Review: “The Last Play at Shea” by Billy Joel (DVD)
“I’m just a kid from Levittown, and I’m playing Shea Stadium” says Billy Joel at the beginning of the brilliant documentary, The Last Play at Shea. The 90-minute film takes us through the history of both Joel’s career and Shea Stadium, a ballpark that opened in 1964 and had it share of classic moments. Everything from The Beatles historic concert in August, 1965 to the 1969 “Miracle” Mets to Bill Buckner’s costly error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series to New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza’s emotional home run to win the first game back after 9/11.
The interviews make this DVD sing. Joel recalls being on vacation and looking up and seeing supermodels Elle MacPherson and Christie Brinkley leaning on the piano he was playing, Paul McCartney tells us what it was like on that magic night in 1964, and how he was able to make it work in his schedule to play with Joel on the final night, Daryl Strawberry taking offense to people calling Shea “a dump,” and Keith Hernandez remembering how the stands shook with such force as he sat in the clubhouse during the ninth inning of Game 6 that he thought the fans were going to fall right through.
One of the most moving segments is about Pete Flynn, an gruffy Irishman who had been the head groundskeeper at Shea since 1964. Everyone from Tom Seaver to Strawberry talks about their love for the guy and how he was as much a part of the Mets as anyone. One scene shows Flynn driving McCartney to the stage and telling him “I drove you in 1964.” Classic.
Joel was the perfect choice to close Shea. He is New York and The Last Play at Shea is a fitting tribute to a “dump” that New Yorkers won’t soon forget.