The series-changing play between Chase Utley and Ruben Tejada on Saturday night in Los Angeles was tough to swallow for all Mets fans, but probably none more so than Will from Queens. Will Collins, a 42-year-old eighth grade math teacher, made national headlines after calling into Mike Francesa’s show on Sunday morning. Will broke down into tears as he discussed his feelings on the play that gave the Dodgers a 5-2 win and took Tejada out for the rest of the season with a broken fibula.
But on Monday night as the Mets walloped the Dodgers 13-7, Will was doing anything but crying. He was sitting next to Francesa at Citi Field watching the Mets exact their revenge.
CBS New York caught up with Will this afternoon and spoke with him about the entire experience, from crying on air to taking in his first Mets game alongside a radio legend.
(Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity)
CBS New York: How did this entire thing unfold, from Sunday up to the game on Monday?
Will: “After the whole initial phone call on Sunday and getting emotional and all that, I went home that night and my family saw that it was everywhere – I got sent this YouTube thing, it was on Sports Illustrated, Daily News, the Post, it was ridiculous. So the next day I called up because some people thought Mike was being tough on me, so I just wanted to say WFAN was great, and I was really just trying to get my feelings across. Mike picked up on it, and the next thing he said was, ‘alright, you’re coming with me Monday night.’
When it happened I was actually tutoring and I told them obviously I’m not going to be tutoring tonight. Then one of Mike’s guys, Julio, called me and said ‘Will, I’ll pick you up out of the 7 train.’
On the train I was literally like, ‘I have never been to a sporting event before, and I’m going to a playoff game.’ It felt like I was doing something I shouldn’t be able to do, it was an honor, a total joy.
At the game I was pretty much keeping a low profile, the fans were crazy it was just awesome. People were walking around with signs saying ‘we’re all Will from Queens.’ I showed Mike and he couldn’t believe it.
Then the Mets came over with a baseball and I had Mike sign it for me. It was just joy, seeing the players, then they win, which was amazing.”
CBS New York: What was it like sitting with Mike? What did you guys talk about?
Will: “It was amazing, my kids made little cards for me to give to him and he really just wanted to know about me and what I teach. He kept telling me about his 10-year-old son and we talked about algebra. He said ‘one of my friends was going to go, and the friend didn’t know who was going but gave me the spot.’
Mike was totally a gentleman, didn’t let me pay for anything, and I looked at him and said ‘life is good.’
I asked him about his most memorable moments in sports, and just the joy of a nice personal conversation with Mike as the best thing I’ve ever been to was going on, was amazing. I felt like I was going into and out of reality.
Then the Mets brought over a ball and I had Mike sign it, and I knew I was going to give it to my son.
Honestly, the best thing that happened was my phone died, then I really just got to enjoy everything.”
CBS New York: How have your family and friends been reacting to all of this?
Will: “They literally can’t believe it. All of my students have found out and I took a photo of my first period class and sent it to Mike, and one of the girls is holding the ball he gave me.
It just feels like it’s not really happening. My brother keeps sending me these links, and I know it’s not gonna last.
Was back to reality when I came back into school though. Tonight I’ll be listening to the radio. I think Mike got a kick out of the fact that I don’t have cable, so I’ll be back to listening to the radio. I’ll know what it feels like being there though. Radio is great, but sitting arms length away from the players and the dirt and the field was amazing.”
CBS New York: Did you have any idea this might unfold the way it has?
Will: “Not at all. I just got out of church and dropped my kids off when I called on the FAN, and I’ve never gotten through before. I was never prepared to get on, then suddenly ‘OK, Will from Queens.’ Then I started to cry and hung up the phone and went upstairs and told my wife and she started laughing. I feel like I’m part of the whole show and this was not supposed to happen.”
CBS New York: What was your favorite part of the night?
Will: “When I first met Mike and when Tejada came out on crutches, that was literally like goosebumps because the crowd was so loud. Then when Cespedes hit that home run. And walking out of the tunnel with this lovely guy – I know Mike’s tough, you know how he is, but he’s such a gentleman. Then just feeling like ‘wow, how did that happen.’
Walking out of the tunnel, a teacher from queens sitting with Mike Francesa, just so many things. There were a lot of smiles, the baseball was great and just being part of the Mets thing we got going this year.
It was just so awesome that they did all that for a fan. It felt like I was getting to rep people who never get to go to the game. I felt like Rudy, just how the hell did this just happen. CBS, The Fan, Mike, it all happened so fast, but thank you so much from me and my entire family.”
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for either of his other three teams.