NEW YORK -- REO Speedwagon faced an uphill battle on Friday, playing the first installment of the Mets Concert Series after a 6-3 loss to the Reds. But the masses stayed at Citi Field and packed the first- and third-base lines to catch a glimpse of the '80s rock band. REO Speedwagon held up their end -- true to the ballparks' hallowed ground, the band walked to the stage to the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
"It's different, for sure, and it's special, too," lead singer Kevin Cronin said before taking the stage. "It's a lot easier for us if the Mets win. If the home team wins, when we go out on stage, it's a celebration of the victory. If the home team loses, it's a lot more pressure on us to get them going."
With the band's revival of hits like "Keep on Loving You" and "Take it on a Run," fans pushed aside the decision in Friday's game and sang along with Cronin, who wore a Mets jersey on stage.
"It was all a blur until the concert tonight," said Lucas Gorley, who came to the game with his twin brother Brian. "It was a 10. I was only here for REO Speedwagon."
While the band, which hails from Champaign, Ill., is rooted with Chicago pride, Cronin proclaimed REO Speedwagon Mets fans for the night. The band got a chance to see Johan Santana leaving the clubhouse, and one member posed for a picture with the southpaw.
Cronin tested out his broadcasting skills in the third inning, appearing on WFAN during the radio broadcast of the game. He said he enjoyed his time on the radio and might have a career in broadcasting in his future.
"It's awesome," Cronin said. "It's very, very cool. I got to wear the thing with the microphone that came around. I felt like a real broadcaster."
James Maresca, 24, from Long Island, came out to Citi Field to see REO Speedwagon for his fourth time. Maresca saw Paul McCartney at the Mets' ballpark a few years ago, and he felt he had to return to the venue to see one of his favorite bands.
"Very few things could be better. Probably close to nothing," Maresca said. "The game, unfortunately, the Mets lost, but hey, it's a great day, great weather out, great day at the ballpark. We got REO Speedwagon cranking out these classic tunes one after another."
The Mets will hold concerts after games throughout the summer. Daughtry will be the next act to perform in the Concert Series on July 20, and MercyMe will follow after the game on August 10.
"I think it's a great idea," said Jordan Decadia, a lifelong REO Speedwagon fan who came out to the ballpark with his kids and still listens to the band's Hi Infidelity album daily. "You get a ball game and then you have the concert and the show. It just makes for a complete evening when you get that kind of entertainment. You put it in a family environment, terrific idea."
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.