He seemed like a mensch.
I wish I could tell you more about him, but I only met him five days ago.
And now he’s gone.
Dana Brand was a professor at Hofstra University, an avid Mets fan and blogger, an author of two books on the Mets, a husband and father.
In the relatively small subset of Mets fans that is the blogging community, he was a collaborator with and supporter of many and a mentor to all.
As much as I loved reading his writing, it was even more of a delight to speak with him face to face on Saturday night.
My family and I, along with dozens of other Mets fans, were at Foley’s Sports Bar in Manhattan Saturday night for a charity event sponsored by the foundation of SNY-TV announcers Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling.
As much fun as it was to see the likes of Cohen and Darling tending bar and having them each pour a drink for me, the true highlight of the evening for me was the fact that I left that intimate gathering of like-minded people feeling that I had made a new friend: having recognized Dana from photos on his blog, I tentatively introduced myself. I needn’t have shown such temerity: he enthusiastically greeted me by name and told me how much he enjoyed reading my blog posts–a real compliment coming from someone with his literary credentials!
After introducing him to my family, the four of us talked about everything from the special relationships that can develop between fathers and daughters, the operas he had seen at the MET, as well as my daughter’s experiences in the MET Children’s Chorus. Clearly, he was interested in getting to know us better personally.
When the subject did turn to the Mets, he excitedly told us of a special event he was planning in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Mets franchise to be held at Hofstra University. Dana seemed just as interested in sharing mutual remembrances of Mets history brought up by my husband Garry–a Mets fan from the team’s beginning and of Dana’s same generation. Garry enjoyed having the opportunity to tell Dana personally how much he had enjoyed reading both of his books.
I sensed Dana was appreciative of the favorable comments about his work. But Dana seemed to take particular delight when Garry turned to our daughter Melanie and, while pointing to Dana, informed Melanie, “This guy was THERE for Agee’s home run. He SAW it!!”
It was with obvious pride that Dana later introduced us to his lively, charming daughter and sister. As much passion and zeal as he obviously had for his team, it was very clear what a devoted and proud father he was as well.
Before we left Foley’s that night, we exchanged contact info with Dana, promising to meet up at Citi Field at a game in the near future.
It truly felt like we had met a real kindred spirit, and all of us agreed that we were so glad that we had made his acquaintance.
Dana passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon. I learned this early this afternoon through a Mets blog. Within a matter of hours, the sad news passed through the Twitter community and has resulted in countless other blog posts in honor of Dana. Word had obviously made its way to the SNY TV booth at Wrigley Field in Chicago as, watching this afternoon’s game on TV, we heard Gary Cohen make a brief tribute, mentioning Dana’s passing and what a devoted fan, blogger, and author he was.
In reading these blog posts, it is clear to me that I missed a real opportunity not having made Dana’s acquaintance sooner. He was obviously a person who had been a positive influence in many, many lives.
My family and I wish to add our condolences to Dana’s family and friends.
So sad. He seems like the kind of guy that would have looked forward to the upcoming year due to this ball club having so much mystery and in it’s rebuilding phase.
I couldn’t agree more, Theresa. Have you been invited to the celebration in Dana’s honor at Citi Field on July 16th? If not, let me know and I can send you details.
And thank you for the compliments. Wagner is my favorite to play, and I loved the excitement generated by the way the Ride of the Valkyries was staged! The orchestra is really enjoying working with Fabio Luisi, who conducted a beautifully paced Ariadne. I look forward to working with him more next season!
Yes, Susan, I’m aware of the event, but don’t know yet if I will attend, because I may not be in town that weekend. If I can make it, I definitely will.
Dana and I talked about opera, too, and the similarities between going to a game and going to the opera, and between opera fans and baseball fans, and how it all overlaps somehow. 😉
Those last two weeks of this past season were pretty giddy for me. I can’t imagine anything more exciting in music than the Ring; I loved Ariadne (mostly ;)), and I walked smack into Thomas Allen on the way out one night.
I can’t believe he’s gone. Mets-world can be such a frantic place, and the axis of Mets fandom, news media and internet can be so . . . intense . . . Whenever there was nothing but noise, Dana was there with perspective, with thoughtfulness, with compassion, reflection, all the good stuff that the internet usually drowns out and washes away.
BTW, you guys rocked at the Walküres and Ariadnes the last two weeks of the (opera) season.