Mets alumni will be returning to Citi Field every weekend that the Mets are home this year.

The New York Jets unveiled a trio of new uniforms earlier this month. If fashion critic Richard Blackwell, better known back in the day as “Mr. Blackwell,” were still alive I don’t think that he would have been very impressed. Of course the only thing that Jets fans care about is whether Gotham Green, Stealth Black and Spotlight White can beat New England Patriots Fire Red when the teams meet.

I was saddened to learn of the passing last week of veteran sportswriter and colleague Robert Elkin. Longtime readers of Queens weeklies will recognize his byline because he championed high school as well as college sports and less-covered ones like track and field, tennis and horse racing. Robert was one of the stubbornest people I ever met. If he believed that the sun rose in the west and set in the east, no kind of evidence could make him change his mind. He could be both infuriating and entertaining and I will greatly miss him.

See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.

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Queens was the center of the thoroughbred racing world last Saturday as the Wood Memorial, one of the officially sanctioned preliminary races that determines qualifiers for next month’s Kentucky Derby, was run. Tacitus overtook Tax in the homestretch to get the win. Both horses will be going to Louisville’s Churchill Downs to run in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

It must have been a bit odd to hear bettors in the stands of Aqueduct cheering on a horse named Tax less than ten days before the personal income tax filing deadline.

The big news story from the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremonies was how a psycho fan left his seat and rushed to the wrestling ring in Barclays Center, which served as a podium, to tackle Bret Hart as he was making his acceptance speech.

That bit of mayhem thankfully did not mar what is always a great night for both wrestling legends and fans as the insider storytelling is terrific.

Hulk Hogan revealed that after an initial failure at becoming a professional wrestler, he opened a bar and gym in Cocoa Beach, Fla., an area whose economy was heavily dependent on NASA. When President Carter scrapped the space shuttle in 1978, Cocoa Beach’s economy tanked and so did Hogan’s businesses. He decided to give wrestling another shot and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wayne Ferris had been a low-level wrestler working in the Florida panhandle until he had an epiphany about creating a very poor man’s Elvis Presley impersonator who was more like a villain than anything resembling “The King.” He dubbed his character “The Honky Tonk Man” in honor of a hit by the late Johnny Horton of “North to Alaska” fame. Ferris’s character caught on and he became one of the WWE’s most popular characters by the mid-1980s. He even had a chance to make his own recordings with Knox Phillips, the son of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, handling the production. Ferris could actually carry a tune.

Life and style

Chopt, the national salad restaurant chain that has many branches in Manhattan and is rumored to be looking at sites in Queens in order to expand here, is introducing California-themed creations this week as the Baja Shrimp Wrap, Chinese Chicken Bowl (a popular dish apparently in San Francisco’s Chinatown) and the Spicy Sonoma Caesar Salad. I like Chopt because they find ways to make salads, which can often be dull and predictable, a lot of fun.

Speaking of restaurants, some of the borough’s best will take part in Queens Taste 2019 slated for Tuesday, May 7 at the Hall of Science as they will be dishing out samples from their respective menus. Queens Taste is a fund-raising event for the Queens Economic Development Corp.

The hardest-working man in show business last week had to have been English actor Kit Harington who had to juggle promotional work for HBO’s concluding eighth season of “Game of Thrones” in which he stars, including its Radio City premiere last Wednesday, with hosting “Saturday Night Live” on NBC.