Transplant recipient throws first pitch

Transplant recipient throws first pitch

Before Wednesday night's game, Maryann Steinbock got the ultimate opportunity for a lifelong Mets fan -- the chance to throw out the first pitch.

The 59-year-old's big night came as a result of another big night, one that saved her life.

Steinbock didn't even know how close she was to liver failure due to cancer before she got a very special gift in February -- a new liver.

In the middle of a snowstorm on Feb. 26, Steinbock got a call from doctors, letting her know that after eight months of waiting, a liver was ready for her. The only challenge was getting from her Nassau County home to the Bronx hospital where doctors would perform the transplant amid the mounting inches of snow.

A Nassau County patrol car led a motorcade, including a helicopter escort, from Steinbock's home to Montefiore Medical Center. She was so nervous that she talked nonstop about the Mets to keep her calm.

The Mets had provided a stabilizing force in Steinbock's life before the transplant. She and her girlfriends attended 40 games last season, as a way to take her mind off her treatments.

"I really didn't know how sick I was," Steinbock said. "Denial is a beautiful place sometimes. The only thing that really kept me going was the Mets --- I schlepped up here all the time."

Thanks to her transplant's success, Steinbock was back at Citi Field for Opening Day. Flanked by the officers who transported her that night, she threw out the game's first pitch Wednesday. Steinbock could barely contain her excitement.

"I've been with the Mets since '62," she said. "I've been there for all the World Series. I have pictures from when Lenny Dykstra hit the home run to win the pennant. I'm so thankful for everybody at Montefiore and for the Mets."

-- Bailey Stephens