Last night Matt Cerrone from Metsblog.com asked fans if they thought the news about Gary Carter's health should influence the Mets to retire his number. The answers were mixed, but it seemed to me like the vast majority of the answers all pointed to yes.
Here was Matt's response via Metsblog:
"The way I see it, the Mets should definitely use this summer – the 50th anniversary of the team – to honor Carter’s place in their history, just like they will probably do for other prominent players as well. However, if the team had no intention of retiring his No. 8 before today’s news (based solely on his talent) than they should definitely not retire his number now (based on his cancer).
I loved Carter as a player when I was growing up. He made the game fun for me as a fan. Today’s news should simply provide motivation for the team to act sooner than later. However, his charm, popularity, stats and accomplishments from yesterday should if his number his retired … not because he’s sick today."
I 100% agree with Matt on this one. I feel like the Mets should have retired his number long before his diagnosis. Gary was a huge part of the teams success and played a major role in the 86 WS. He could have been the last out in game 6, handing Boston the series ending win, instead he started the legendary comeback. He brought an energy to the Mets and their fan base that is hard to match.
According to the website Mets By The Numbers #8 hasn't been worn since 2002, by Matt Galante, a coach. No one of major importance to the Mets success (no offense to them) has worn #8 since Gary. It seems like in a way it's already retired although not hung on the outfield wall.
These days you see #5 and instantly think of David Wright. Most fans see #16 and think Doc Gooden NOT Angel Pagan, he just borrowed it for a bit. #18 is and always will belong to Strawberry NOT Art Howe. And of course we all know that whenever someone gets issued #17 Hernandez finds a way to let you know he wore it better from the broadcast booth on SNY.
#31 is a gray area since Franco also donned it, but Piazza won over this town. If no other moment that home run on 9/21 solidified Mikes mark on sports history. #31 belongs to Piazza and nobody has worn it since.
It's hard to say who should be retired, but to me all of these guys (among others) strike a cord with today's fan base. We have a connection with these players and it makes sense to take them out of the rotation.
Years from now new fans should see #8 on the wall and ask "Dad/Mom, who's # is that?" The fans need to know the history and roots behind this team instead of seeing Matt Galante or Cookie Rojas on the field wearing #8 like it's any old number. It's not... and I'd love to eventually pass along the story of Gary "Kid" Carter to my son or daughter.
There's 90+ other numbers for guys to wear. At the very least RETIRE #8!