(Corey Sipkin/NY Post)
For years, the New York Mets played in the shadows of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. From the day that Citi Field broke ground on March 29th, 2009, the Mets' brand new ballpark was a shrine to Fred Wilpon's beloved Brooklyn ball club. Still heartbroken even 52 years after the Dodgers relocation to Los Angeles, Fred Wilpon did everything he could to make sure that anytime he ventured into the office, he could feel like he was a young boy again, walking back into Ebbets Field to watch the likes of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges and many more take the field. Even Citi Field's exterior façade is an almost spitting image of the old Ebbets Field.
Now, don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Mets paying homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. After all, if it weren't for those two teams departing for Golden Coast and leaving New York City without National League baseball, we wouldn't have our beloved Mets. While there is nothing wrong with recognizing New York baseball history, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
And much like everything else as their time during the majority owner of the Mets, the Wilpon's did it the wrong way.
In their never ending effort to make sure the people of New York never forgot about the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Wilpon family effectively neglected the history of the current NL New York City baseball club. After all, as of 2022, the Mets have been in New York for 60 years, and have a lease with the city that will keep the Mets in New York until at least 2049. By the time the year 2049 rolls around, I will be 52 years old, and the Mets will have been in New York for 87 years, which will tower over the 75 that the Giants spent in Manhattan and the 68 years that the Dodgers spent in Brooklyn.
Now, to summarize my long winded paragraph above, by this point in time, and going into the future, the Mets have been and will be a more integral part of New York baseball history than the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers were/ever will be.
On August 27th, 2022, Steve Cohen -- who has done almost everything correctly in his few short years as the Mets owner -- got one more thing right. He is finally recognizing Mets history, something that for so long, was neglected, swept under the rug, and shielded from the eyes of Mets fans and the City of New York by the old regime.
Cohen brought in the Avengers of Mets baseball. From World Champions like Darryl Strawberry and Cleon Jones, to Hall of Famers like Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez, and Joe Torre, to record holders like John Franco, to fan favorites that will forever live in Mets lore like Benny Agbayani and Robin Ventura, anyone who ever meant anything to the Mets, whether their contribution be big or small, were at Mets Old Timers' Day at Citi Field. Even 79-year old Steve Dillon, who pitched the first night game at Shea Stadium, was in attendance, and he pitched! Dillon only played two years in Major League Baseball and put up abysmal numbers, but even though he was a part of Mets history, Steve Cohen and his amazing front office brought him in to pay their respects. That's simply, Amazin'
Players, past and present, have been doing nothing but praising Cohen's efforts after yesterday's festivities. And in perhaps the day's biggest surprise twist, the New York Mets retired Willie Mays' number 24, not only in honor of Mays himself, but in memory of former owner, Joan Whitney Payson, who told Mays that he would be the last Met to ever wear number 24. Sadly, Payson passed away soon after Willie Mays' 1974 retirement, and her wish was never honored until 2022. With Mays' former Mets teammates nearby, number 24 was raised to the ceiling of Citi Field, forever immortalized.
Yesterday was chock full of highlights, warm moments, and trips down memory lane. From members of the original 1962 Mets, to the 1969 Miracle Mets, to the 1986 "Bad Guys" Mets, and even those who didn't quite make it to the promised land like members of the 1973, 2000, and 2015 National League Pennant winners, there were moments to enjoy for every Mets fan of any era. Hopefully this will be a tradition for years to come. The current New York Mets honored those who came before them in the best way possible, with a 3-0 shutout of the Colorado Rockies in front of a sold out Citi Field crowd.
Finally, Mets fans can be proud to celebrate the history of our team, instead of shamed and constantly having the Brooklyn Dodgers shoved down our throats.