(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
The ball is now in the Mets’ court, so to speak.
After years of inactivity when it comes to retiring the numbers of their great players, the Amazin’s have a golden opportunity to right the wrongs of past 28 years.
The Mets haven’t retired one of their own since 1988 when Tom Seaver’s No. 41 went up on the Shea Stadium wall and since then, the club honored 42 – along with the rest of baseball. They also also “retired” the name Shea for Bill Shea, whom the old stadium was named.
But when it comes to honoring their players, the Mets have been rather stingy. Unlike the Yankees, who have 22 percent of eligible player numbers retired, over in Queens there have been more World Series appearances than number retirements since the Franchise was retired by the franchise.
And that doesn’t mean every single number is being used. There are digits out of circulation, but not officially retired. The Nos. 8, 17, 24 and 31 are no longer given out to any player, but they are not on the left field wall either.
However in 2016, the Mets have a golden opportunity to right these wrongs, retire three of the four numbers and pretty much make everyone happy.
Let’s start with No. 31. With Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame as a Met, he should have his number retired sometime this season. The Mets and Piazza should work out a date when the Hall of Famer is in town and have a nice number retirement ceremony.
After that it gets tricky. The Mets should retire Nos. 8 and 17 for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez, respectively. However, Carter, who is in the Hall of Fame, passed away a few years ago and Hernandez will only get in the Hall by buying a ticket right now.
With this season also being the 30th anniversary of the 1986 club, the Mets have a solution. The Mets pulled No. 8 from circulation in 2003 – Matt Galante wore it – when Carter was elected to the Hall, but because he went in as an Expo, they never retired the number. It will look callus now to not retire 8 after not being in circulation, but retire 17.
So the Mets should use the 30th anniversary of the last World Championship to put No. 8 up on the wall. Invite Carter’s family as well as having his ’86 teammates there. It’s the best solution for a difficult situation. No. 8 should have been retired years ago before Carter passed, but let’s not cry over the spilled milk and use this opportunity to right a wrong.
Hernandez, on the other hand, may not in the Hall but he is a Met icon. He has been a broadcaster since Piazza was on the team, while playing in the 1980s for the club. He is also in the Mets Hall of Fame.
That said, the Mets should open their Hall of Fame up to their three broadcasters. Put Gary Cohen, who has been calling games in Queens since 1989, and Ron Darling, won 99 games and has 10 years in the booth, in the Mets Hall and retire No. 17, which was last worn in 2009 by Fernando Tatis, for Hernandez. Of course, SNY needs to re-sign Keith, but that should work out.
The Mets can schedule this date anytime during the summer, but should announce all the retirements at the same time, so no one’s feelings get hurt.
As for No. 24, keep it out of circulation until Willie Mays passes away and then start having players wear it again. Mays didn’t do anything for the Mets to retire his number. But since Mrs. Payson made a promise, the club should honor it.
There you have it. Make 2016 the year of retired numbers in Queens. It’s not like you are taking away these numbers from anyone and frankly it’s been a sore spot for Met fans over the past few years.
So make the fans happy, Mets. Make this happen.