The Mets Hall of Fame is a pretty exclusive club. More exclusive than you probably realize.
There are only 27 inductees in the Mets Hall, which has a physical display inside Citi Field in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The organization has inducted just eight individuals – six players, one manager, and one executive – since the turn of the century, and none since 2013.
As a refresher, here are those currently honored in the team’s Hall of Fame and the year of their induction:
Joan Payson (’81), Casey Stengel (’81), Gil Hodges (’82), George Weiss (’82), Johnny Murphy (’83), William Shea (’83), Ralph Kiner (’84), Bob Murphy (’84), Lindsey Nelson (’84), Bud Harrelson (’86), Rusty Staub (’86), Tom Seaver (’88), Jerry Koosman (’89), Ed Kranepool (’90), Cleon Jones (’91), Jerry Grote (’92), Tug McGraw (’93), Mookie Wilson (’96), Keith Hernandez (’97), Gary Carter (’01), Tommie Agee (’02), Frank Cashen (’10), Dwight Gooden (’10), Davey Johnson (’10), Darryl Strawberry (’10), John Franco (’12), Mike Piazza (’13).
Practically everyone has gotten on the franchise’s case for not honoring their history more, and justifiably so. But the Mets have made strides in that department of late, and it’s time for them to keep that momentum rolling. Here are the five candidates that deserve to be next:
This is a no-brainer, and the minute he decides he’s going to call it quits, the Mets should announce David Wright Day at Citi Field. Since he hasn’t seen a lot of action of late, maybe you’ve forgotten just how good the captain is. Let me remind you.
Prior to his injuries, Wright was on his way to Cooperstown. No that’s not hyperbole. Wright has the second-highest WAR in franchise history (49.9), behind only Tom Seaver. He was a 5.4 WAR player as recently as 2013. He has 1,777 career hits and 970 RBIs (franchise top marks), 242 home runs (10 behind Strawberry for the lead), and is a career .296/.376/.491 in 1,583 games.
In 2007, while the virtually the whole team imploded around him, Wright hit .352/.432/.602 with six homers and 20 RBI in the season’s final month. Had the Mets not choked up the division, he was has been the runaway choice for National League MVP, and considering his 8.3 WAR was third-best in baseball, he probably still should have been. If I have my way, and I think I will, number 5 will be hung at the top of the Promenade, too.
How is Fonzi not in the Mets Hall of Fame yet? His 29.5 WAR is seventh-best in team history, including three years of 6.0 WAR or better from 1997-2000. Alfonzo totaled 1,136 hits in 1,086 games in a Mets uniform, and was a driving force behind the Mets’ two deep postseason runs. He hit .444/.565/.611 in the 2000 NLCS, and could have easily been the series MVP had Mike Hampton not gone the distance in Game 5.
Alfonzo did everything the organization asked, which included shuffling positions – from third to second and back to third – twice, and played them all with incredible well (he was robbed of the 1999 Gold Glove at second base). He has coached inside the Mets organization at Single-A Brooklyn, and in 2017, managed the Cyclones. All the while, he has conducted himself with the utmost professionalism on and off the field. Ask any Met, Mike Piazza included, from those 1999-2000 teams who they’d want up in a big spot, and they’d answer Fonzi.
I don’t care if he gets named Yankees manager or not, the Mets need to honor Beltran and in a hurry. There’s a very strong case to be made that the recently-retired Beltran is the best position player to ever play for the Mets. He was worth 31.3 WAR during his tenure in Queens, good for sixth-best in team history, including an eye-popping 8.2 in 2006. Beltran’s 149 homers and 559 RBIs are also good for sixth on the Mets’ all-time list, and he hit three homers, drove in five runs, and slashed .278/.422/.556 in his lone postseason with the Mets, Game 7 be damned.
He’s going to be a Hall of Famer, and may very well be enshrined with a Mets cap, but the team shouldn’t wait that long to honor him. Beltran played up to his contract and more. And if you’re a Mets fan who’s still angry about the Wainwright strike out and you can’t see past that, I feel badly that you choose to overlook an all-time great we got the privilege of watching play up close for the better part of seven seasons. Put him in.
Leiter’s divorce from the Mets was a little checkered. Leiter has some resentment toward the organization because of the way Omar Minaya moved on from him after the 2004 season, he was largely blamed from clubhouse meddling in front office affairs (such as the Scott Kazmir deal), and has since found a home calling Yankees games on YES. But that doesn’t change what Leiter did in his seven seasons with the Mets.
After arriving in a trade after the first of many Marlins fire sales, Leiter instantly changed the culture around the team by giving them an ace they could match up against anyone. His ’98 season was his best in Queens: 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Leiter went on to finish 28 games over .500 (95-67) in orange-and-blue, which included one of the best pitching performances in franchise history: a two-hit shutout of the Cincinnati Reds in a 1999 Wild Card tiebreaker at Riverfront Stadium. Plus, no one will soon forget the Herculean 8.2 inning effort he put forth in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series. Hey, what is it with really good, yet unsuccessful pitching performances at home in Game 5 of the World Series…
Reyes’ 27.8 Mets WAR is good for ninth-best in team history. He owns the franchise record for triples (110) and stolen bases (403), and his 1,491 Mets hits trail only Wright. He led the Majors in stolen bases three times, all with the Mets (2005-2007), and won the 2011 NL batting title (.337).
At his best, there may never have been a more exciting player to watch in a Mets uniform than La Melaza. And even as his career winds down and his defense has become an issue, Reyes is still an above average offensive player, as he has posted 3.3 oWAR in 205 games since returning to Flushing. He may be back for another season with the Mets, and he may not. We won’t know for sure into the offseason plays itself out a little further. But what we do know is Reyes certainly belongs to be in the team’s Hall when he decides to hang ‘em up.
What would the Mets organization be without these two guys? Together, they compromise one of, if not the best, collections of broadcasting talent in Major League baseball.
I can sling around every superlative I can think of about these guys and their work, but I think the best compliment I can give them is that their talent speaks for itself. Both have their own unique style, but enjoy beautiful symmetry in the way they can dip into the deep reserves of their memories as fans to recall Mets’ seasons of the past. They also happen to be two of the guys on the committee that help make the decisions on who to put into the Mets Hall, so someone else in the room: Nominate them and insist. They deserve it, and there’s precedent to induct active broadcasters, as the original booth was inducted far before they called it quits.
Full disclosure: Howie’s daughter Alyssa writes for this site.