NEW YORK (AP) Pete Flynn, a popular groundskeeper for the New York Mets who spent five decades manicuring baseball diamonds from the Polo Grounds to Citi Field, died on Wednesday. He was 79.
The team said Flynn died after a long illness. No other details were provided.
Easily recognizable with his fire-red hair and beard, Flynn began his tenure with the Mets during their inaugural season in 1962 at the old Polo Grounds. He was the head groundskeeper at Shea Stadium from 1974-2001 and remained on the grounds crew until retiring in 2011, two years after the team moved into Citi Field.
Flynn was inducted into the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers Hall of Fame in 2015 and honored with the Mets Hall of Fame Achievement Award in 2012.
He also was the groundskeeper for the New York Jets when they hosted football games at Shea Stadium from 1964-83, and undoubtedly was the busiest man in the business in 1975 when the Mets, Yankees, Jets and Giants all played home games at Shea.
''Pete helped make our fields one of the best in baseball,'' Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. ''He took such pride in his work and was a pro's pro. Tom Seaver always said Shea Stadium's mound had no equal. That's a pretty good endorsement.''
One of Flynn's most charming memories was of driving The Beatles on the field in front of 55,000 screaming fans for their famous concert at Shea Stadium in 1965. In his distinctive Irish brogue, Flynn even reminded Paul McCartney of that ride when the former band member and rock `n' roll icon returned to play on stage with Billy Joel during his last concert at Shea in 2008.
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