Last Play At Shea

photo Myrna Suarez

*Please welcome back Eric Landro as today’s guest poster. Enjoy his piece folks, see you tomorrow!*

It was a Sunday afternoon as my father and I trekked down the 495 towards Queens to take in our first Mets game at CitiField. We both are Yankee fans, but after visiting CitiField to watch Dave Grohl in his guitar throne shred it up, I really wanted my dad to experience the lively fun atmosphere CitiField brings. Like every one of our father/son trips, you have my dad behind the wheel, and me as the music engineer, going through each Beatles song as my dad sings each one off-key, while telling me Beatle trivia he always shares with me like it was the first time I heard them (I know Hey Jude was written for John’s son dad). But on this occasion, he asked me if I ever saw the documentary The Last Play at Shea, which I did not. So, a couple days ago we got together to watch this documentary by Paul Crowder, and it blew me away, enough so that I felt compelled to share it with you all today.

The Last Play at Shea is footage of Billy Joel’s last concert at Shea interwoven with interviews and incite of the history of the New York Mets and Billy Joel. It brought out the New Yorker in me, feeling a sense of pride to live here my whole life. The documentary really illustrated Billy Joel’s passion and dedication to New York, becoming its sort of “musical ambassador”. These are the most interesting factoids I learned from this documentary.

  1. Pete Flynn drives Paul McCartney for the second time

 The long time Mets groundskeeper Pete Flynn was there to drive The Beatles onto the stage on that historic night in 1965. At Billy Joel’s farewell concert, they were able to fly Sir Paul McCartney from England to make it just in time on stage at 11:30pm, right when the concert was wrapping up. Who was the man responsible for transporting the Beatles icon from the stadium to the stage? That’s right, the same man who transported him 43 years prior, Pete Flynn.

2. Paul McCartney almost didn’t make the concert

Billy Joel made it evident that he wanted Paul McCartney at the farewell concert, stating that “he himself wasn’t big enough” for such an important night. However, McCartney was in England and it would be impossible to make it in time. A couple hours before the concert, Paul called Joel on his cell phone and said he would really love to be a part of the night and wished there was a way to get there. Turns out, Billy Joel knew a guy who knew a guy and they were able to clear the airways to bring McCartney’s plane to the airport a half hour earlier. They rushed him in and three hours into the concert, the crowd went into a frenzy to have Paul join the stage.

3. I have a new found respect for Mets fans

 The New York Mets were the absolute worst franchise right out of the gate. In their first season, they racked up 120 losses, and for their first six years, they weren’t able to eclipse the .500 threshold. Even though they were able to grab a couple championships, the Mets faithful had to endure some really difficult times, and to see them continually standing by their team is nothing short of pure loyalty. They may be the most faithful fan bases in any sport.

4. Billy Joel’s ex-wife’s brother stole way too much money from him

I kind of knew he got screwed over by a family member, but in a more real sense, I had no idea. Billy Joel is a very family-orientated guy, and he treats the business aspect of being a rock star like a family as well. He is an extremely loyal person (see the connection with the New York people?) and put almost all the financial responsibility on his ex brother-in-law Frank Weber. He stole $30 million and Billy went into a deep depression. His then wife Christie Brinkley had allegations against Frank and his loyalty, but Billy Joel refused to speak about it, claiming he knew him longer than her and to never bring it up again. Damn Billy….

5. Billy Joel pulled an Eric Clapton on his best friend’s wife

 Clearly his music was the only thing I really knew about Billy Joel. I guess it’s kind of protocol to steal your best friend’s girl when you’re living the rock n’ roll lifestyle. Jon Small, Billy Joel’s best friend, remained with the group, but it took years of recuperating, especially since Billy wound up marrying her.

What this documentary showed me was that when you’re down, you can always get back up. You may get betrayed, but eventually you will move on. You can lose 120 games, but eventually you’ll have a chance to win a championship. You can get divorced, but you’re never too old to find love. You can attack our towers, but we can rise even higher afterwards. We live in a scary time in this country. I find myself constantly looking for some levity, positivity and hope. When I’m older and look back at this time, I’ll remember driving up that 495, listening to my dad’s voice overtake Paul’s and John’s. I’ll remember sitting in the living room and seeing my dad’s big smile while watching Paul have the time of his life on stage. The Last Play at Shea may not be considered a classic, must-see documentary to most, but for me, intertwining music, sports and New York, it brought another father/son moment I will always cherish and remember

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