Former professional skydiver Michael Sergio was hoping to drop in at the 30th anniversary of the 1986 world champion Mets Saturday night. Alas, he wasn’t invited. Sergio, then 36, thrilled the Shea Stadium crowd — but perhaps not security and Mets management — when he parachuted onto the infield at the now-demolished ballpark before Game 6 of the World Series against the Red Sox.
“A polite no comment,” said a Mets spokesman when asked about Sergio’s exclusion from the celebration.
Sergio felt a bit let down. “The Mets are a brand,” he said Friday. “I totally condone the Mets doing everything they can to keep their brand pure. The guy that jumped into Shea Stadium is not a brand-buster, that’s a brand-enhancer.’’
In the 1980s, Sergio was working on the daytime soap opera “Loving,’’ appearing in television commercials and starting a singing career. He still performs at Manhattan nightspots. At 66, the New York City resident is president of CAVU Pictures, a distributor of independent films, and a former Emmy Award winner. But his first love was skydiving. He recalled what led up to that evening when he did his first and only non-sanctioned skydive.
“They had released a bunch of balloons up in Boston and the Boston media went crazy,’’ he said. “It just clicked. I said to myself, ‘Yeah? Watch this.’
“At the time I had 2,300 jumps,’’ he said, and landing at Shea “was like the Atlantic Ocean. Piece of cake. I’ve always kind of had an interest in doing things that no one’s done before.’’
Sergio said if he had detected anything amiss during the dive he would have diverted away from the field and headed for the parking lot.
Because of potential legal issues, Sergio has never identified the pilot or the aircraft he jumped from. He said neither he nor anyone on the ground was in danger. He never considered his act a stunt or himself a daredevil.
“I’m under a parachute that I know how to drive,’’ he said. “As I was coming down, the crowd must have seen me as I was well above the stadium because I heard this roar.’’
The landing took place between the mound and the first-base line. “My initial desire was to land around home plate. [The umpire] wasn’t moving. I didn’t want to spook [pitcher Bobby] Ojeda. Every thought I had was how could I do this but yet be as unimpactful as possible? I had my gold Mets banner on me, I’m going to go in there and I’m going to cheer this team on.’’
He was greeted by security personnel and taken into the Mets’ dugout. “Ron Darling gave me a high-five,” said Sergio, who eventually was taken to the 111th Precinct in Queens. “Every cop in Queens was coming down and I was signing autographs. It was actually a terrific situation. Everybody knew it was a fun thing. Everybody knew it was a New York moment. I actually got to watch the final ending, and believe me, I was sweating that game. I said to myself, well, if the Mets lose this Game 6, somebody’s going to say we lost because of Mike Sergio.’’
Several Mets players arranged for a lawyer to take his case pro bono, Sergio said. He later was fined $500 and ordered to do 500 hours of community service at the children’s section of the Central Park Zoo.
“Being a guy from New York City, I had never actually seen sheep before,” he said. “They actually are very cute little things.”
After the Mets won the Series, Sergio became something of a household word around town. It seemed everyone in New York knew him or at least of him, and his name usually pops up when the ’86 Mets are discussed.
Sergio knows New York and the world have changed and that fear would replace cheers if someone parachuted down from the sky. He laments the old days when, he said, “every now and then, somebody in some fashion floats out of the sky and everybody has a good time.’’