NEW YORK (AP) -There's the Big Apple - and then there's the little apple that pops up at Shea Stadium when the Mets hit a home run.
When the New York Mets leave Shea Stadium in 2009, they may well get a shiny new apple for their shiny new ballpark, not the dented, faded and rickety home-run emblem beloved by some fans.
``We will have some sort of apple,'' Mets spokesman Jay Horowitz told The Associated Press. ``It is yet to be determined what form the apple will take.''
But some fans can't bear parting with the old apple, and have started a Web site and a petition imploring the Mets owners to take the original along when they move to Citi Field.
They don't need ``any crazy gimmicks, shiny apples, bright lights,'' the fans say in their petition. Just a fresh coat of paint for the old apple will do.
They say it reminds them of their youth, popping up for decades after home runs by fan favorites such as Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson.
The Mets introduced the 582-pound piece of red plaster with a green leaf in 1980. It emerges from a plywood top hat.
Other ballparks shoot fireworks or water, or simply play music when their team hits a homer.
Not every Mets fan is a fan of the apple.
``It looks like a bad piece of balloon covered paper mache done by a second grader. Popping out of a stove-pipe hat that looks even worse,'' wrote one blogger.
``Ugh,'' said another. ``It makes the Mets appear to be a second-rate circus act.''
Not so, argues a fan on a Mets blog. ``I wouldn't mind having our rotten apple refurbished and used in Citi Field.''
Sketches for Citi Field include an apple behind the outfield walls. The buzz among baseball fans is that the Mets will build an elaborate new one, while the old apple could be auctioned off for charity or displayed as a piece of nostalgia.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who represents Queens and is a Mets fan, said he spoke to the team's management.
``They understand how important the apple is to my constituents, and will make sure something similar survives,'' Vallone said.
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On the Net: www.savetheapple.com.

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