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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Steve Cohen receives hero treatment on Mets Old Timers’ Day

Not being a Wilpon and having a first-place team buys you a lot of good will. 

Old Timers Day appears to have been a bit hit. One announcement made me scratch my head, though. Willie Mays’ number 24 will be retired. Now Willie was a great, great player but he was finished by the time he got to the Mets. Should fame alone warrant such a team honor?

jimfurtado Posted: August 28, 2022 at 09:46 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, ownership

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   1. The Duke Posted: August 28, 2022 at 12:17 PM (#6093501)
The story I read was that the Mets owner at the time promised to retire his number for his years in NY early
In his career but she died before she could do it and the new ownership reneged or didn't honor her promise so Cohen is making good on it
   2. JJ1986 Posted: August 28, 2022 at 12:28 PM (#6093502)
Mays was a star in New York and the Giants are not a New York team anymore.
   3. KronicFatigue Posted: August 28, 2022 at 03:49 PM (#6093513)
#1 - That's the story that they spoke about while actually retiring it during the ceremony.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 28, 2022 at 04:05 PM (#6093516)
Old Timers Day appears to have been a bit hit. One announcement made me scratch my head, though. Willie Mays’ number 24 will be retired. Now Willie was a great, great player but he was finished by the time he got to the Mets. Should fame alone warrant such a team honor?

Mays was a star in New York and the Giants are not a New York team anymore.

The Brewers did the same with Hank, who was in virtually the same situation (came back to finish his career in the city where he once played).

The Mets probably would have done the same with Mays much earlier but Wilpon was only aware that one NL team formerly played in NY.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: August 28, 2022 at 04:19 PM (#6093518)
I was there, will have much more later.

Mets announcer Howie Rose screwed the pooch by getting the whole thing backwards. he should have said immediately that while Willie (at 91 and ailing) of course couldn't be there, he would be watching and here I will read the text of his message of love for Mets fans and how they treated him.

instead, there was a low buzz of hopes for, well, a Miracle and here comes Willie in a wheelchair and the crowd goes will (a la Ted Williams at Fenway ASG, albeit a more modest version of that). so the uniform number announcement felt anti-climactic, after fans feverishly looked to field level to see any hint of something Amazing going on.

from 1958-1961, NYC went from 2 NL teams to zero. that stung at the time, and so the Mets' colors are blue for the Dodgers and orange for the Giants. a number of washed-up Dodgers/Giants players appeared for the Mets in the first few years.

the argument could be that the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field is homage to the Dodgers - so let's look forward to the Mays Trapezoid next year for NY Giants fans!

anyway, the gesture was well-received. and the Mets didn't milk it for all it's worth by having a separate Willie Mays Day promotion like certain other franchises are wont to do. it wasn't even announced beforehand as part of the festivities.

as for "washed up," Willie had a 145 OPS+ in 242 PA after he arrived in mid-1972. not up to his career standard of 155, sure. But it was the best on the Mets, and only Rusty Staub 137 came within a mile of it.
   6. Tom and Shivs couples counselor Posted: August 28, 2022 at 04:24 PM (#6093519)
Mays earned everything he gets
   7. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 28, 2022 at 04:30 PM (#6093522)
The Brewers did the same with Hank, who was in virtually the same situation (came back to finish his career in the city where he once played).
Well, they didn’t wait almost 50 years to retire Aaron’s number. That aspect makes it a bit different, but I suppose ‘better late than never’ may be applicable here.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: August 28, 2022 at 04:40 PM (#6093524)
Well, they didn’t wait almost 50 years to retire Aaron’s number. That aspect makes it a bit different, but I suppose ‘better late than never’ may be applicable here.

I'm not really seeing why that makes any difference, particularly as it relates to Jim's objection.
   9. Tom and Shivs couples counselor Posted: August 28, 2022 at 05:31 PM (#6093530)
Willie Mays was one if not 'the' most famous player in New York for almost a decade and is a legit baseball legend. Think it's super weird to object his number being retired by a NY National League team that he played for at one point in his amazing career
   10. Tin Angel Posted: August 28, 2022 at 06:48 PM (#6093540)
Seems fine to me though they probably should have waited until John Franco had his retired.
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: August 28, 2022 at 07:12 PM (#6093542)
OTD thoughts:

I was wondering if they would introduce the 60 players reflecting all 60 Mets seasons in chronological order - or reverse. turned out to be kind of haphazard. I knew White Frank Thomas - 34 HR in 1962 - and his teammates would be anywhere from about 83 to 95 years old. but my father turned 92 and was fit as a fiddle - no wheelchair, no walker, no cane, and no way anybody over 50 could keep up with his walking pace. looked maybe 70 years old, and a good 70 at that.

well, this was my reality check on what old age actually looks like. I think they wandered with the 1960s Mets early - because introducing them and then these geezers maybe feeling as if they had to roll or limp a little quicker to keep things going would have been too much pressure. so sometimes two old guys would be helped to their places as a third was being introduced.

but this fully lost the touted "60 Mets, 60 seasons" theme - if they didn't have a guy from 1974, no way anyone would notice.

some odd inclusions like Josh Thole and Doug Sisk, while Dave Magadan - in the ballpark as Rockies first base coach - got snubbed. oh well. Joe Torre? horrible Mets hitter, unsuccessful Mets manager. crowd tactfully kind of went mum on that one.

the 2000 pennant winning players got a reaction that surprised me but shouldn't have, I suppose. everyone remembers 2015, but the only other pennants are 2000, 1986, 1973, and 1969.

so if you're in your 30s or 40s, that plucky 2000 team has special resonance.

OTG itself went 3 innings - clearly an inning too long. I kind of thought it was 5-4 when they walked off the field with 2 outs, but apparently Piazza and Zeile batted for both teams so maybe it was 8-1 and... who cares.

first batter popped to Kevin Elster (age 58) - and we have our first face-plant. my seatmate knows a gal who is one of his lady friends in CA. let's just say he is living the beach life.

Valentine showed up, as expected, with his signature "disguise" he once used after getting ejected from a game. good sport, there. Randolph - not always appreciated BITD - got a nice hand.

Steve Dillon, who got into 3 games in 1963-64 and turns 80 next spring, plausibly pitched to 3 batters in the game and seemed to be having the time of his life.

Strawberry looked great - not a surprise - and Gooden looked fine - what a relief, and he even faced a few batters in the game. Pedro got a big hand and got a kick out of it. he said he talked to deGrom and Schzerzer and said that "I left some unfinished business here" and he wants them to finish the job. cool.

disappointed that they didn't have Trachsel enter with a man on, and then throw over to first base 15 times for old time's sake.

also missed: a reunion of Torre and 2B Felix Millan (who looks great) reviving that game when Millan singled 4 times and Torre erased him on 4 DPS. and Robin Ventura there - so why not Nolan Ryan as a surprise guest and they go WWE and replay their famous brawl? or have Mike Hampton's kids on the field with copies of their college degrees only made possible by those awesome Denver public schools? better still, bring back ex-Met Beltran and the blind 3B ump from a decade ago (Santana was there yesterday). Beltran hits another fair ball down the line - but this time the ump makes the correct call.

Steve Henderson turns 70 in November, but he was at least mid-level quality in the OTG at bat and in the field. Endy Chavez scooped up everything in CF per usual. Mookie had 2 doubles and 3 RBI and made a nice running catch in LF. MVP for sure.

Orosco, at 65, looks like he could pitch another 10 years in relief in MLB.

ex-C John Stearns, at 71, was touch-and-go to attend after prostate cancer and a broken hip. looks alarmingly gaunt, but it seems like he spent the last 6 months fighting to make it. he went out to help as 1B coach in one half-inning and seemed thrilled about it.

the camaraderie was remarkable - like a large family that finally gets all the cousins together (I have 32 first cousins not counting those who no doubt have passed away). bonds are formed, and you feel like a part of something bigger.

props to legendary PR guy Jay Horwitz, now retired but who planned the whole thing. a number of players said he wouldn't take no for an answer, and whenever he got teammates aboard, he'd call the other one and convince them they had to come.


NY Post:

Old-Timers’ Day was more than just a chance to reconnect with former teammates and friends for Ray Knight.

It was a day of healing for the MVP of the 1986 World Series, a rare return to Queens and possibly the end of a contentious relationship between Knight and the Mets.

“It’s a special thing for me to be here and feel like maybe I’m back part of this organization because [Steve] Cohen came in and spoke to me today. I hadn’t spoken to Jeff Wilpon in 30 years, period,” he said Saturday. “Never was invited back, except for the 30-year [World Series reunion]. I was never invited to throw out the first pitch, none of that stuff. And that hurts because you give everything you have and you expect somebody to give a little something back, and that’s what this organization is doing now.”

"You're sitting in there, and it's almost like you're a little boy again."

Knight, 69, revisited his departure from the Mets following the 1986 season. It was right before the parade and then-general manager Frank Cashen called him into his office. Cashen made him an offer, a paltry one-year contract with a $5,000 raise. Knight was insulted and left the Mets for the Orioles.

“I didn’t even enjoy the parade. It just never went away, the hurt never went away, because it never changed,” Knight said. “I felt like here we are, such a close-knit unit and each person pulling strong and hard, and we were a collection of a bunch of pieces that fit together in the clubhouse. A lot of talent, but the right blend, and that makes such a difference. They tore the heart out of that ballclub when they let me go and they let [Kevin] Mitchell go because we were two guys who made a difference in that clubhouse. [Howard Johnson] was a better player than me, no doubt about it. It wasn’t HoJo. It was the other people who came in who didn’t have that same intensity [NARRATOR: Kevin McReynolds enters the room].”

His feelings toward the organization didn’t change much over the years, and it obviously didn’t help that the Wilpons never attempted to rebuild the relationship.

“It hurts to this day,” Knight said, referring to leaving the team he helped win a World Series. “I love the New York Mets, I don’t like the Wilpons, I don’t like any of that deal.”

   12. asinwreck Posted: August 29, 2022 at 07:58 AM (#6093569)
Steve Henderson was having an absolute ball out there. Dillon's pitching appearance was probably the highlight of the action (with the Mays number retirement being the nicest touch), but all in all, a terrific celebration of Mets' history.

Everything about the event turned the page on the Wilpon era. Done as the team on the field was in first place in their division, and fans of teams with....less responsive ownership watched in envy.*

*Jerry Reinsdorf's version of Old-Timers' Day is foisting his 77-year-old friend on his players and watching them underachieve.
   13. . . . . . . Posted: August 29, 2022 at 10:05 AM (#6093579)
the thing about Steinbrenner is that he was a legitimate maniac, but he understood how to maximize the value of a ballclub better than any owner of his generation. ALWAYS have an OTD, treat former players with respect and keep them around the organization, even if only for one weekend in mid summer and the first few days of camp. Invest in the onfield product, its more important to build enterprise value than generate cash flow. Ballpark experience is paramount, and its not necessarily about making it family friendly but making it feel fun and exciting to be there and meaningfully different than watching on TV.

None of this is that revelatory but its amazing how many organizations #### it up. The Mets (under Cohen) and the Yankees get it right, the Red Sox get it right, and thats why baseball is still the premier spectator sport in the Northeast.
   14. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: August 29, 2022 at 11:38 AM (#6093591)
The Mets probably would have done the same with Mays much earlier but Wilpon was only aware that one NL team formerly played in NY.
Cute but, what probably pissed off fans the most about the new ballpark (other than the club's inability to score runs, of course) was the original color of the outfield wall being painted jet black with orange numbers.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: August 29, 2022 at 11:56 AM (#6093592)
well, if someone was blindfolded until they arrived at Citi Field on the first Opening Day, they would have assumed that the Brooklyn Dodgers played there - not the Mets.

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is impressive, but there was little to no evidence of the existence of the Mets (that has since been rectified over the years, peaking with the unveiling of a statue of Tom Seaver). Fred Wilpon grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and went to school with Sandy Koufax, and this was one owner who wanted to make everything about himself. not as much "fans be damned" as not even thinking about fans.

Jeff Wilpon had hoped to make the right field upper deck overhang like old Tiger Stadium, where he attended games with his grandfather. the navel-gazing runs deep in that family, alas.
   16. Lassus Posted: August 29, 2022 at 03:37 PM (#6093622)
ALWAYS have an OTD, treat former players with respect

Winfield, Berra, etc.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: August 29, 2022 at 03:46 PM (#6093625)
before George's time, of course, but:

"Enos “Country” Slaughter replaced Phil Rizzuto on the New York Yankees’ roster on Aug. 25, 1956.

The move was announced on Old Timers’ Day, and effectively ended the career of the second greatest shortstop in Yankees’ history.

The Yankees needed help, which they hoped Slaughter could provide, but they were insensitive with respect to the timing of Rizzuto’s release.

Phil often talked about the unusual circumstances.

General manager “Lonesome” George Weiss invited Phil to meet with the front office to discuss the World Series roster, assuming the Yankees would win the pennant.

Weiss gave Phil a list of players and asked him which ones might be released to make room for Slaughter. Whenever Phil mentioned a player, Weiss explained why the Yankees needed that player.

Rizzuto was no dummy. He quickly realized that he was being released.

The usually calm Rizzuto was livid, but he was also sensible."
   18. The Duke Posted: August 29, 2022 at 04:18 PM (#6093629)
17. That's a great story
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 29, 2022 at 05:58 PM (#6093637)
Not sure what the point is of #17 - claiming Rizzuto was treated poorly? Phil was 38, had a .541 OPS/47 OPS+, and had only appeared in 31 games by the end of August 1956, since he was largely replaced by Gil McDougald (.848 OPS/127 OPS+). The Yankees also had two other players, Billy Hunter & Jerry Lumpe who could fill-in at SS. Maybe the effort to let Phil down gently didn’t go as planned, but it was time, and the Yankees then gave Rizzuto a 40-year gig as a broadcaster. Not too shabby.
   20. Buck Coats Posted: August 29, 2022 at 07:27 PM (#6093641)
Winfield, Berra, etc.

Ah, but Winfield was a current player when he was being mistreated!
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: August 29, 2022 at 08:14 PM (#6093642)
Rizzuto was halfway down the rabbit hole when he walked into the meeting, lol
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 29, 2022 at 09:27 PM (#6093656)
Rizzuto's first job as a broadcaster was actually with the Giants, not the Yankees. He also submitted an audition tape to the Orioles before the Yankees came to their senses and hired him.

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