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Man, does time fly. Five years have passed since Shannon Forde, longtime media-relations official for the Mets, died after a long battle with breast cancer in March 2016
Maybe the time flies in this instance, because we haven’t forgotten Shannon one iota.
“For me at least, it was her guidance,” retired Mets captain David Wright told The Post in a telephone interview, and the former third baseman flashed back to his major-league callup in 2004: “I was a young player. Most definitely, I was a little intimidated by New York as a 21-year-old kid. Being in the city for the second time in my life — the first time came when I was drafted (in 2001) and the Mets brought me in — I would say I was intimidated by the city. I was intimidated by the players in the clubhouse: Mike Piazza, John Franco, Al Leiter, Tom Glavine. I think she was kind of a calming influence on me early. She helped me with things that made me comfortable right away.”
As we celebrate National Women’s History Month, with Opening Day approaching, it feels like a good time to remember and salute Shannon in writing, in addition to our standard conversation about her. She was, Wright said, “a team mom-type figure” who bolstered the Mets brand not only by putting the team’s players at ease — and therefore improving their performances on the field, Wright agreed — but also enhanced the organization by the way she represented it to media folks like myself as well as the other clubs in Major League Baseball.
Wright said there was “a nurturing aspect” to Ford; he explained, “From showing me around the stadium and the clubhouse, to pointers with the media, to ‘Think about this restaurant,’ and ‘You could live in this area,’ she went above and beyond in a way that made me feel more comfortable early on.”
And as Wright became a superstar and an all-time Met, “She treated me the exact same way, and I’d like to think I treated her the exact same way,” Wright said. “She always had a way of keeping me grounded. If i said something or did something that was ‘big-league,’ she’d say, ‘I remember you when you were a pimple-faced 21-year-old kid.’”
When Wright learned in 2015 that he had spinal stenosis, the condition that prematurely ended his playing career, Forde was nearly three years into her cancer diagnosis. “She’d always be so worried about me,” Wright said. “I’d ask her, ‘How are you feeling?’ and she wouldn’t say much. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how gracious she was at a time when she was probably feeling so terrible, when some other people might be in bed, feeling sorry for themselves.”
She was so strong and noble, and all who knew her miss her so much. Time may fly, but it stands still when we have an opportunity to honor Shannon, so strong are our memories of her.
Wright, by the way, said he has spoken to Mets team president Sandy Alderson about a “part-time” advisory role with the Mets. The pandemic has slowed down the execution of such an agreement; with two young daughters in Southern California, he wasn’t going to travel to Port St. Lucie and follow baseball’s quarantine protocols just to hang out at spring training for a few days. Wright helped the Mets a little the prior two seasons when he still was under contract as a player following his retirement.
This week’s Pop Quiz question came from Gary Mintz of South Huntington: What song does Harpo Marx play on his harp during a 1955 episode of “I Love Lucy”?
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Your Pop Quiz answer is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” If you have a tidbit that connects baseball with popular culture, please send it to me at [email protected]
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