Another sign that the Steve Cohen era has the Mets turning the corner was the professional celebration of Keith Hernandez on Saturday.
Sure the Mets have done nice ceremonies in the past, but this had a different feel. It was something you would expect in the Bronx from the Yankees, who in all honesty have plenty of experience with number retirements. Or from the New York Rangers, who seem to do it the best.
But this was in Flushing and the Mets did it right. A sold-out crowd and the right person to honor. Every fan in the stands have been affected by Hernandez. The Baby Boomers and Gen Xers had the privilege of seeing No. 17 play at Shea Stadium, while the Millennials and Gen Zers have enjoyed his broadcasts for the past 23 years.
And even the most casual of fan appreciates Hernandez from his time of Seinfeld.
So yeah, the Mets did it right.
But now that No. 17 is up in the rafters and the leader of the 1980s Mets is immortalized, it’s time to look ahead and see whose number should be immortalized up high above left field in Citi Field.
David Wright’s No. 5 is an obvious choice and sure it will happen sooner rather than later and if Carlos Beltran gets into the Hall of Fame and wears a Met cap, well then No. 15 should be retired as well.
However, now that Hernandez if up there, the next number should be Gary Carter’s No. 8.
Now this is a number that has been unofficially retired since 2003, when Carter went into the Hall of Fame. Although he wanted to go in as a Met, the Hall chose an Expos hat, which at the time seemed like the right thing to do.
But it remained out of circulation in Queens. The Mets could have retired it at any time and should have done it back in 2003 and then 2012 after he passed away, but remember that during the 2012 season, the club was celebrating its 50th anniversary and at the same time was reeling from the Madoff Scandal. The Mets wore a patch, but the number remained safely unretired and out of circulation.
So yeah, let’s retire No. 8. Unlike Saturday, the Mets may not have the tremendous sellout for Carter. It’s one thing to pour your love out for Hernandez a man who comes into your home on Mets broadcasts, it’s another for a player that passed away 10 years ago and have his family there to give the speeches.
But the Mets did it with Tom Seaver’s family with the statue unveiling earlier this year and remember No. 14 was retired after Gil Hodges passed away.
And there’s no worry about timing criticism, since the Wilpons are no longer in power and Cohen is as popular of an owner right now as any in this town.
Next season will be the 20th anniversary of Carter getting elected to the Hall of Fame. With the Mets rightfully retiring No. 17, it’s time to honor the second captain in team history and put No. 8 up to the rafters in 2023.