I took my 8 year old son. Since we go on weekends so much he usually gets a promo at the door, and was disappointed when there wasn't one, so I bought him a 50th Anniversary commemorative Lego man at one of the clubhouse shops. This little guy is now a trophy like you wouldn't believe.
Usually after 3 innings of no-hit ball I start toying with the idea of a no-hitter, and only after 5 innings do I start to wonder, "will I see history today?!" And if a Mets pitcher gets to the 7th inning stretch without giving up a hit... Well I don't know, it had never happened to me! Besides, after 3 innings it seemed more likely that Wainwright would toss a no-no than Santana, after he walked a couple of guys on 4 pitches to rack up his pitch count while exhibiting a bit of a control problem.
I've seen several complete game shutouts and a few 1- and 2-hitters, but all with the no-hit bid broken up by the 5th or 6th inning. I had had tickets to the game on 9/29/2007 when John Maine took a no-hitter into the 8th inning, but I only that found out later because I was hosting a birthday party for my son (the same one now with me) and sold or gave those tickets away. This time I was in the thick of it.
My son got excited when the Mets scored runs, especially Duda's 3-run HR that barely cleared the new walls in RF, since he "called it" by saying he wanted to see the apple come out 5 seconds before Duda smacked it. Silly me, I thought that would be the highlight memory of the game for me at the time.
After 6 innings Santana had already thrown over 90 pitches. I wondered how deep he would go. Everyone around me agreed though that rebuilt shoulder or not, Collins would not pull him while he had a no-hitter going... He would get CRUCIFIED.
After Baxter's catch in the 7th inning - a hit that sounded like a HR off the bat, then looked like a double as it leveled its arc and tailed away from Baxter in left field - I felt JUST like I did watching Endy's Catch in 2006. I even saw the play from almost the same angle, the Mezzanine Reserved past 3B, very similar to my seats in Caesars Box over 3B. That something that amazing HAD to be part of something magical and special. Of course, I reminded myself that the Mets went on to lose that Game 7 in 2006, hold yourself back buddy, don't get hurt again...
Screw that. I'm a Mets fan, and this is WHY I'm a Mets fan: because for me, the true thrill of being a sports fan is from seeing magic, the amazing, the unexpected. And that's why I love being at the ballpark so much, why I go to 25-30 games a year for this team, because something about seeing the field in person makes that feeling more real. On TV it seems like could be just another scripted show, like how they faked the moon landings ;), but seeing is believing.
Nieuwenhuis made a few nice catches in LF after Baxter had to leave the game with an injured shoulder after his amazing catch, including a scary near-drop of a catch when he collided with Quintanilla. Torres made some catches of flares into shallow CF (including a broken bat shot from Beltran) that looked JUST like the kind I've seen drop in for lucky hits any number of times. But THIS time... They were caught and held on to. ALL of them.
I kept thinking, "they can't risk his arm with 150 pitches out there, can they?" But then he started getting outs on just 1 or 2 pitches. And when he batted for himself in the bottom of the 8th after throwing well over 100 pitches - 119, to be exact - I knew I would have a shot at seeing history.
The crowd was totally into every pitch in the 8th and 9th inning. Every strike got a cheer, every close ball got a sigh, every strikeout an ovation, every ball hit into the air was silent tension you could slice with a spoon (you wouldn't even need a knife).
In the 9th inning, added to the earlier friendly foul-ball call was the "you weren't hit by the pitch" call. All those calls that can go for or against a pitcher throwing more pitches than he ever has in his career were going for Santana.
I cursed myself for leaving my camera at home, I ALWAYS bring a camera to the game, so when the last batter got to 2 strikes I got my iPhone ready to do the best I could... Here it is:
Mets fans all around me were screaming, high-fiving, even hugging. Yes, I hugged strange big beefy guys and we screamed with our faces 2 inches apart, and I'd do it again, even with my son watching (who couldn't stop talking about how exciting the game was until he went to bed)!
I turned on WFAN in the car after the game and heard people complimenting Howie Rose on his call to end the game. Gotta go hear it now.