Jack Davis: Grade 8
Mr. Brett Topel is a man of many talents. He takes beautiful pictures for Buckley Country Day School, but he can also portray beautiful pictures with words. He is an esteemed writer, having written two solo books in his career. When Shea Was Home – The Story of the 1975 Mets, Yankees, Giants, and Jets is the tale of the year that Shea Stadium (demolished in 2009) was the home field of the New York Mets, Yankees, Giants, and Jets. He tells the enticing saga of how these four sports giants shared the same castle. Topel not only enjoys writing, but he has a deep connection to this book for another reason.
Topel is a life-long Mets fan. He has attended hundreds of games. When asked to recount his best memory, Topel said, “The game I remember at Shea Stadium more than any other game was in 1999. It was a playoff game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Mets, they had a backup catcher.” Mr Topel then went on to explain how Mike Piazza was their starting catcher, but Todd Pratt, the backup catcher, was at bat at the moment. “He hit a walk off home run. A game-winning, series-winning home run into center field, but it was one of those things where it was just over. The center fielder jumped for it, Steve Finley, and when we saw him go up for it, nobody in the stadium was sure if it was a home run or if he caught it, and then he came down and he didn’t have it. In all the games I went to Shea Stadium, that was the loudest I ever heard Shea Stadium.” As Topel retold this story, there was a certain glint in his eyes and a certain passion in his voice that truly reflected his love for baseball and writing.
Topel co-wrote his first book, and he then pursued writing by himself. In his previous books, however, Topel did not get to go through the interview process. While writing When Shea Was Home, not only did Topel experience the interview process, he was able to meet and question many prominent figures in the sports world. “I had the really unique opportunity to speak to so many former Mets: guys like Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Ed Kranepool, and Bud Harrelson.” Topel explained how great it was to connect with these people, not only through the process of writing the book, but also through their shared love of baseball.
Topel’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in baseball. In fact, it is a great book for anyone who wants to learn about a unique and interesting topic. The period When Shea Was Home was an unusual time for the city that Topel captures perfectly in his superb book. Buckley is truly fortunate to have such an incredible person in its midst, and every day Topel shows the community why.