My day at the ballpark with Mr. and Mrs. Met, the first family of MLB mascots

NEW YORK — The sounds of summertime have begun to play in New York City.

Children shriek as they drench themselves in the fountain of an open fire hydrant, Mister Softee trucks decorate neighborhood blocks with their looping music and, of course at the end of 7 line, you can hear the crack of the bat at Citi Field.

Major League Baseball is, for many, a mainstay of the warmer months. None more so than Mr. and Mrs. Met, MLB’s It Couple. Well, MLB’s only mascot couple − but the point stands.

Mr. and Mrs. Met at Citi Field
Mr. and Mrs. Met at Citi Field

When I visited the pair for an afternoon game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in May, they were as much a part of the ballpark experience as the hot dogs and overpriced beer.

With baseballs for heads and uniforms to match the players, the duo have no problem leaning into their goofy appeal. Unlike others, they are not animals or whatever any of the Philly mascots are supposed to be. Instead, they represent some sort of humanoid, perhaps an ode to fandoms that attach “head” to the end of their interest like "sneakerheads" or "Deadheads." They’re baseball-heads, literally.

The city's team

Online, Mr. and Mrs. Met cultivate an in-the-know persona, hopping on popular internet trends and playing up their romance. They also want you to know they're real New Yorkers. In the fall, a mock photo of a Mrs. Met balloon for the Thanksgiving Day Parade graced her Twitter along with another shot of her cropped into a line of high-kicking Rockettes.

That the couple are easily meme-able and don't mind matches the vibe of the team they represent.

The New York Metropolitans (Mets, colloquially) are a team rarely adopted by out-of-towners. Not for the bridge and tunnel crowd, they belong to the city and the fans who continue to stand by them even during slumps. "We stay true to the team even when they keep breaking out hearts," Adam Wattstein, 56, a lifelong fan tells me. He met Mr. Met a few years back at an event and was thrilled to snap a pic together.

Yoni Garber, 39, a longtime Mets fan with his daughter and her Mr. Met toy
Yoni Garber, 39, a longtime Mets fan with his daughter and her Mr. Met toy

While the Yankees, the city's other team, have what some might call “universal appeal,” others might malign it as stuffy austerity. The Yankees, notably, do not have a mascot. All the better for the Mets to have two, with enough personality to fill the stadium to the nosebleeds.

Married in the mid-seventies, Mr. and Mrs. Met have existed as a duo for decades but only began working full-time as a couple in 2013.

The couple greets fans
The couple greets fans

With a perky ponytail and thick lashes, she emits a sort of “cool mom” energy − like she would have the snack pack of Gushers in the pantry. And she can dance. For someone wearing clown-sized New Balances, her moves are enviable and Mr. Met seems to know it.

At times, it seems her star outshines his. She was, after all, nominated for the Mascot Hall of Fame this year by her lonesome and some users expressed outrage last month when Mrs. Met announced she was shuttering her individual Twitter account and future updates would be found at her husband's handle @mrmet.

Throughout my time with the couple, Mr. Met's adoration for his partner read clearly.

Meet another mascot What it's like to spend a day with the San Francisco 49ers' Sourdough Sam

An 'It Couple' in its element

Before the game begins, Mr. and Mrs. Met weave through the crowd of fans with their handlers, snapping selfies and stealing fist-bumps on the way down to the field. Young children in oversized jerseys rush behind them, eager to get a glimpse. Some distracted fans don't realize who's walking by until the size of the heads registers. They do jazz hands, bust a move and hold out for that fist bump when a tipsy fan careens in for an unwanted hug.

Once we make it to the diamond Mr. Met is sure to hold the door open for the Mrs. and blow her a kiss after she makes it through. Like most mascots, they don’t speak – opting instead for a sort of individualized sign language.

When we get introduced they’re all hand gestures and excitement. Mrs. Met clasps my hand and her husband drags me to take a picture.

Mr. Met takes on sports broadcasting
Mr. Met takes on sports broadcasting

After mingling with ballpark staff and dazzling young fans through the fence they return to their “offices” – no doubt to cool off a bit before the first pitch.

Mrs. Met greets fans before the game
Mrs. Met greets fans before the game

When they return to dance atop the dugout as the players take the field, Mr. Met sneaks up behind me and pulls a classic fake-out tapping me on one shoulder but appearing behind the other. Only his hyperbolically large head scares the life out of me which, I'm sure, was the point. He and Mrs. Met seem just as delighted by their interactions as the fans.

Perhaps that's the magic of the pair − they revel in their ridiculousness and in doing so give tacit permission for fans to do the same.

"First off, he's a big baseball. He's a family guy, he likes America's pastime," Yoel Genao, 40, says of Mr. Met.

"He's always in uniform, he's always spiffy, you can't beat him.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB's best mascots? How Mr. and Mrs. Met make it work in NYC

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