PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It could have been a wedding, or prom night, for all the glamour in the room. Folks drove from hours away through snarled traffic, in suits and dresses, for what so many felt determined to make a festive occasion.
Shannon Forde deserved that much. This may have been a benefit to support the longtime Mets staffer's fight against breast cancer, but Forde was the last person who would have wanted melancholy. Instead, her friends, coworkers and longtime admirers danced and laughed throughout a November night in 2012 that was all about Shannon, marking the start of a fight that lasted three and a half more years. Forde passed away Friday at the age of 44, following a long battle with the disease.
"She fought, fought and fought," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "She came to work as long as she could. She loved her job and loved the Mets. I have so much admiration for the way she conducted herself the last several years."
Whenever Forde could, she continued to commute from New Jersey after being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in August 2012. Her appearance in the Citi Field press box during the recent World Series -- the second of Forde's 22-year tenure with the club -- was a highlight for those who had missed her presence, her smile, her irrepressible helpfulness.
"Citi Field won't be the same without her contagious smile and genuine personality," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said.
Very Sad to hear of the passing of @Mets Shannon Forde. A wonderful, dedicated member of the Mets family. Our deepest prayers are with you.
Forde joined the Mets as an intern after graduating from St. John's in 1994. A pioneer for women in baseball, she rose up the ranks to become the Mets' senior director of media relations, earning industry acclaim and a reputation for problem solving. Shannon fixed things. She was good at it. Her longtime boss, Jay Horwitz, often called Forde a "daughter figure" in his life. Third baseman David Wright recalls Forde as a nurturing influence during his early days in the big leagues, particularly in assisting his charitable foundation.
Forde leaves behind a husband, John, and two children, Nicholas and Kendall.
"Shannon was an absolute inspiration to everyone in this organization, including me, and I told her so," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "She was courageous in her fight and never let her illness claim her spirit. That spirit will remain with the Mets, in our memories and in our hearts.
The Mets will host a memorial service and a celebration of Forde's life on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET at Citi Field in the Foxwoods Club. Guests should use Parking Lot Entrance 8 and park in Lots B/D, then proceed to enter the ballpark via the Seaver VIP Entrance where they will be directed to the Foxwoods Club.
In lieu of flowers, the Forde family request that contributions be made to the Daniel P. Ryan Foundation. Checks can be sent to the attention of Gaby Ryan at P.O. Box 3145, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742. Contributions can also be made online at www.dprf.org.