By David Sanchirico
Neil and Bonnie Sutter have had Mets fever since the team's first season in 1962. The couple got engaged at Shea Stadium, and one of the couple's fondest Met memory came when they — along with their son — caught a Darryl Strawberry foul ball at Shea during the 1986 season.
So it was only natural that Neil — on his 42nd wedding anniversary — took swings at Citi Field with Strawberry watching him.
Neil and Bonnie, from Woodmere, were among 60 fans who spent $500 to play softball on the Citi Field grass. Met legends Strawberry and Dwight Gooden were there to not only sign autographs, but also coach the four softball teams, with the proceeds going to the Fisher House Foundation, which supports military members and their families.
“To spend our 42nd anniversary at Citi Field like this is amazing," said Bonnie Sutter, who watched her husband play from the left field stands.
While watching the games taking place in left and right field, Gooden talked with a fans about the '86 team. It surely wasn’t the first time Gooden has discussed that magical season, but he says it never gets old.
"When you're playing you don't have the opportunity to talk to fans," Gooden said. "Now, you have nothing but time to take pictures and share the great memories with fans."
Gooden and Strawberry were more than happy to greet four members of the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team, who played Thursday afternoon.
Greg Reynolds, a Wounded Warriors outfielder from Dighton, Mass., who had his left arm amputated, says the team has some of the best amputee athletes around the nation. Reynolds was stationed in Iraq for 15 months during the initial invasion in 2003 and 2004.
“To play on an MLB field and see my name of the jumbotron is a very humbling experience," Reynolds said. "I never imagined this would have happened."
Though Gooden brought a competitive mindset to Citi Field Thursday - saying he would have pitched if needed - Strawberry was not there to take swings. He was simply supporting Reynolds and the other amputees, a cause he believes does not get enough care.
"It's also good to remember who's important in our country," Strawberry said. "We should be grateful for them. Families suffer more than anybody. This is a day they can come out to the ballpark and hang out with us and have some fun."
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski