Prayers up, Mets fans, for The Pin Man.
Nick Giampietro, the popular staple at Shea Stadium and Citi Field for his pin-adorned Mets jersey and cap, was diagnosed this week with the coronavirus after his mother lost her life earlier this month to COVID-19. The Howard Beach resident’s father also currently is hospitalized in Queens due to the viral pandemic.
“Going to the games and interacting with everyone is something I have so much fun doing and I miss it right now,” Giampietro told The Post on Saturday. “I miss all of the camaraderie and all the love from the Mets fans. I just hope that everything gets back to normal, or somewhat normal, in the near future, as we all do.
“And I just want to tell everyone this is a really serious thing, and they should take every precaution they can. With God watching over us, hopefully we all can get through it.”
Margaret Giampietro, 87, was admitted to the hospital on April 2, her son said. She immediately tested positive and died days later. She was suffering from dementia and had regular homecare from as many as five nurses, but doctors could not pinpoint where or when she was exposed to the virus.
“We knew she was dying, but we couldn’t see her, and that’s what really sucks about this,” Nick Giampietro said, adding they had a very small funeral procession involving only immediate family, but they weren’t even allowed out of their cars at the cemetery. “We didn’t want her to go [to the hospital] initially, but she was not eating, and she wouldn’t even swallow any water or anything.
“We were hoping she’d be able to get hydrated and get better at the hospital, but evidently the virus already had taken over. That immediately put a lot of fear in me and my dad.”
Anthony Giampietro, 89, was tested after his wife was admitted and his results also came back positive. He currently is in a Queens hospital with low oxygen levels, though he is not on a ventilator and Nick believes his dad “is doing better” and “sounds like he’s getting stronger” from their brief recent phone conversations.
Giampietro got himself tested immediately after his father’s diagnosis and found out Monday he also had contracted COVID-19.
“My chest just wasn’t feeling right,” he said. “I had a fever for a few days, I had a cough, and I had this little — I can’t really explain it — I just felt like something was moving in my throat. It was just so weird.
“I seem to be better now, I’m on a couple of different medications. But I have minor lung issues, so that’s what scares you a little bit.”
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Giampietro, who has taken a leave of absence from his job at Andy’s Delicatessen in Middle Village, believes shutting down businesses, schools and prohibiting large gatherings was the necessary move to help stem the spread of the virus, even if it meant postponing the season in baseball and other sports.
“Honestly, I think they’re doing the right thing,” Giampietro said. “The idea is to protect the elderly and everyone else, and you don’t know who’s carrying it. I miss my baseball, just as much as anybody else, probably more, just because I love what I do with the fans over at the stadium.
“But this is more important. We’re not gonna have baseball or anything if we’re not healthy.”
Giampietro, who will turn 62 next week, started his run as the Pin Man at Mets games in 2006. But he has been regularly attending games since his father took him to the team’s home opener in 1968, a 3-0 shutout by Jerry Koosman against the San Francisco Giants, he readily recalled.
Nick and his parents also were in attendance separately for the historic comeback in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against Boston, and he was at Shea again two nights later when the Mets clinched their most recent championship against the Red Sox.
“Game 7 was supposed to be on a Sunday, and I went to the Jets game that day, and fortunately we had like four or five inches of rain and they canceled the World Series game and pushed it back to Monday,” Giampietro said. “I was so thankful for that. They’ve been such a big part of my life, and my family, and ’86 was the highest point of being a Mets fan.
“But I went to so many games with my dad growing up. We used to work in a restaurant called the Big Bow Wow [on Crossbay Boulevard in Howard Beach], and we used to get a lot of tickets from the bread company and the beer companies. We had seats right behind home plate at Shea. I got spoiled early.”
Giampietro used to wear more than 300 pins on his Mets jersey at one time, though that number has decreased because, as he joked, “it’s starting to get a little heavy as I’m getting older.” He will miss roaming the concourse at Mets games and taking his customary thousands of pictures with fellow fans in 2020, especially if the season eventually is played in Arizona without fans in attendance.
“Believe me, it’s gonna hurt not to go the whole year,” Giampietro said. “I’m getting older and I still look forward to it every year. Every year I get a new jersey, and I put all of the pins on it.
“I just feel like I’m missing a big part of my life. It’ll be great to have sports, but it’s gotta be done where no one is going to get sick. I don’t see how they’re going to do it.
“I know we need to get ourselves rolling again, but it’s gonna be tough to do, I think. It’s gonna stink watching the games with nobody there, it takes part of your heart out. You can’t get the team pumped up or nothing, and there might be no excitement, too. But in these times, we have to make our own excitement. And like I said, this is far more important.”