Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
To date, the Mets have retired only one of their own player’s number, Tom Seaver’s No. 41; the other two, Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges, were managers.
It’s this reason that I feel, eventually, the Mets will retire Mike Piazza’s No. 31. The last day of Shea Stadium, despite Keith Hernandez and other notable hitters being in the house, the team put Piazza center stage with Seaver. It was Mike and Tom, shoulder to shoulder, walking together like the closing scene of a Western, through the gated doors in the outfield wall. It was very poignant. To me, this was the team’s greatest pitcher of all time, and the man they clearly see as their greatest hitter of all time.
Pound for pound, moment for moment, match up for match up, there is no denying that Piazza was in incredibly and dangerous hitter. In totality, in terms of accumulate statistics, over time, he struggles to match up. Darryl Strawberry often ranks better than Piazza in most team categories and David Wright will likely end up being this franchise’s greatest hitter ever. But, despite missing so much times as a catcher, Piazza’s legacy is strong; especially in the eyes of the Mets, who will induct him in to their Hall of Fame this Sunday.
I actually like that the Mets have so few numbers retired. It makes it rare and special when that honor is eventually given to someone new.
The way I understand it, having talked with team insiders, the team’s go-to panel of voters (which is comprised of executives, ownership and broadcasters) will remain stingy when it comes to retiring numbers. They’re not opposed to doing it, but it’s tall mountain for one number to get over.
That said, I do think it’s good to have at least one player on that wall from every notable era, if for no other reason than it’s a visual reminder of our lives at that time. I can sit in the stands with my daughters and when asked about “41,” I can tell them about Seaver and what he meant to this franchise. It’d be nice to get the opportunity with other important players and eras in team history. It doesn’t have to be dozens, like the Yankees, who seem to retire a new number every day. But, more than one player would be nice…