Most Teens Crush
Memories of my crush, NY Mets catcher John Stearns
Most teens crush.
My crush was NY Mets catcher John Stearns.
In 1978 I was fourteen and a Mets fan but something (it was hormones, the something was hormones) suddenly triggered the awareness in me that many MLB players were quite, um, cute. Quickly number 12, Mets catcher John Stearns, became “my guy”. (Ironically the Mets got him when they traded away my childhood “guy”, Tug McGraw.)
He went by the nickname “Bad Dude” or just “Dude” but I never called him that. It seemed like it was a “between guys” kind of nickname.
He was from Denver, Colorado. He drove a Cadillac (I know this because my friend AM and I would wander past the players’ lot at Shea and there was only one car with Colorado plates.) He was tough and regularly used his college football skills to block the plate, including the time he held fast and the Pirates Dave Parker ended up with a broken jaw.
Another time he started a brawl with future Met star and Hall of Famer Gary Carter because he felt that Gary elbowed him in the face.
He set the Met record for most steals by a catcher.
He represented the Mets as an All-Star in years when the Mets really didn’t deserve to have a player on the All-Star team. Did I mention the Mets were awful during the years I was drooling over #12? Horrendous.
But we kept rooting and going to games and “sneaking” down to field boxes to try to get autographs and chat with players during batting practice (in reality no one was sitting in those seats so we’d stay down there for the game, it was a different time... )
In 1980 John had shirts made up for his languishing teammates that read “We Can Win” (admittedly a defeatist slogan for a team that at the time could not win) so AM & I had We Can Win t-shirts made up and wore them to a game, scrambling down to where John was signing autographs to show them off. I’m not sure what he thought of these 16-year-old girls thrusting their baby-blue t-shirt-clad chests at him (I mean, I can imagine what he thought…) but he was polite and signed autographs for us.
As the 70s became the 80s and I rolled into adulthood I had a serious boyfriend, and my crush on John began to feel more like cheering on a big brother. Yet he never lost his place as my favorite Met.
Earlier this year I heard that John was seriously ill. Photos showing him thin and using a walker appeared. Stage 4 prostate cancer. The same thing that took my dad.
A couple of weeks ago the Mets had their first Old Timers game in years. 60+ former Mets showed up, among them John. Although he looked thin and frail, he took batting practice according to alum relations head Jay Horowitz.
This morning I woke to the sad news that John had died. He was 71.
Most teens crush. If we’re lucky our crushes stay with us in our hearts, and that piece of my heart is broken today💔.
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