The New York Mets have been lax when it comes to honoring their great players. Unlike the crosstown Yankees, the Mets don’t have a Monument Park jam-packed with plaques of players and other notable persons in the open for the world to ogle.
The Mets do have a Hall of Fame, though, located in the lobby of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. That’s the issue, though. Mets owner Fred Wilpon grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and is only now beginning to embrace the heritage of the team he actually owns.
The Mets have only retired four uniform numbers in their 58 seasons of existence and two of them were managers (#37 for Casey Stengel and #14 for Gil Hodges). The other two are Hall of Famers Tom Seaver (41) and Mike Piazza (31).
In 2020, the Mets will be retiring Jerry Koosman’s No. 36. it has been a long time coming for one of the team’s greatest players and pitcher who won two games in the seminal 1969 World Series – including the Game 5 clincher – that put the franchise on the map.
Koosman is the winningest left-handed pitcher in Mets history (140 wins) and ranks second in team history in starts (346), complete games (108), innings (2,544.2) and shutouts (26), third in strikeouts (1,799) and sixth in ERA (3.09).
“The excitement of playing for the Mets when we won the 1969 World Series was an experience I never thought I’d be able to repeat,” Koosman said in a press release from the team when he learned of the news in September. “But the news that the Mets Hall of Fame Committee has voted to retire my number is another life-changing thrill and honor…
“I’m enormously proud of the time I played in the orange and blue uniform of the Mets. It was privilege to play alongside some of the most wonderful and talented teammates for more than 11 years and to hone my craft under Gil Hodges. This honor isn’t only for me and my family, it’s for the legions of fans I grew to love. To know that my number will be retired and sit alongside other team legends is one of the greatest tributes I could ever be granted. I was always proud to be a Met. Today, I am even prouder.”
Koosman is just one player the Mets needed to recognize. Ed Kranepool, who played a franchise-high 1,853 games over 18 seasons for the Mets including two World Series, is another player who should be honored. David Wright will surely have his No. 5 retired.
Other players who might get some consideration are Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, John Franco, Bud Harrelson, Jose Reyes, Mookie Wilson, Jerry Grote and Cleon Jones. But tell them not to sit by the phone waiting.