When he came up, David Wright was thought to be the Mets’ Derek Jeter.
Instead he became the Mets’ David Wright.
Earlier today, an emotional Wright announced his plans to say goodbye to baseball. After being activated on the last homestand, he will start the Sep. 29 game against the Marlins. Then Wright will unofficially retire, because he would be “physically unable to play Major League Baseball.”
It’s a shame for any player to have an end like this, but this one hurts even more. Wright has been as much of a face of the Mets as Mr. Met himself and he endeared himself to the fans over the years.
And that is because Wright was one of them. Growing up in Norfork, VA, he watched the Tidewater Tides, then the Mets Triple-A affiliate. He rooted for the Mets as they were filled with Tides alumni, making him as big of a Met fan as anyone in Shea Stadium.
And as he came up, you saw the wonderment of playing in his eyes. If every young person’s dream is to play for baseball for their favorite club, Wright fulfilled it and never let the privilege of playing baseball in New York go to his head.
He was perfect for the Mets. He was a humble leader, who never got into any trouble. There was never a negative headline written about him off the field and even on their field, Wright tended to get the benefit of the doubt.
It’s because he did it the correct way. He was there for the media. He made time for the autographs and when you spoke to him, you heard the excitement in his voice.
Simply put, if you needed a perfect model on how to act in the Major League, it was David Wright.
No matter how much his mind and personality wanted to play, his body just wouldn’t allow it. The rehab stint last month told him so. “I needed the games,” Wright said. “for my body to finally tell me it’s not happening. It’s not working.”
Back issues, which became neck and shoulder issues, put Wright on the shelf for the past two seasons. What was thought to be a future Hall of Fame career, was cut short of Cooperstown, as his numbers don’t add up.
But it does for the Mets, as Wright leads the franchise in many offensive categories and on the Mets Mount Rushmore, is up there with Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza.
Even Jeff Wilpon seemed agreeable today when asked if No. 5 would be retired someday, although he pushed that off to Jay Horwitz’s new Alumni Relations Department.
And unlike Seaver, who retired instead of being activated by the Mets in 1987, and Piazza, who went to San Diego and Oakland after leaving the Mets, Wright will have his chance to say goodbye in 16 days to hopefully an adoring crowd at Citi Field.
Wright deserves that day, as he gave the Mets everything over the past 14 years. In the end, he wasn’t the Mets’ Derek Jeter.
He was something better. He was their David Wright.