Fans fight to save old Mets' home run apple

NEW YORK -- There's the Big Apple -- and then there's the
little apple that pops up at Shea Stadium when the Mets hit a home

When the New York Mets leave Shea Stadium in 2009, they may well
get a shiny new apple for their shiny new ballpark, not the dented,
faded and rickety home-run emblem beloved by some fans.

"We will have some sort of apple," Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz
told The Associated Press. "It is yet to be determined what form
the apple will take."

But some fans can't bear parting with the old apple, and have
started a Web site and a petition imploring the Mets owners to take
the original along when they move to Citi Field.

They don't need "any crazy gimmicks, shiny apples, bright
lights," the fans say in their petition. Just a fresh coat of
paint for the old apple will do.

They say it reminds them of their youth, popping up for decades
after home runs by fan favorites such as Darryl Strawberry and
Howard Johnson.

The Mets introduced the 582-pound piece of red plaster with a
green leaf in 1980. It emerges from a plywood top hat.

Other ballparks shoot fireworks or water, or simply play music
when their team hits a homer.

Not every Mets fan is a fan of the apple.

"It looks like a bad piece of balloon covered paper mache done
by a second grader. Popping out of a stove-pipe hat that looks even
worse," wrote one blogger.

"Ugh," said another. "It makes the Mets appear to be a
second-rate circus act."

Not so, argues a fan on a Mets blog. "I wouldn't mind having
our rotten apple refurbished and used in Citi Field."

Sketches for Citi Field include an apple behind the outfield
walls. The buzz among baseball fans is that the Mets will build an
elaborate new one, while the old apple could be auctioned off for
charity or displayed as a piece of nostalgia.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who represents Queens and is
a Mets fan, said he spoke to the team's management.

"They understand how important the apple is to my constituents,
and will make sure something similar survives," Vallone said.