Monday, December 20, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: My Rendezvous With Keith Hernandez

As any longtime reader of Studious Metsimus would know, I have always wanted to meet Keith Hernandez. Ever since I witnessed him feed corn chips to a bear on television during the 17-inning game against the Astros (the game in which Carlos Beltran made a game-saving over-the-shoulder catch while running up Tal's Hill in straightaway center field) in 2007, I knew I had to meet Keith.

This weekend I found out that Keith was going to be at Darryl Strawberry's restaurant in Douglaston, Queens. So I went through my planner and canceled all of my appointments, most of which involved having cookies, to make sure that I could meet my idol.

I'm Joey Beartran and in today's edition of my soapbox, we're going to talk about my rendezvous (that's French for "rendezvous") with legendary Mets first baseman and SNY analyst Keith Hernandez.

We did not have reservations to the event (no thanks to my Studious Metsimus colleague) so we got to Strawberry's a little before 4pm. Since Keith was not due to appear until 6pm, we sat at the bar and waited patiently for him.

As we approached 6pm, the restaurant started to get quite crowded in anticipation of Keith's arrival. Then 6 o'clock came and went with no Keith. I looked at colleague's watch. 6:05, no Keith. 6:10, no Keith. 6:15, you get the picture.

I assumed there was a Tootsie Pop convention that had run a little late. That was the only explanation I could think of for Keith's tardiness. So I decided to pass the time by having a little bar food, and by bar food, I mean a big 10-ounce burger with smoked applewood bacon and horseradish sauce served on an English muffin with a large side order of tater tots. I call this my appetizer.

The clock kept ticking and Keith still hadn't arrived. It was well past 6 o'tot, I mean, o'clock. Where was Keith? The fans were getting antsy and I was finishing my appetizer. Something had to happen soon!

And then it did. The great Keith Hernandez walked into the building.

He walked into the booth reserved for him and ordered an adult beverage. Then the fans with reservations started lining up to meet and greet the man who's a hero to corn chip-eating bears across America, and perhaps, the world.

In between the handshaking, picture taking and autograph making, Keith appeared to be quite interested in the college football game on the TV over the bar. Since I didn't think it was possible for anyone to have a rooting interest in a Northern Illinois-Fresno State Humanitarian Bowl matchup, I assumed he was looking for me.

Let's flash back to when we got to Strawberry's. We spoke to Olivia, who's in charge of the Strawberry's Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as their event planning. Although she spoke to my colleague, she couldn't help but be charmed by my bearish good looks and outgoing personality. This would come in handy a few hours later...

...It is now a few hours later. As the people with reservations were still snaking around the restaurant in a line to meet Keith, Olivia came up to us and told us "you're on" and escorted us to the back of the line. It was finally going to happen. I was going to meet Keith Hernandez!

A few minutes later we finally got to Keith's booth. Although only one photo was allowed per person, I used my Studious Metsimus credentials (a.k.a. the people I came to the restaurant with) to get two photos with my idol, which I now share with you below.

There were hundreds of people there to see Keith and he took photos with everyone in line and gave autographs to all of them. I was going to ask him if his contract with Just For Men had expired since I did notice some gray hairs smiling for the camera, but I refrained from doing so. What does it matter anyway? After all, he's Keith Hernandez!

Although his appearance was only supposed to last until 7:30pm, he stayed past that time, making sure all of his fans were accommodated. Keith was a good sport the whole time.

I will never forget that magic Saturday night in Douglaston. From the great appetizer to meeting my idol to getting his autograph, it was a perfect night. I was too excited to ask him to feed me corn chips (and yes, I did bring a bag of Frito's corn chips with me...I'd also like to say that because of the free Frito's product plug in this blog, I'd like to be compensated with some additional bags), but that didn't take away from a terrific evening.

I'd like to thank Olivia and Strawberry's Sports Grill for having me as a guest for the meet and greet with Keith Hernandez. Now it's time for me to get off my soapbox. All this talk about corn chips is making me hungry!

To see more pictures from this event, please click HERE to view my colleague's Facebook photo album.

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