Mets To Retire Number of Team Legend Keith Hernandez


Hernandez will have his number retired at Citi Field this summer. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The New York Mets announced earlier this month that they would be retiring Keith Hernandez’s number 17 jersey during a game against the Marlins on July 9. Hernandez is not only one of the most accomplished players in franchise history, but also one of the most beloved. Although he spent less than half of his career in New York (only seven of his 17 total seasons), his impact was undeniable. Hernandez won the Golden Glove Award a record 11 times for a first baseman, five of those awards coming during his time with the Mets. Besides being an impressive fielder, he was also a clutch hitter for the team. In New York, he recorded 80 home runs and 468 RBIs, earning him a Silver Slugger award in 1984. Hernandez was also an integral part of the last Mets team to win a World Series in 1986. These impressive performances made him the first player to be named captain in Mets team history. 

Hernandez began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1974. After a falling out with the manager, Hernandez was traded to the Mets. He was famously  unhappy about coming to New York and joining a team which was perennially at the bottom of the NL East. However, the Mets had a lot of young talent and just needed a few more pieces to end their misery. Hernandez proved to be what they needed, leading them to a World Series victory in 1986. Although the Mets had mixed success in the years following, Hernandez cemented himself as a star on one of the most special (and infamous) teams in MLB history.

Historically, the Mets have reserved number retirements for players that have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Currently, only three other players have had their numbers retired by the team. Number 41 is retired for Tom Seaver, 31 is retired for Mike Piazza and 36 is retired for Jerry Koosman. Numbers 14 and 37 are also retired for managers Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel. Koosman was the first player to have his number retired by the Mets that was not also inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. It seems the organization is  stepping away from this tradition after deciding to also retire Hernandez’s number. It is possible we may see other great Mets players like David Wright or Darryl Strawberry have their numbers retired too, despite not yet reaching the Hall of Fame.

Although he retired from playing after the 1990 season, Hernandez is still actively involved with the Mets organization. Since 2006, he has worked as a broadcaster to provide color commentary for Mets games. He is joined in the booth by former teammate Ron Darling, who was a pitcher for the Mets when they won in ’86. Gary Cohen is the third member of the crew and provides the play-by-play calls. Cohen and Darling both shared messages of congratulations when news about the number retirement broke. The trio are widely regarded as one of the best broadcasting teams in sports. The trio has great chemistry and work well together, consistently providing an enjoyable listening experience. 

The positive impact of Steve Cohen is certainly being felt as he enters his second season as owner of the team. Besides honoring past players, he is also working to make the current team competitive. Several massive signings in the offseason, including star pitcher Max Scherzer, show that the Mets may be headed in the right direction. The retirement of Hernandez’s number is a great move by the team, and could not go to someone more deserving. His role in the 1986 championship run cannot be understated, and even post-retirement he has continually worked for the organization. Hernandez is an all-time Mets great, and hopefully he stays involved with the team for years to come.