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Mets hurlers read to students at PS 92 in Corona

Teachers at PS 92 might have thought Mr. Met is a little too good at his job.

Students were calmly filing into the  gymnasium, at 99-01 34th St. in Corona, last week for story time with Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato, two pitchers for the Amazin’s, until one child spotted a bulbous baseball head emerge from around a corner.

“Hey, it’s Mr. Met!” he shouted.

The mascot pranced around the hallway and whipped the children into a frenzy, which was probably the most excited they have ever been before reading a book.

And according to the teachers and organizers of the event, that was exactly the idea.

“One of the goals of the organization is to instill a love of reading in the children,” said Kirkley Strand of Everybody Wins! “The idea is that baseball is something kids can relate to and love, and we can tie it into an activity that they don’t think is as fun.”

Beato and Parnell also hoped to use their hero status to promote education since, for example, a children’s author would likely not prompt screams and chants from the audience.

“It’s something to share with the students,” said Beato, a rookie with the team and Sunnyside native. “They might see us on TV, but we were sitting right where they were.”

He stressed his humble Queens roots. Although born in the Dominican Republic, he moved to Ridgewood at 13 and attended public school in both Queens and Brooklyn. He said education is an important foundation for everyone, regardless if they are on television or not.

Beato and Parnell once looked up to ball players when they were elementary school students, but they might have been mistaken for coaches at a pep rally at PS 92, since the room was filled with orange and blue.

Before the players entered, a teacher banged out “Meet the Mets” on an electric piano accompanied by a group of singing students.

It took some time to quiet down the kids, but Parnell soon began to read “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” in his matter-of-fact Southern drawl.

“I’ve done this a few times before,” he said after the event. “It’s exciting, especially when the kids get into it.”

And the kids certainly got into the second story.

In “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” the main character is a bird who implores the reader to let it get behind the wheel. Beato saw nothing wrong with the idea, which drew boos and shouting from the crowd.

“You’re mean,” he told a student in the first row who vehemently condemned the pigeon.

A handful of children got to ask the pros questions.

One student wondered how long it took to become a New York Met, another wondered whether the players liked it when the crowd yelled at them.

“Depends,” Beato answered.

The two pitchers seemed to enjoy the noise in the gymnasium, though, and posed for a picture before preparing for a game later that evening.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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