Baseball is a game of numbers. Not just RBI and ERA, or wins and losses, but numbers related to players and uniforms. In fact, there are Mets uniform numbers that everyone knows by heart. But did you know who had that number before or after your favorite Met?
My first favorite player was Cleon Jones, who just turned 70 over the weekend. Cleon wore number 21 and after he retired, I didn’t want to see anyone else wear that number. But many have worn it, including Kevin Elster, Bill Pulsipher, Carlos Delgado and currently Lucas Duda.
David Wright is my current favorite Met, No. 5 on your scorecard. I remember when Ed Charles wore number 5 while also playing at third base. I didn’t realize until I did the research for this article that Davey Johnson also wore No. 5 when he managed and forgot that John Olerud donned a No. 5 as well. The way David Wright is going, he may be the last player to wear that number for the Mets.
Of course, everyone associates number 41 with the Franchise, George Thomas Seaver. He was of course the last one to wear that number, but four Mets before him wore #41 including pitcher Clem Labine as an original Met.
There have been Mets that have worn number 0 (Terry McDaniel and Rey Ordonez) and number 99 (Turk Wendell) and every number in between. Every fan has their favorites and most of us can just tell who is up just by the number on their back. You don’t need the name spelled out; you just know.
This year especially, every Met fan has a certain number on their minds – number 8 for Gary Carter. We lost him way too soon and the patch that the Mets wear every day with the number 8 and Kid on it make us smile in remembering a real Mets fan favorite and Hall of Famer. But even number 8 was worn by other Mets: Carlos Baerga, Desi Relaford and of course, Yogi Berra when he was our manager.
We are also thinking about number 50 for our 50th anniversary this year. Mets who have worn #50 include Benny Agbayani, Duaner Sanchez and Sean Green.
Why do these uniform numbers mean so much to us and to the players? Is it superstition? Probably. I’m sure that everyone remembers that first uniform number that you wore – mine was number 5 and I always wore #5 after that in any sport that I participated in. Is that why I like David Wright? No, but since I was a third baseman, I have always been partial to players at third.
If you are even an average baseball fan, certain numbers are just common knowledge – #24 for Mays, #21 Clemente, #3 Ruth and #4 Gehrig and #41 for Seaver. Will the Mets have any great players that will be added to that list? It’s hard to think of Mets players in the same category as these greats mentioned above, but you never know.
By the way, in doing the research for this story, I used a great website – Mets By the Numbers. Take a look and have some fun remembering Mets from the past who wore the numbers that you love. And the next time your favorite Met comes up to bat, take a look at the history of that number and the history that your current player is making now.