Mets honor Times Square heroes

Mets honor Times Square heroes

NEW YORK -- Before Friday night's Giants-Mets game at Citi Field, Lance Orton Sr. hadn't been to a baseball game since he was a kid.

Of the hundreds of phone calls Orton received since helping to thwart the bomb threat in Times Square on Saturday, he said the one from Mets media relations asking if he would come to the game along with fellow street vendor Duane Jackson was the nicest thing he was asked to be a part of.

The Mets honored Orton and Jackson, both Vietnam War veterans, as well as Frank Formato and Paul Casquarelli, two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, before Friday's game to show thanks for their role in helping to protect the city.

"If this is what I have to do to get a message across for safety and for veterans, because there's a lot of veterans who work in the Times Square area, and they're the unsung heroes of Times Square," Orton said. "I'm not the only one that watches."

Orton couldn't help but notice the suspicious vehicle, still running and beginning to smoke, parked next to where he sat down to rest his leg.

Immediately, he knew that something was wrong and sought out local law enforcement with Jackson.

"I saw it and I acted," Orton said. "A lot of people now want to say, 'I was there' or 'I saw the car, too,' but I acted and that's the difference."

Orton said he was labeled a "reluctant hero" by the media because after being kept overnight and into the early morning hours of Sunday for questioning by Homeland Security and FBI officials, all he wanted to do was go home, lock the door and turn off his phone. But now that the dust has settled, he hopes people will realize the last thing he wanted to do was answer more questions from the media on no sleep.

Both Orton and Jackson said the last few days have been a whirlwind experience and the message they wish to convey to others is to be aware of your surroundings and don't be afraid to take action.

Jackson, a Mets fan, brought his wife and son to the game with him.

"It's brought me closer to my son and my daughter and my wife," Jackson said. "Events like this make you smell the roses a little bit."

Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.