During a pandemic, living alone w/one’s dog affords a person a lot of time to self-reflect. And as someone who has had a life-long struggle w/self-identity, & always found a true sense of self—elusive—it’s proven a fruitful experience. Painful, at times. But much-needed.

I’ve always struggled w/my sense of place in this country. I’ve always felt like a perennial outsider.

I’m finally at a place in life where I’m able to reflect, & realize, those feelings exist b/c there are some very valid & profound reasons why it’s been a life-long struggle.
I’m a 1st-gen Irish-born immigrant. The son on of a carpenter from Dublin, y de una chilanga de México. My father came to this country in 1988, escaping The Troubles—w/a few bucks to his name, the clothes on his back & a dream. He saved enough money for my mother & I to join him.
As an infant, I would overstay my travel visa. And many a Friday night growing up took place at the foot of stools in an Irish pub in Hoboken, NJ — just below the fog of smoke from the cigarettes. “The Shannon” featured prominently in my childhood: it's where my dad felt at home.
A few years after my first brother, Ryan, was born an American citizen, we’d have the good fortune of winning permanent resident green-cards in a lottery. I say fortunate — but it was only as fortunate as American law would allow.

Why? Because I was Irish.
Because years prior an Irish member of the US Congress wrote a law that would benefit me & my family: Irish-born citizens had a leg up in the lotteries vs other nationalities in the late 80’s/early 90’s. My Mexican-born mother wouldn’t have had it as easy. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/01/diversity-visa-irish-history-215776
Only recently I learned a quarter of my genetic code has been on this continent much longer than the rest—it crossed the Bering Strait in the blood of a woman over 12,500 yrs ago: "D4h3a is considered a 'founder' lineage, belonging to the first people to arrive in the Americas."
That makes my mother fully half Native American. But 23andme made this fact news to both of us. Because, in Mexico, like in many places on this planet, hiding any and all parts of you that were not white, carried benefit and mitigated personal risk. https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/earliest-american-genome-proves-siberian-origins-of-native-peoples
In fact, I lived in the Native American dorm, Muwekma-Tah-Ruk my senior year at Stanford — as one of the non-native residents. I did not live a life of an indigenous American, so I cannot claim that as a part of my heritage.

Nor should I be able to.
Another quarter of my genetic code comes from a man that almost certainly played a part in subjugating the Native Mexicans that are also my ancestors. I’m a quarter Spanish.
The other half of me comes from a long line of Irish men & women who struggled under the control of a foreign crown for many generations.

In fact, it frequently surprises folks when I tell them the Irish didn’t gain their independence from the British until the 20th century.
The story of my genes can’t tell the story of my lived experience—but they sure do provide a bit of insight into why my place in America, as an immigrant & as a white man, has always been disorienting to me. Has always been something I’ve struggled with—internally—my whole life.
There’s a lot more to unpack there, and maybe someday I’ll share my story more deeply.

But, today, I want to share one illuminating anecdote — a story of one night from my childhood: June 30, 2000.

Fireworks Night at Shea Stadium.
My first love in life was, without a shadow of a doubt, New York City. Cliché, but true.

To me, it was the Center of the Universe.

As a kid, I could see the Empire State Building from my bathroom window. And I was known to stare at it.
Taking in the view of the NYC skyline from a good vantage point in Hoboken, was always one of my favorite things. It was special.

THAT. THAT was a City.

The Greatest City in the World.
And my favorite place in that greatest city? The uniquely quirky edifice that was Shea Stadium.
You hear people describe the first time they walked into a stadium & laid their eyes on a pro baseball field — they're almost universally similar. And it was no different for this kid. When he walked through that tunnel at Shea, & saw that field for the 1st time, he was done for.
The field? It was so green! The stands were a bright blue & orange. The stadium? Impressive. It seemed unsafe! The stands looked as if they went vertical as they went up. Almost as if—should one lose their footing at the top — they might fall straight onto that very green field!
Yeah—that kid was done for. From that moment on he would live & breathe NY Mets baseball.

Just how big a fan did he become? How deep did the obsession run? He would watch every inning of every single game. @WFAN660 sports radio became the soundtrack to those yrs of his life.
His dream for when he'd grow up? To become a play-by-play announcer for those NY Metropolitans. For Christmas one yr, he got an old-school recorder—so he could do his best play-by-play impressions of @HowieRose, Gary Cohen, Bob Murphy, Gary Thorne, while watching games on mute.
And he was lucky, b/c it was a *special* stretch to be a fan of those @NewYorkMets. A team to remember. A rag-tag group of underdogs that were easy to root for. Bobby V. Johnny Franco. Turk Wendell. Rey Ordonez. Benny Agbayani. Pratt. Robin Ventura. Edgardo Alfonzo. Mike Piazza.
And our main rival? The Atlanta @Braves. In 1999 we would meet them in an epic NLCS. It went only 6 games, but included 62 innings, 1286 mins.. 21 ½ full hrs of baseball. Including Ventura's epic “Grand Slam Single” in the 15th—to end an almost 6 hr Game 5.
This kid attended his only baseball playoff game to-date during that series. It was the rather uneventful Game 3 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium. In front of an audience of 55,911, the Braves won 1-0. The save went to the Braves closing pitcher: John Rocker.
In that interview, Rocker shared w/ @jeffpearlman his opinions of New York City and its people:
It was the first time in my memory that this ugly form of white supremacy would pierce my bubble. Jarringly. Overtly. Proudly. Loudly. In mass media. To read the judgements he projected… that immigrant Catholic kid from Jersey—it shocked his moral conscience. And it angered him.
Because John Rocker—he was talking a/b me. My family. My friends. My neighbors. My city. He was attacking what was, to that point—my understanding of what made our country great. Was not American history a story of diverse people coming to make the greatest country on Earth?
The New York media has it’s villain. Sports talk radio had debates over what Rocker had said. It was an incessant point of conversation that allowed New Yorkers to rant, as they were wont to do. Present company very much included.
And it was in this context that the Mets & Braves would meet for a summer battle for 1st place in the NL East on July 4th wk in 2000. John Rocker on-hand. The NYPD provided him w/dozens of officers for security. He was, justifiably, the most hated man in New York that weekend.
It was with this backdrop, that this kid walked through the turnstiles of Shea Stadium with his family on June 30, 2000.

Fireworks Night at Shea.
But the sell-out crowd stuck around, waiting for the fireworks show after the game. Then w/2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, 8-1 quietly turned into 8-2.

Then 8-3.



And w/the bases loaded Edgardo Alfonso hit a clutch 2-RBI single into left.

8-8! It was quiet no more.
Then @mikepiazza31 came to the plate.
I've never heard a group yell as loudly as those 52,831 people did in that moment. Strangers hugged strangers. The ground beneath us shook. Shea Stadium swayed. And this kid yelled his heart out. Yelled so loud he almost fainted—as he waved his Mets flag he brought to every game.
It’s taken me 20 yrs to come to fully understand why that kid was yelling so hard. He wasn’t just cheering a baseball game. It wasn’t just about the home run. He was letting out all the emotions he’d been struggling w/during the entire six months since those words of John Rocker.
In that moment, his beliefs were vindicated. Good beat evil. Right faced down wrong, and right won. It was a moment of catharsis for that green-card carrying kid who loved baseball. Loved his team. Loved his city. Loved his country.
Later that summer that kid’s family would move to California. The Mets would go on to the World Series, to face their cross-town rivals: The New York Yankees. He’d have to watch that historic Subway Series from 3,000 miles away.
Then a year later, he’d wake up one morning & start his day the way he usually would: by turning on CNN. That kid was sitting in his new bedroom in Dublin, CA—his new hometown with a familiar name—but w/Mets, Jets, Devils, Knicks paraphernalia still surrounding him in that room.
Above the TV, a poster of Piazza—World Trade Center in the background. Next to it, Allan Houston of the Knicks by those same towers. And on the screen before him that morning, he’d watch in horror as a portion of that skyline of the city he loved so dearly—crumbled to the ground.
In an act of self-preservation, that kid would respond to the pain and the trauma of that experience, in the only way he knew how: by burying it. He buried his love for baseball. He buried his love for that team. And he buried his love for that city.
In 2016, I bought a ticket (well in advance) to see @Lin_Manuel's @HamiltonMusical in NY w/my dad. It fell on July 29, 2016.

We had one more day in NY, & decided to see a @Mets game. And by one of those happy coincidences of life: it was the day they retired @mikepiazza31's #31.
It’s taken me 20 years — 20 years — for me to finally get to the point where I could unpack all of what I have just written. To recall in a way that kid couldn’t fully comprehend on that night in June 2000, just why it had meant so much to him.
And I feel very grateful that I’m now in a place where I can reflect and unpack a night and experience like that one.

It was one of the best experiences of my childhood. Of my life.

June 30, 2000. Fireworks Night at Shea.

What a show.
You can follow @deanofdublin.
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