Say what you want about Jeff Wilpon, he did the right thing here. There’s plenty you can say about the Mets COO that warranted, however every once in a while, he does the right thing.
And lobbying the commissioner for the Mets (and the Yankees for that matter) to wear the first responder’s hats was the right thing to do.
It has been years in the making and MLB – through Joe Torre of all people – were very insensitive on the issue. There were many excuses, from other teams will want to do that for their events to simply they were just out of uniform.
Universally MLB took big hits on this. Mike Francessa grilled Torre back in 2011 when the incident first happened and for the past nine seasons, the Mets were able to wear the hats during batting practice and that’s it.
It seemed like the uniform police won, because unlike 2001 where players like John Franco and Al Leiter and of course, manager Bobby Valentine, who is no stranger to braking a uniform rule or two, pretty much told MLB we are wearing that hats and you can explain to New York that why we forfeit the games, no one in the Mets clubhouse would take a stand.
That’s until Pete Alonso was called up to the Majors.
Last season, he asked MLB to wear the hats and go “no” for an answer, so he had the team wear specially designed cleats last season.
“I love this city and I love everything New York has to offer,” Alonso said. “I was really excited that we get to represent all the people that saved lives and continue to save lives after that day. It’s awesome. I’m really, really happy about it. It’s still a day that we want to recognize all the people — I wouldn’t say recognize, but never forget. Never forget.”
The cleats received so much publicity that is forced the issue and Wilpon spent the last year lobbying the commissioner to change the rules.
And all of a sudden, the hats are back in play. Of course these are MLB sanctioned first responder hats with the Met NY on the side, which are on sale at Mets.com, so money was the obvious solution.
It’s amazing it took someone who was six years old at the time of 9/11 to get this great Met tradition back.
“It’s something that I didn’t fully understand being in Florida,” Alonso said. “Living in and being a part of the city on a day-to-day basis, immersing myself in it, that’s when I felt I started to understand it more and more.
“I’m not saying I completely understand it, because I didn’t live through that day. For me, seeing how this thing has affected fellow New Yorkers, honestly I think — it’s incredible in the worst way. I just want to represent those and recognize everybody who contributed to help save lives and make incredibly selfless decisions.”
Both the Mets and Yankees wore them on Friday and Alonso hopes the hats will be used every 9/11, especially next year when the two New York teams play each other for the 20th anniversary at Citi Field.
“I think we should’ve worn these hats every single time,” Alonso. “But I hope every single year on this day moving forward we get to wear these hats.”
And if that’s Jeff Wilpon’s legacy with the club, then Bravo!
Photo: Courtesy of the NY Mets.