NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mets great Mike Piazza may not be taking the field Thursday, but he’ll still be at Citi Field on Opening Day.
The 12-time All Star and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner played with the Mets until 2005 and says years later, he still misses Opening Day with the team.
“It’s always a thrill as a player, Opening Day, because it’s such a tradition in baseball and in New York it’s even more special because of the intensity the fans here,” Piazza said. “There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that you don’t miss it, so you miss it every day as a player and so it is very special.”
The former catcher says he’s already offered advice to newcomer Pete Alonso, who makes his Citi Field debut on Thursday, telling him to “drink it in and enjoy it.”
Piazza says “it takes a special person to really do well in New York” and that Alonso already shaping up to be a great addition to the team.
“He’s off to a great start and I think even more so, I’m completely convinced he’s gonna be a great player, but he looks and, just from when I’ve talked to him, being a great kid as well and a good person,” Piazza says.
Starting the season on the road has given Alonso a chance to break into the big leagues with a little less of a microscope, but Piazza says that he’s already begun to make a name for himself. It also helps that he has the support of veterans such as Robinson Cano and Jacob deGrom.
“A guy like Robinson Cano, he makes the team better just by his presence in the lineup,” Piazza says.
As for deGrom, the former Met says “he’s a great competitor, he has great stuff, he’s a great guy in the clubhouse and when he won the Cy Young, as I said, I put a note out that I’m proud of him because he’s a good guy and he works hard, but he’s a bulldog on the mound and he’s got all those great qualities, so I think we’re very blessed to have him.”
Neil A. Carousso produced special coverage of the Mets 2019 home opener at Citi Field, including Brad Heller’s interview with Mike Piazza, for WCBS Newsradio 880 – the flagship station of the New York Mets.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — For more than 50 years the New York Mets have provided fans with a lifetime of memories.
From Gary Carter’s dramatic 1985 debut to Mets baseball in Tokyo, we asked some of the team’s biggest fans to share their favorite Opening Day memories as The Amazin’s get ready to host their 2019 home opener at Citi Field.
Watch the video above to see comedian Jim Breuer, Mets radio hosts Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo, former Mets Manager Bobby Valentine, sportscaster Kevin Burkhardt, Mets minority owner Anthony Scaramucci, WCBS 880 traffic reporter Tom Kaminski, WCBS 880 meteorologist Craig Allen, sportscaster Mike Breen and Reps. Eliot Engel and Peter King share their stories.
Neil A. Carousso produced and edited this special New York Mets content for WCBS Newsradio 880, the flagship station of Mets baseball.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There’s more than just baseball to look forward to this season at Citi Field.
In addition to the 50th anniversary of the Miracle Mets, the stadium also has a new food lineup that Mets fans aren’t going to want to miss out on.
WCBS 880’s traffic reporter Tom Kaminski, an avid Mets fan, got a sneak peek Thursday at some of the newcomers to Citi Field including the brand new pizza partner, Emmy Squared.
The pizza spot, which began as Emily Restaurant – also known as Pizza Loves Emily – was founded in 2014 in Clinton Hill and eventually grew into Emmy Squared in Williamsburg in 2015.
Now, Emmy Squared has partnered with the Mets and offers a variety of specialty pizzas, including “The Emmy,” served with mozzarella cheese, banana peppers, red onions and ranch dressing.
“We just could never have imagine that we would be here, but we’re happy to be,” said shop owner Emily Hyland.
She notes that there are three locations throughout the stadium, including a field-level location that offers burgers.
Other newcomers included Destination Dumplings, Dulcinea, Pizza Cupcake, Stuf’d, Sliders & Sinkers and La Newyorkina.
Fan favorites, including Wowfulls, which serves waffle cones stuffed with ice cream, and DŌ, which serves edible cookie dough, are also expected to draw large crowds.
But it’s not just burgers and hotdogs you can find throughout the stadium. Citi Field is also planning to introduce new vendors for all dietary options, including a vegan spot: Marty’s V Burger.
“Everything that we serve is 100 percent vegan,” said owner Marty Krutolow, who offered Kaminski the shop’s signature Shroom Steakhouse Burger.
The dish is served with the restaurant’s vegan burger patty, vegan mozzarella cheese, steakhouse sauce, sautéed mushrooms and chipotle lime dressing – and has Kaminski’s seal of approval.
“That is excellent,” Kaminski noted after taking his first bite.
And while the food is usually a crowd pleaser, it’s not the only thing that’s new this season.
In fact, upon arrival fans will be greeted by an entirely new 1969 display case which features artifacts from the season, including Ron Swoboda’s game-used glove, Gil Hodge’s manager contract and more.
The artifacts were added as the Mets plan to host a weekend-long celebration to honor the 1969 World Series Championship team on Friday, June 28 through Sunday, June 30.
Mets fans will also be pleased to hear that the team is planning to honor Tom Seaver – who was recently diagnosed with dementia and will unfortunately miss the Miracle Mets celebrations – by renaming 126th Street, which lies adjacent to the ballpark, after the legendary pitcher.
And of course, there’s always new merchandise to look forward to.
We recommend checking out the new shirts, including the one based on Howie Rose’s famous line: “Put It In the Books!”
Neil A. Carousso produced multi-media content of the “What’s New at Citi Field” event ahead of Opening Day for WCBS Newsradio 880 – the flagship station of the New York Mets.
An Unsung 9/11 Hero and the Journey of an American Flag
from Ground Zero to Iraq and Afghanistan to The White House
PATCHOGUE, N.Y. — A hero-maker serves heroes.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Donato Panico watched in horror as al-Qaeda hijackers crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center.
He felt he had to do something right away, and as the owner of a Smithtown deli for more than three decades, Panico knew he could provide a needed service.
“(My friend) was telling me that all kinds of commanding officers were killed down there and that they had no food system and it was in total chaos,” said Panico.
He then prepared his catering trucks with sandwiches and drove to Ground Zero the next morning. He got through most of the tight security checkpoints in Manhattan, but he was still far away from the Trade Center when commanding officer Louis Pacheco recognized Panico from his Long Island deli and ushered him into site so he could fill a void serving starving, dehydrated, weary, angry and saddened First Responders.
“A couple months later, (Pacheco) presented me with a flag that they hung in front of the Millennium Hotel,” Panico said. The hotel, which is adjacent to One World Trade Center, suffered significant damage in the terrorist attacks.
“He presented it to me and I presented it to a friend of mine in the store whose son was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. He hung it over his camp,” said Panico, continuing, “He had the flag commissioned by President (George W.) Bush and he returned it to me 4 years later.”
Panico continued to lend the gifted flag to local police, fire and veterans organizations on Long Island.
“You can’t hold onto something if you don’t give it away,” said Panico when asked why he felt so strongly about imparting such a meaningful and emotional souvenir to patriotic organizations. “It’s not my flag, it’s ours.”
His foundation Heros 4 Our Heroes was born from tragedy. Today, Panico aims to keep a “constant awareness” for the need to take care of police officers, firefighters and our veterans who make sacrifices to keep us safe and free. He is currently undertaking a project to re-build the patio at the Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Northport, Long Island.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) was the only local politician to show up at Donato’s fist Heros 4 Heroes Foundation event after 9/11; Panico said his first impression of Zeldin was he’s “special.”
The Republican congressman was deployed to Iraq in 2006 with the 82nd Airborne Division and is currently in the Army Reserves. In a sit-down interview with him, Donato and this reporter, he praised Donato as a selfless patriot while he engaged in the same type of organic camaraderie he has with fellow soldiers. Zeldin said Panico has the “type of character, values, ethics and beliefs” that guided his selfless actions on 9/11.
“If he was on the first floor of the Trade Center that day, he would have went straight up and started rendering first-aid to people even though he wasn’t NYPD or FDNY,” Congressman Zeldin said. “That’s his character.”
Recently, Panico had one particular person he wanted to lend “our” Old Glory that flew in front of the Millennium Hotel on September 11 to: The President of the United States.
Congressman Zeldin invited Panico to President Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union Address in January. Panico brought the flag to Washington with him in hopes to give it to the President. That’s when Rep. Zeldin learned of the sentimental history of that American Flag. Donato did not get to meet Mr. Trump that day, but Mr. Zeldin held onto the flag for the right time, and on June 20, the Congressman received a phone call from The White House for a last minute policy meeting with President Trump and several representatives.
Zeldin recalled, “All I was thinking of was ‘where’s the flag?’”
After the meeting, Congressman Zeldin told President Trump about the flag.
“You could tell the story was impacting him, he was deeply moved by it, he was moved by Donato’s story, the first responders, the journey of that flag from the Trade Center, overseas being flown over a base to back home,” said Mr. Zeldin, adding that the President brought him into the Oval Office where he had an aide write down Panico’s story for a museum, and posed for a picture behind his Resolute Desk to send home to Donato.
Congressman Zeldin says when he meets with the President like he did when he rode in his motorcade with him to a GOP fundraiser in Southampton last month, President Trump asked about Donato.
Donato feels an unspoken bond with the current Commander-In-Chief, a man he has never met, but respects as a patriot, as he does his fellow New Yorkers and Americans who still suffer pain, sorrow, and illness from 9/11.
Panico still shakes when the calendar turns to September. He and we will Never Forget.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Sofia “Sonya” Kenin is only 19, but has been climbing the ranks to the top in professional tennis.
Kenin won in three sets during her first two matches at this year’s US Open and has reached the third round. The Florida resident will take on Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic Friday night.
Kenin joined WCBS 880 Producer Neil A. Carousso on Thursday evening to talk about her experience. Here are some excerpts from their interview:
Carousso: “What’s your experience like so far?”
Kenin: “It’s amazing, you know. I love playing here. It’s the greatest thing in the world. I have a lot of confidence. I’m playing really well. I feel like my best tennis is right here in New York City.”
Carousso: “You last year gained a lot of notoriety because you played against Maria Sharapova… and so it’s funny, going back to last year and playing that match, what has changed from then to now?”
Kenin: “I feel like the confidence that I have and the fact that I have more experience playing at these high stages…. Last year was kind of like a bit more overwhelming. It’s more yes, I’m really excited, looking forward to it. But I’m just going to try to take it easy, not get too overwhelmed with the crowd and everything.”
Carousso: “And you’re going to play at Louis Armstrong tomorrow. What’s the difference between playing on a big stage versus a smaller court?”
Kenin: “I mean, there, you actually have to play well. But the atmosphere’s just incredible there… I obviously really wanted to try and play in one of those courts, and yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Carousso: “So playing in New York City… do you feel like you have that mojo; do you feel like you go into a match a little differently here in New York?”
Kenin: “Yeah, I feel like I can bring out that energy here and everyone’s going to support me. Some other places where I can’t – if I do that, they’re not really going to be behind me.”
Carousso: “What about other players? You obviously grew up watching Maria Sharapova. You’re 19. You know, what’s it like being in the same locker room as some of those greats?”
Kenin: “It’s amazing. I’ve been watching them – from when I started playing tennis, I’ve been watching them, and I always wanted to get here, and playing against them and being next to them is incredible, but I’ve gotten used to it.”