2011 marks the fiftieth year of Mets baseball starting with the 1961 expansion draft led to the first pick of Hobie Landrith, which then sparked manager Casey Stengels’ response to the press’s question as to why the team had chosen Landrith first “without a catcher there would be a lot of passed balls”. I am convinced that if the Mets had selected Elio Chacon first instead of second, Casey would have said ‘without a second baseman there would be a lot of ball hit up the middle into centerfield’. I was no longer the baseball version of Phillip Nolan; I was now a fan with a team. Fifty years represents over 8000 games played, probably well over 2000 players who dressed in a Mets locker room, 20 managers, 4 World Series appearances, and 3 home stadiums.
It also represents sadly only 3 numbers retired, 1 player in the Hall of Fame and only 1 player who spent a full career in a Mets uniform. We have on the team today a player who could possibly fill all three of these sad statistics upon his retirement perhaps 10 years from now in the person of Jose Reyes. It will be a while before we will know how this turns out. What we can do and should do is to honor with a retired number some of those who have worn the uniform. The Mets do have a Mets Hall of Fame which now numbers 25; it is a respectful measure to some of the contributors to the team from William Shea and Joan Payson at the very beginning to Ralph Kiner who still does an inning or so 20 or so times a season. That is not the same commitment as a retired number which implies that no person will ever honor this number as much as you have. It is an honor that MLB awarded to Jackie Robinson, our neighbors in NY have retired 15 numbers representing 16 players, and the Mets list is three including two managers.