Why don’t the Mets retire more jersey numbers?

After spending a week down in South Beach, (and making Matt Cerrone very jealous), I now understand why Jose Reyes took his talents down there. In any event, it got me thinking about All-Time great Mets and how they’ve only retired one player’s number. Now, I know the Mets don’t have the history of teams like the Yankees and what not, but I think there needs to be more retired numbers out there on there on the Great Wall of Citi.

To retire a player’s number I believe they need three discerning characteristics:

  1. To be a leader on the field and in the clubhouse
  2. To have represented the Mets well for many years both on and off the field
  3. Their excellent leadership and play leads the team to winning seasons

Right now, the only number that is certain to be retired, is Mike Piazza’s 31. At this point it’s just a waiting game, and the Mets will probably retire his number after a couple years after his induction into the Hall of Fame.

The other recent topic of conversation is Gary Carter’s 8. Reports have come out that his condition has worsened and thus there has been an outpouring of support for The Kid. The problem is he only fits into two of the three characteristics I listed. He played 600 games for the Mets, and while he had some of his best year’s on the Mets, he just didn’t play long enough to have his number retired. For me, the games played limit is around 800, unless there are extreme circumstances.

Next brings us to the other guy who seems to be always talked about; Mr. Keith Hernandez. While I never got to watch him play, my father would tell me stories about him and the absolute wizard he was at first base. During his time with the Mets he was a five-time Gold Glover, a three-time All-Star, and won a World Series. With his amazing play in the field, at the plate, his clubhouse personality, as well as his contributions to the club after his retirement, I believe that the number 17 needs to be up on The Wall. And recent poll on MetsBlog shows that 82% of people agree with me that Hernandez’s number needs to be retired. He also has a wicked mustache, which helps his cause greatly.

Now comes Darryl Strawberry, the Mets All-Time leader in home runs, RBIs, and walks. Now if player’s numbers were retired merely on the statistics they put up, Strawberry’s number would have been retired by now. He was a controversial player in the clubhouse and his drugs and alcohol addiction was most likely the main cause of it. His addiction destroyed what could have been a Hall of Fame career. In recent years his life seems to be back on the right track. He set up the Darryl Strawberry Foundation, wrote a memoir, has been a part-time analysis for SNY, and recently opened his own restaurant in New York. I can certainly understand if the team wouldn’t want his number 18 up on The Wall, but at this point I believe the team should really consider it.

News came out today that the Mets are going to elect John Franco to the Mets Hall of Fame. Now the Mets need to decide if they want to hang up number 45. The Brooklyn native spent 12 seasons on the Mets and is the all-time leader in saves by a Met and is fourth all-time. He was also the last player to be where the letter “C” on their jersey for the Mets. For me, Franco not only meets all three characteristics, but he exemplifies them.

Another Met pitcher how played for 12 years on the Mets and deserves serious consideration is Jerry Koosman. In his rookie season as a Met he went 19-12 with a 2.08 ERA somehow placed second in the Rookie of the Year voting, losing to Johnny Bench. For the Mets he had a career ERA of 3.09, he his second all-time in innings pitched by a Met, third all-time in wins and strikeouts, and was a major reason why the Mets won the World Series in 1969.

I’m sure about the waiting period to retire a player’s number, but as far as Koosman and Hernandez go, I think they’ve waited long enough. With this year being the 50th anniversary of the team, it would be a perfect time to retire Koosman’s  or someone else’s number.

For me, I believe 36, 17, 45, and 31 need to be retired. Of course, this is an argument that could go on for days. Whose number to retire, and whose number not to. I don’t even want to get into David Wright and Reyes… that’s a discussion for another day.

6 comments for “Why don’t the Mets retire more jersey numbers?

  1. AV
    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I agree on Hernandez. I was 9 years old when the Mets traded for Hernandez and he changed the entire makeup of that team and organization just by showing up. You can’t say the same with the rest of the guys you name (other than Piazza.)

    In my opinion, what sets Hernandez apart is the story from Game 6 of the NLCS. He told Jesse Orosco that if Gary Carter calls for another fastball to Kevin Bass, he was going to call timeout and kick his a$$ right there on the field. Carter confirmed this story and Bass struck out to end the NLCS and send the Mets to the 1986 World Series.

  2. Chris F
    January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Perhaps we should look through the Brooklyn Dodgers rosters to find more numbers to retire?

    Anyways, its clear a huge problem with Citi is that it has so little Mets history there, and retired numbers, or recognizing the greats, is symptomatic of it. Indeed Koos’ 36 should be retired. I would add a fourth characteristic “intangible plus factor”. Something that, maybe even over a shorter time still makes a Met hero or legend. And Carter has it. Clutch and memorable hits, an anchor behind the dish for the world series. Regardless, of his present and terribly sad situation, his number should be retired. Mex and Franco for sure. And I’ll weigh in on the magical #7. Forget Reyes, he should never had had the number to begin with. It should be retired for Eddy Kranepool…Mr Blue and Orange…18 seasons. An original. A world series win. I would offer Grote as a possiblity too.

    Good article Brandon. Ive been talking with friends about this for a while.

    Chris

  3. brendan
    January 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Ed Kranepool. Check out how many Mets records he holds and how often he is still there at Mets events

    • Brandon Lee
      January 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      That’s another one I was going to mention, but I could mention players they could retire all day. It’s just confusing for me why Kranepool’s and Koosman’s numbers aren’t retired. I really don’t get it. Not sure if they are waiting for some momentous occasion or if they truly feel they are undeserving. The Mets have had great players, there needs to be more than one players number retired.

  4. Jon M
    January 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    31 for Piazza definitely. 45 for Franco: definitely not.

    8, 36 and 17 for Carter, Strawberry and Hernandez are all ones that I’d easily support, but wouldn’t oppose if they just left them as Mets Hall of Famers either

  5. Joe S
    August 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    There’s one more who needs serious consideration. Rusty Staub. Although he wore 2 uniform numbers (4 and 10). The Montreal Expos retired his number 10 even though he played only 3 years from ’69-’71, and a brief stint in ’80.
    Rusty Staub was a hitter extraordinaire. From 1972-73 he played with 2 fractured hands while still putting up decent numbers playing through pain. In the 1973 post season he socked 4 homeruns and 11 RBIs. One of those homeruns he hit with a partial shoulder separation during the ’73 World Series. The injury occurred while we made a spectacular catch in the ’73 playoffs.
    During the end of his career, he became one the the best pinch hitters in baseball. His career stats are similar to that of Tony Perez.
    Not only should the Mets retire his number, but the Veterans Committee should consider his membership to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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