When I was a young kid, one of the first things I noticed in Shea Stadium were the four numbers on display in left field. In order, they were 37, 14, 41, 42. I remember asking my father what those numbers meant, and learning that they were “retired numbers” was something that surprised me. My young mind thought, “Wow, those must have been the four best Mets players in history!”
Of course, I could not have been more wrong. Of all four of those numbers, Tom Seaver’s 41 is the only one representing a great Mets player. The other three are obviously, Jackie Robinson’s 42, as well as first Mets manager Casey Stengel’s 37, and ’69 Miracle Mets manager Gil Hodges’s 14.
It is an absolute disgrace that only one Mets player has had his number retired. Here are three numbers that the Mets need to retire as soon as possible.
17 – Keith Hernandez
Keith Hernandez was not just the best first baseman the Mets ever had – he was the best defensive first baseman of all time. Hernandez had a vacuum of a glove – winning the gold glove every year from 1978 – 1988. In addition to that, Hernandez was an extremely clutch hitter, hitting a career .296/.384/.436.
But, perhaps the most important reason why the Mets need to retire number 17 is because he was the team’s first captain. Even though he was officially dubbed in 1987, he was the leader of the Mets team in their amazing 1986 season. Hernandez was one of the most important Mets players in history, and his number absolutely needs to be retired.
8 – Gary Carter
Do I even need to justify why The Kid’s number needs to be retired? Gary Carter was the final piece that ensured the Mets winning the World Series in 1986. Winning five Gold Gloves behind the plate while with the Amazin’s, Carter’s defense helped the team tremendously. Of course, Carter’s bat also contributed to the success of the team.
Just as with Keith Hernandez, Carter’s number needs to be retired mostly because of his leadership status. In 1988 Carter became co-captain with Hernandez, showing just how important his voice was to the team. Gary Carter’s premature death in 2012 depressed all Mets fans, and it is time that the Mets give Carter’s family the recognition that he truly deserves.
31- Mike Piazza
While Gary Carter had one of the best gloves behind the plate, Mike Piazza had THE best bat behind the plate. Coming to the Mets in 1998, Piazza dazzled fans with his hitting and won them over with his personality. Piazza always had a way of exciting fans, including helping the team to the World Series in 2000.
In the first game following the September 11 attacks, Piazza hit a home-run that will forever send a chill up every Mets fan’s spine. He is a hero to New York City, and he deserves to have his number retired. Hopefully, the only reason he has not had the honor yet is because the Mets are waiting for him to make the Hall of Fame first.
While there are probably other players who also deserve the recognition of getting their number retired at Citi Field, Hernandez, Carter, and Piazza clearly are first in line.