For lifelong baseball fan David Pegram, the stars aligned at a 2019 conference, where he learned of author David Krell’s call for papers about the New York Mets. Pegram, a Paradise Valley Community College Residential Faculty in English, had been nurturing a clever story idea about the Mets baseball hat for a few years; how the hat had become problematic for two well-known actors in separate blockbuster films and garnered its own side story. Then, after hearing of Krell’s book at the 2019 NINE Spring Training Conference, an academic conference on baseball history and culture, Pegram approached the editor with his unique story idea and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Pegram’s essay is part of the collection The New York Mets in Popular Culture: Critical Essays, edited by Krell. His essay delves into how Billy Crystal in the movie City Slickers and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl - both of whom wear a Mets hat in their respective films - faced outside influences into their decisions to don a Mets cap. It explores the impact of the decision in the actors’ real lives versus their character’s lives.
Originally from Southern California, Pegram’s dad is a Dodgers fan, and he took Pegram to his first game at three years old. Coincidentally, the Dodgers were playing the Mets that day. After that, Pegram was fortunate to attend many World Series games at Dodger Stadium, fostering his love of the game. An avid sports fan in general, Pegram completed his dissertation on young adult baseball fiction and currently teaches a PVCC course in Sports Film and Literature (ENH140AA).
However, it wasn’t until he read an interview with Affleck in which the actor describes his refusal to wear a New York Yankees hat in the movie, that the idea for his own story started to form. Boston-native Affleck, a diehard Red Sox fan, refused to wear the rival Yankees hat, therefore, settling on the other NY team’s hat. In researching his essay, Pegram discovered Crystal faced a similar situation. A lifelong Yankees fan, he did not want his real life persona to get tangled with his character’s in the movie, and wore the Mets hat instead, causing fans to take notice and question his choice.
Pegram, who is co-chair of the annual NINE conference in Tempe that attracts many of the very best baseball researchers and historians from around the country, pitched his story to Krell. Pegram said he responded “enthusiastically”, and 18 months later, the finished product is on the shelves. To read Pegram’s work, visit https://www.amazon.com/New-York-Mets-Popular-Culture/dp/1476680108.