Frank Fleming was trying to attend the Mets opener like he has done for nearly two decades Monday when a New Jersey Transit train in front of his derailed at Penn Station.
It was just the beginning of what would be a 10-hour odyssey from his home in Belleville, New Jersey, to Citi Field and back.
As he was hustling to catch an Uber from Secaucus to Hoboken, where he planned to take a PATH train to the city, Fleming and a News 4 New York crew crossed paths. His quick, fiery outburst was caught on camera.
“New Jersey Transit is the absolute worst! I’m not going to get to my game now because they are incompetent!” he said.
It was a sentiment many commuters could relate to after the second NJ Transit derailment in as many weeks. His story was one of thousands in the tunnels and train stations of the tri-state.
The "slow-speed derailment" at Track 9 in Penn Station around 9 a.m. led to several minor injuries and caused train delays and cancelations across the area.
Fleming ultimately got to the game, but it took him more than five hours instead of the usual two hours and he missed the opening day ceremonies.
“I’ve always done the pomp and circumstance of opening day, where you get to see the wreath come out, the Shea family comes out, you get to see the first pitch,” Fleming said.
“I didn’t see the first pitch. I don’t even know who threw out the first pitch. I didn’t get to see the national anthem. I didn’t get to cheer Cespedes when they introduced him. I didn’t get to cheer Bortolo Colon’s return.”
A devout sports fan, Fleming runs the blog SportsEcyclopedia.com. He said he takes off every year for the opener and has only missed one opening day since 1998.
When all was said and done Monday, the Mets beat the Braves, 6-0, and Fleming was there to see it.
“I commute 10 hours to get to and from Citi Field, and they won the game so I guess it’s worth it,” he said. “If they would have lost, that would have been just the cherry on top.”
Fleming said he had calmed down by the time he made it home Monday night, but he said the trip back home from Queens was just as chaotic, with crowded stations and transit attendants relaying conflicting information.
“All you see is a sea of humanity and nobody knows what’s going on,” Fleming said.
In that sea of humanity trapped between point A and point B, one man from New Jersey became the face of thousands of frustrated commuters.