Two blocks from Shannon Dalton Forde’s longtime home, the Borough of Little Ferry (N.J.), the Mets, and Major League Baseball dedicated a youth baseball and softball field in her memory on Friday morning.
A testament to the late Mets public relations official’s popularity, the ceremony drew a large crowd of VIPs, including Sandy Alderson, Omar Minaya, Jeff Wilpon, Willie Randolph, David Wright, and John Franco, as well as Forde’s two children and other family members.
Spearheaded by Mets VP Jay Horwitz, more than $235,000 was raised to renovate the field, which has been named “Shannon Dalton Forde Memorial Field.”
Forde passed away in March 2016 at age 44 after a battle with breast cancer.
Wright fondly recalled Forde helping him handle the transition to Major League Baseball and the friendship that forged.
“I was 21 years old, I had just been called up and, forget about navigating my way through Major League Baseball, I didn’t know how to get to the ballpark. I didn’t know how to enter the ballpark. I didn’t know how to leave tickets for my family. I didn’t know where the food room was. I didn’t know how to talk and properly conduct myself with the media,” Wright said. “She was the driving force behind, if not all, then a lot of that [learning]. After that, it became a pretty good friendship — almost like a big sister, little brother — where she was always looking out for me. She told me where the good restaurants were, who to hang out with, who to steer away from. From very early on, she really treated me like a younger brother.
“I didn’t know what to expect driving up today, and it’s just an incredible outpouring and show of support and love. She obviously grew up and played on this field. And now to get a chance for her kids to see this field so beautiful and to get to play on it is pretty special to be a part of.”
Wilpon credited Horwitz for being the driving force behind the fundraising effort that led to the renovation.
“We all know that when Jay gets something he wants to do, there is no one more dogged about the process and wanting to see it through,” Wilpon said. “When it hits home, like this did for him with Shannon, there was nothing stopping him. We just all got behind Jay.”
Alderson, himself having been diagnosed with cancer, described Forde as an example of grace.
“You can respond to a serious illness in a variety of ways,” Alderson said. “The way she chose to respond was incredibly inspirational to me, and instructive as well. With that in mind, over the last year and a half or so, Shannon is constantly in the back, if not the front, of my mind and thoughts.”
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.