Mets Keith Hernandez
Syndication: Westchester County Journal News

What took so long?

The New York Mets have had a sorted history at first base. But a strong case can easily be made that no player has played the position better than Keith Hernandez.

Now, finally, the Mets will recognize his importance to the organization by retiring his number.

According to Baseball Reference, only five players have accumulated more WAR with the Mets than Hernandez: David Wright, Darryl Strawberry, Carlos Beltran, Edgardo Alfonso and Jose Reyes. But that doesn’t tell the story of Hernandez’s impact on the Mets.

After a falling out with Whitey Herzog in St. Louis, the Mets acquired Hernandez for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey in June of 1983. That trade would change the trajectory of the Mets in the mid-1980s.


In 1987, after helping the Mets win the World Series in 1986, manager Davey Johnson named Hernandez the first team captain in franchise history.

He won a Gold Glove in his first six seasons with the Mets, which wasn’t a surprise. He was the best defensive first baseman of the 1980s and solidified the Mets infield immediately. He also represented the Mets in three All-Star Games.

Of course, we all came to learn that he was also a Civil War buff who loves the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld.

Hernandez has become a fixture in the SNY booth during Mets broadcasts. He hasn’t sugar-coated much about the team’s performance on the field or the individual players on the roster over the years.

This day is long overdue. We’re thrilled that the Mets are finally honoring what Hernandez meant on the field.

 

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.