When you meet actor Ray Abruzzo, you still think “Sopranos,” and when standing around a batting cage, baseball bats may have a different meaning with wise guys than when they are in the proper hands of the home standing Mets (Remember DeNiro playing Al Capone on “The Untouchables”?). But the veteran actor was all baseball on Monday night, when he and his fellow cast members from the new Off-Broadway play “Dinner With The Boys” paid a pregame visit to Citi Field as the Mets opened a series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“My first memories of what was Shea Stadium was the year it opened, 1964,” the Queens native said. “We came to a doubleheader against the Giants, my mom was working across the street at the World’s Fair, and the two games went on forever. We stayed to the end I will never forget it.”
Neither will Mets fans, it turns out, as that doubleheader Abruzzo referred to, May 31, 1964, ended up being the longest doubleheader in terms of time and innings in baseball history, with the second game going 23 innings and the visiting Giants winning both ends, 5-3 and then 6-4. His knack for attending long games didn’t stop on Monday, as the Mets took 14 innings to oust the Cardinals 2-1, with the cast staying all the way through, even though it was their only off night of the week from performing.
Abruzzo is putting in a marathon of himself these days, doing eight shows a week with Dan Lauria and Richie Zavaglia in the comedy at the Acorn Theater, which is billed as a fun takeoff on wise guys, almost a lighthearted look at the dark comedy that he was part of for so many years on HBO where he played “Little Carmine” to such rave reviews.
Despite spending so much time in Los Angeles, Abruzzo remains loyal to his Mets, and got a great kick out of meeting Mookie Wilson while standing around the batting cage on Monday night.
“Man, 1986 seems like yesterday, and when that ball went through Buckner’s legs…,” he laughed and smiled when chatting with Wilson. As far as this year’s team goes, like many Mets fans he seems optimistic. “They are young, fun to watch and have pitching like the old days I remember growing up,” he added. “In this town we love our baseball, and when the Mets, and the Yankees, are good it can be so much fun.”
Fun is also what “Dinner With The Boys” is bringing nightly to the Acorn Theater, with Mets fans and Yankees fans alike turning out to see the show that opened May 4. Hopefully come October both Abruzzo’s regular show and the one he likes to follow in Queens will still be running. For details on the play visit http://dinnerwiththeboysplay.com/