The Mets announced that Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Darryl Strawberry will have their respective numbers retired on two separate dates during the upcoming season.
Seven Mets players/managers have had the honor of having their number retired, so Gooden and Strawberry will make it 9.
David Wright’s #5 will eventually be retired so #10 should be #7.
I know that sometimes retiring numbers can be overdone, but Ed Kranepool should have his number seven retired by the Mets.
Casey Stengel (#37), Gil Hodges (#14), Tom Seaver (#41), Willie Mays (#24), Mike Piazza (#31), Keith Hernandez (#17) and Jerry Koosman (#36) will be joined by Gooden (#16) and Strawberry (#18).
All those names contributed, in one form or another, to the success of the franchise. All those names (except for Stengel) all played on pennant winners or World Series winners. Kranepool also contributed to the success of the franchise while he played on a Mets championship team and a second pennant winner.
The left hand hitting first-baseman was a part of every Mets team from their first year of 1962 (he debuted in late September as a 17-year old out of James Monroe High School in the Bronx) until he retired after the 1979 season, so his career mirrored the down years and the genesis of developing into a championship team.
Kranepool was one of two players who played on the inaugural team but also played on the 1969 World Series winning team (Pitcher Al Jackson was 8-20 for the ‘62 Mets but pitched 9 games for the ‘69 Mets before his contract was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds in June).
Here was a local teenage kid, the new kid in town, playing for what was the “new kid in town” because the Mets were a brand new team. It was a story made for New York.
Hodges, Seaver and Koosman rightfully get their due for the success in 1969 but Kranepool had some huge hits that season. Kranepool’s overall numbers don’t measure up to those other players, but his overall impact on the franchise was pretty significant.
The night before Seaver’s imperfect game in July, 1969, Kranepool had the ninth inning, walk off hit to beat the Chicago Cubs before over 55,000 fans as pennant fever was gripping Shea Stadium and New York City.
The first-baseman had been struggling coming into that game and despite hitting an earlier home run off of Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, a Hall of Famer, the fans were booing him when he got behind in the count, 1-2.
Kranepool shrugged off the boos and blooped a single over Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger into left field to score Cleon Jones with the winning run in what was a pivotal game that season. Kranepool would later label the hit one of the biggest of his career.
In his only start and appearance in the 1969 World Series, Kranepool (who platooned with right hand hitting Donn Clendenon during that post season) did something Mays never did and that’s hit a World Series home run. The left hand swinger smacked a solo shot in the eighth inning off of Baltimore Orioles’ reliever Dave Leonhard to cap off the scoring in a 5-0, game 3 win at Shea.
Jump ahead four seasons and the Mets are in a do or die showdown with the Reds in game five of the 1973 National League Championship Series at Shea. During the season, Kranepool was used as a pinch-hitter, while playing some first base and the outfield.
In the bottom of the first, Kranepool (who started in left field while Jones started in right field for the injured Rusty Staub) came up with the bases loaded and one out and lined a two run single to left to give Seaver and the Mets an early 2-0 lead. The hit provided some early momentum and the Mets rode that to a 7-2 win and the second National League pennant in franchise history.
Kranepool was not the first Met to wear #7 (he wore #21 in his first three seasons) and since he’s worn it such players as Hubie Brooks, Jose Reyes and, most recently, Marcus Stroman, have put on a Mets uniform with that single digit.
Wright, the greatest third baseman in Mets history, played his entire 14-year career in Queens. Kranepool played his entire 18-year career in a Mets uniform.
#5 will be up there, so should #7.