The Mets Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the coolest things in Citi Field. Located in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, it honors the Mets’ past and brings back nostalgic memories for fans.
The Mets have done a great job honoring their two World Champion teams from 1969 and 1986, with both teams being well-represented. But the more recent teams have been mostly ignored, especially the late-90’s, early-2000s Mets that played in the World Series, whose players have all retired. Even the 2006 Division Champion Mets, have some players that warrant consideration, and have retired.
From these teams, only John Franco and Mike Piazza have received this honor. But they aren’t the only deserving guys. The Mets didn’t elect anyone last year, and haven’t announced anything this year.
So, while their cross-town rival Yankees are retiring the number of just about every player in franchise history, the Mets have lacked to even include some of their best players in team history in the team Hall of Fame. To be fair, they still have time to elect these guys. I mean, it took them almost twenty years to induct Doc Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry. But, still, these are the guys I feel deserve this honor.
*Note: I will not be listing players currently still playing. So, while David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran all very much deserve this honor, they will not be listed.
Edgardo Alfonzo, 2b/3b
Ah, Fonzie. Edgardo Alfonzo has to be one of the single, most underrated players in team history, if not the most underrated. This is the guy that hit third in a lineup that included Mike Piazza. He was a possible Gold Glove contender at third base, but moved to second when the Mets brought in Robin Ventura.
Yet, he continued to play Gold Glove caliber defense. But enough about his defense, this guy could HIT, as any fan who saw him play could testify to. How he only won one Silver Slugger(1999) and only made one All Star Team(2000) is beyond me. In 2000. he hit .324 with 176 hits , 25 Home Runs, and 94 RBIs. The year before, he hit only .304 but had 191 hits, 27 Home Runs, and 108 RBIs. The year he didn’t make the All-Star team is somehow better than the year he did. Simply put, Fonzie was one of the best hitters in the late 90’s and early 2000s. Do the Mets make the playoffs in ’99 and the World Series in ’00 without him? Not a chance.
This guy was simply awesome. He’s one of the best players in team history. Luckily, the signs are pointing to his induction. He is a coach with the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets short season low-A affiliate, and was present at Mike Piazza’s induction. Alfonzo has my vote, and he should have the Mets’ as well.
Al Leiter, LHP
Simply put, Al Leiter was the Mets ace in the late 90’s and early 2000s. Forget guys like Mike Hampton. Leiter was the guy. And he was the guy for a while, coming to New York by way of a Marlins fire sale in 1998, and leaving after 2004. Leiter was always one of the good guys, a guy that fans and front office people were proud to have on their team. Mike Piazza has talked about how much Leiter helped him adjust to New York, when he first got traded to the Mets.
Leiter, like just about everybody on the 2001 Mets, was a big help in the recovery mission after 9/11. But guys aren’t elected to the team Hall of Fame, based on being a good guy. Leiter was a heck of a pitcher and was an All-Star in 2000. In 1998, his first year in New York, he had 2.47 ERA with 174 strikeouts and 17 wins. That’s a pretty awesome year.
He would have 16 wins in 2000 with a 3.20 ERA and 200 strikeouts. He was always a leader on the Mets, in both the clubhouse and in the community. Another guy that the Mets wouldn’t have gone far without. Even now, as he works for MLB Network and calls games for the Yankees, Leiter speaks only good things about the Mets. He deserves this honor as much as anyone.
Bobby Valentine, Manager
Bobby Valentine is one of the top managers in team history. Forget his most recent stint in Boston. That disaster has nothing to do with his great tenure in New York. Bobby’s teams went to the playoffs twice, went to one World Series, and were regular playoff contenders. Simply put, he was the Mets most successful manager since Davey Johnson and Gil Hodges.
Where his antics and character got him in trouble in Boston, they cemented his legacy with the Mets. Who could forget the time that, after being ejected from a game, he snuck back into the dugout wearing a fake mustache and t-shirt. A manager’s job is not to only manage the game, but to manage the clubhouse and the community. He always kept the mood light and was always popular.
When he was eventually fired, the decision was not a popular one. Mike Piazza spoke highly of Valentine in his book, and confirmed the unpopularity of his firing. But maybe most notable from Valentine’s tenure is his efforts after 9/11. He was a huge help, along with the rest of the team, in doing relief work at Shea Stadium. He even recieved the Branch Rickey Award in 2002, for his efforts. Simply put, Bobby Valentine was, and always will be, one of the greatest managers in team history. Can anybody name a reason for him not to be elected?
Carlos Delgado, 1b
This is a tricky case, only because Delgado was in a Mets uniform for a short time. He arrived in 2006, and left after barely playing in 2009. But for those three years, Delgado was an animal . In the 2006 NL East Champion season Delgado hit 38 home runs with 114 RBIs, sandwiched in the lineup between Carlos Beltran and David Wright. He continued his great tenure in 2007 and 2008. I’m sure Mets fans remember the game where he drove in 9 runs against the Yankees in 2008.
He even finished in the Top 10 in MVP balloting in 2008, after he hit 38 Home Runs and 115 RBIs. That’s even better than his 2006 season. Simply, Delgado was a monster at the plate. I personally think he deserves this honor. Because, without him, the Mets aren’t one of the best teams in baseball for three years.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to Johan Santana. He, without a doubt, deserves to be on this list. But, I don’t know how to classify him. He’s not retired but not on a team. So, I do strongly believe he should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, but I don’t know how to classify him right now.
The Mets Hall of Fame is a great way of recognizing fan favorites and great players. But, the team has been slacking recently. They need to step up and honor more of the recent stars to wear the Orange and Blue. These four would be a great start. Most of these guys in the team Hall of Fame may not be going to Cooperstown, but they deserve to stay in Flushing.