Who will it be?
Will it be Noah Syndergaard? Will it be Taylor Teegarden? Eric Campbell? Will it be Jack Leathersich? How ‘bout Steven Matz? Or could it be someone who’s currently still playing for another organization.
But it will be someone. And it will be soon.
Who are we talking about? We’re anticipating the inevitable statistic that the Mets will soon welcome the 1,000th player to appear in a game for the organization.
One thousand Mets. And it took only 52 years and 53 seasons to get there. Going into the season, the Mets had formally suited up 988 players, so the 12th newest player who comes to New York at some point later this year, maybe even in a few weeks, becomes Mr. 1,000.
On Opening Day, the Mets officially presented five new members to the organization – Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Jose Valverde, Bartolo Colon, and John Lannan, with Granderson indoctrinated first in the starting lineup, and Valverde and Lannan getting into the game later from the bullpen. So Grandy becomes Mr. 989, Valverde gets No. 990, Lannan becomes No. 991.
Granderson also became the 117th player to appear in a game for both the Mets and Yankees, but that’s another story for another day. Colon will soon become the 118th, and no doubt, others will eventually join that fraternity.
Do the players care? Nah, not in the least bit. They couldn’t care less if they were the 100th this or 1,000th that. Being first in something positive is usually pretty cool, but after that, it’s “so what.”
It all started with Richie Ashburn, the first player in the first lineup in the first official game the Mets played in 1962. And appropriately, it’s a good thing Ashburn wore No. 1 on his uniform. Lots of firsts there. And he led off the game. The Mets began their life on the road in St. Louis.
A player only officially becomes a “played” player after he either makes an appearance in the field or comes to bat. Just being on the roster doesn’t really count. And sometimes not even being in the starting lineup of a game really qualifies. If, for whatever reason – injury, substitution, etc. – that player never makes it to the field or comes to bat, he was never really in that game or became a stat in the official annals.
Someday, the Mets should chart a list of their nearly 1,000 players sequenced in the order they appeared in a game and display it prominently somewhere at Citi Field for all the fans to ponder or reminisce. On the bricks outside the ballpark could be a good location, or out by the Shea Bridge, or maybe even encircling Shea’s original Apple as you exit the subway platform. You’d see fans lining up going, “I know that guy. I remember that guy. I don’t remember this guy. That guy played for the Mets?” And “who the heck was that?”
And the, when Mr. 1,000 shows up, the marketing possibilities could have been enormous. T-shirts, posters, pennants, and the like would have been added to the slew of souvenirs already amply provided at the ballpark.
To really take advantage, here’s a thought: Have Mr. 1,000 wear the number 1000 on his uniform for one day! Think of it. A forever trivia question and answer, and yeah, you’re right…kinda silly. But a quick way to get on Sportscenter and MLB TV all the other sports highlights shows, all 1,000 of them.