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Shea Stadium Gets Positive Reviews

Apr. 17, 1964 - Spacious parking lots, escalators, five multicolored seating levels with not a pole in the house, ushers and pretty usherettes dressed in natty blue, orange and white uniforms, immaculate rest rooms, and a huge electronic scoreboard. Shea Stadium, the dream park New Yorkers had longed for for years, as a reality at last.

Oh, there were a few gripes. Traffic, of course, was snarled on the way to the park, especially around the gates to the parking areas. Planes from nearby La Guardia field roared low overhead. There still was an unfinished look around much of the stadium.

And there was much confusion about seat locations and directions, as there will continue to be until Shea Stadium becomes as familiar as Yankee Stadium, the old Polo Grounds, and Ebbets Field.

“There isn’t much walking room between the aisles up here,” pointed out an usher in the mezzanine deck. “I’m wondering how those kids with all the Met banners will get around.”

Only a scattering of banners showed up on opening day. There were a few thousand fans lined up when the ticket windows opened at noon to dispense the final 12,000 available seats.

“I got here at 10:15 and grabbed a pair of $1.30 seats because I was afraid I’d be shut out if I stayed in the reserve seat line,” said Andrew Bragg of Brooklyn. “It’s the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen in my life. I was a Dodger fan for years, but I root all the way for the Mets now.”

Three youngsters from Long Island sat in the farthest corner of the upper right deck and viewed the field from the poorest seats in the house.

“It’s kind of scary up here, but you can see everything,” said 17-year-old William Shannon of Rosedale. “You get a beautiful view of Flushing Bay.”

Terri Barnett, a pretty 19-year-old usherette who doubles as an education major at Queens College, blushingly revealed she played hooky to start her $13.50-a-game job at Shea Stadium.

“This beats typing for a living,” she said. “Gosh, I hope I don’t bump into any of my teachers here today.”

Jim Decker, a disenchanted one-time Giant rooter who now is a dedicated member of the Met faithful, said: “After seeing this park, Yankee Stadium will look like a barn in five years.”

“This has to be a showplace, one that every visitor to New York will want to see,” declared Danny Murtaugh, manager of the victorious Pittsburgh Pirates, after the game. “It’s a beautiful stadium, well planned, a fine place to play baseball. I like everything about it.”

“At first,” said Casey Stengel, who has been singing the praises of his new home all over the country for months, “I couldn’t find out where the writers were and where the broadcasters were, but then I found them, and I was in trouble.”

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