Unlike their cross town rivals, the New York Mets are very selective about retiring their numbers. Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza are the only two players in franchise history to have their numbers retired, but that figure is set to up by one next year. Jerry Koosman, a key member of the 1969 World Series champions, will have his number 36 retired in 2020, according to team COO Jeff Wilpon.
This is a long overdue move for a true Mets’ legend. Koosman spent 12 years as a member of the Mets, debuting in 1967 and pitching with them through the 1978 season. During his time with the Mets, Koosman went 140-137 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and struck out 1,799 batters in 2,544.2 innings pitched. Wilpon revealed that the decision to retire Koosman’s number came at the recommendation of the Hall of Fame, and he also indicated that the Mets will be loosening their number retirement policy.
This is great news for Mets’ fans, who have often complained that the team doesn’t do enough to honor its history. The fact that a franchise that has been around for almost 60 years had just two retired numbers for its own players (Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel were managers while 42 is universally retired for Jackie Robinson) was a bit silly. It will be interesting to see how the Mets plan to play “catch up” and who else will get their number retired.
David Wright would be a natural fit since he played his whole career with the Mets, and that could happen shortly after Koosman. The Mets will probably also look to retire numbers from a player or two on the 1986 World Series champions, with Keith Hernandez’s 17 a logical choice given his lengthy association with the organization. 17 has not been issued by the Mets since 2010, when Fernando Tatis wore it. The Mets also haven’t issued Gary Carter’s #8 since 2002, so it would be another good candidate for retirement.
One interesting note is that the move to retire Koosman’s number affects current manager Mickey Callaway, who was wearing 36. Callaway has switched to 26 effective immediately, but it remains to be seen if he will be around to wear 26 again in 2020/