The Mets announced on Thursday that John Franco will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
“John set a very high standard during his career both on and off the field,” Jeff Wilpon said in an email. “It’s great that during our 50th anniversary season we can have John – a true New Yorker in every sense – inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.”
Franco was a Met for 14 seasons — only Ed Kranepool served more time in Flushing. He is the team’s all-time saves leader with 276. Overall he had 424 saves, fourth in baseball history.
“Growing up rooting for the Mets, it’s an honor, and very special for a kid from Brooklyn,” Franco said.
Photo courtesy Mets Twitter feed
The honor is a long time coming. Franco retired after the 2005 season following an ill-fated stint with the Astros.
Although fans had a love-hate relationship with him, he was still a favorite and it shouldn’t have taken seven years for this to happen.
You could even make the argument that Franco’s 45 (he switched from 31 to 45 when Mike Piazza joined the team) should be retired; that is, if the Mets had any interest in retiring numbers. The fact that the team has retired just one player number (Tom Seaver) in 50 years in an embarrassment.
As I have written in the past, the Mets appear to be following the lead of such teams as the Red Sox, Orioles Phillies and Pirates which only retire the uniforms of players who make it to the Hall of Fame wearing one of their hats. That’s fine if you have a history of such players, but obviously the Mets don’t.
The Mets shouldn’t go the way of the Astros and retire every half-decent player (Mike Scott, really?). But there has to be some kind of middle ground where important franchise players like Franco and Keith Hernandez could have their numbers retired.
And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the Mets should retire Willie Mays’s 24. Yes, he was washed-up by the time he got to the Mets, but still, one of the greatest players of all time wore your uniform; that deserves to be honored. Hell, Jackie Robinson has an entire rotunda in his honor and he had absolutely nothing to do with the Mets. Perhaps if Mays played for the Brooklyn Dodgers instead of the New York Giants…
In any case, Franco’s ceremony will be on June 3. It should be a nice moment.
If you are curious who picks the players for the Mets Hall of Fame, here is the list:
— Dave Howard, VP
— Jay Horowitz, PR guy
— Tina Mannix, Marketing Director, daughter of private detective
— Al Jackson, pitching consultant
— Marty Noble, cranky beat writer
— Gary Cohen, broadcaster
— Howie Rose, broadcaster