Not many Mets can pack the house like David Wright did tonight. Bustling from Field to the Prominade, there were very few empty seats Citi Field as the Captain took his last at-bats of his distinguished Met career.
But it’s fitting that Wright’s career ends at Citi Field, because like his career, it’s an imperfect stadium to end’s Wright’s imperfect career. Sure, mistakes were made, when it opened, which may have hurt Wright’s home run numbers, but that has been corrected. And even making the place more Met-like took a few years.
But one constant in this stadium throughout has been Wright’s presence, even the last few years when he showed up from to time to time rehabbing his back.
Now, Wright played three and a half years at old Shea Stadium and he seemed to love it there, but by the time he came up, Shea on Death Row and frankly it was the home to Seaver, Gooden, Strawberry and Piazza. Wright was just a caretaker there as Citi Field rose along with Wright’s career.
Today, the stadium said thank you to No. 5, which overwhelmed one Mr. Wright.
“When you see the stadium packed like that,” Wright said. “There is no way to describe the feeling of having your name chanted and seeing the signs of the fans thanking me.”
Citi Field should be known as the “House that Wright Built.” It was supposed to be built with him in mind. When the construction publicity pictures were taken, Wright was the player taking phantom swings at the location of home plate.
The stadium was supposed to enhance Wright’s career, however it hurt him in the beginning. Wright’s gap power was neutralized by the stadium’s quirky design. He was held to 10 home runs and 72 RBI in 2009 after being an MVP candidate the previous two years.
It was only after the 2011 season, when Sandy Alderson brought the fences in, that Wright was back to normal with a .306 average, 21 homers and 93 RBI. All was right with the Mets and David Wright and he signed a 138 million extension.
But as Citi became a regular ballpark and the pitching talent started coming through the system, Wright’s back started failing. He broke his back in Colorado in 2011, which took a few years to really slow him down and eventually rob him of the second half of his career. He developed Spinal Stenosis in 2015, but was able to come back in August for the playoff run to the World Series.
It was fitting the first Citi Field Mets home run was David Wright and the first World Series Mets homer was David Wright’s in Game 3 of 2015. He deserved that October run, much like he did nine years before in 2006. At that time though, Wright was just a member of the cast of characters, while he was the Mets hero and the face of the franchise. He was the captain. Wright was the one who went on Jimmy Kimmel and Wright was the one who spoke for the team.
As captains go, Wright was may have been the first true captain in team history. Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter had the title at the end of their Met tenures, while John Franco owned it as a relief pitcher. But Wright was more like a captain the way Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly were with the Yankees.
And much like those two, Wright goes out all too early and a Hall of Fame career is cut short. It’s an imperfect end in a stadium that has had an imperfect history.
Today we said thanks to the Mets captain in his stadium. A fitting goodbye to Citi Field’s greatest player.