Richie Ashburn Probably the most beloved man in Philadelphia sports history, Ashburn starred for a dozen seasons as the Phillies’ center fielder. Just before starting a broadcast career that would last the rest of his life, he hit .306 for the hapless expansion Mets of 1962. Ashburn was awarded a 24-foot boat as the team’s most valuable player. After the season, he docked it in Ocean City, N.J. — and it sank.
Yogi Berra Fired as the Yankees’ manager after losing a seven-game World Series to St. Louis in 1964, Berra joined the Mets as a player-coach for Casey Stengel. After playing 2,116 games for the Yankees, Berra, then 39, appeared in four games for the Mets and went 2 for 9. He later managed the Mets to their 1973 National League pennant. The Mets should retire the No. 8 for him and Gary Carter.
Gary Carter In 1992, when Carter was back with the Expos for his final season, I asked what he had been thinking in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series as he walked to the plate with two outs, the bases empty and the Mets trailing Boston by two runs. This is what he said: “The biggest thing that was going through my mind is that I reflected back upon my days in the alleyway dreaming about this. You always think World Series, bottom of the ninth, two outs, that kind of stuff. And then, I felt an extreme presence and I knew that our good Lord was with us. I felt like when I went up to the plate, I was not going to make the last out. I prayed from the time I left the on-deck circle to the time I got in the box.” Carter singled to start the most famous rally in World Series history, then caught the final strikeout in Game 7.
Tom Glavine After using the title “None but the Braves” for his 1996 memoir, Glavine added a second team to his career record when the Mets signed him for four years and $42.5 million in December 2002. He stayed five seasons in Flushing, losing his last start as a division title slipped away. Generally, though, Glavine was solid for the Mets, winning 63 games, including two in the playoffs, and earning his 300th career victory in 2007.
Rickey Henderson Already 40 when he joined the Mets in 1999, Henderson had a .416 on-base percentage for the team — incredibly, even better than his career .401 mark. But his brief stay ended in such acrimony that Henderson was the only player for the 2000 N.L. champions who was not given a ring by the team; he was cut that May and got $1.8 million in termination pay.
Pedro Martinez Two years after snagging Glavine in free agency, the Mets signed another star away from the team he would represent in Cooperstown. Lured from Boston by a four-year, $53 million contract, Martinez gave instant credibility to a sagging franchise. Let’s remember him joyously prancing amid the wayward sprinklers that interrupted a game in his scintillating 2005 season — and not for the three injury-marred years that followed.
Willie Mays People use the image of Mays falling down in the outfield in the 1973 World Series against Oakland as an example of a once-great athlete hanging on too long. Less remembered is his final career hit: a go-ahead single off Rollie Fingers in the 12th inning of the Mets’ victory in Game 2.
Eddie Murray The Mets signed Murray, a switch-hitting, slugging first baseman, for two years and $7.5 million before the 1992 season. In a productive but forgettable interlude in a marvelous career, Murray drove in 193 runs — and the Mets lost 193 games.
Nolan Ryan The majors’ strikeout king was on the mound when the Mets earned a trip to the 1969 World Series, working the final seven innings of the National League Championship Series clincher against Atlanta. Then he saved Game 3 of the World Series against Baltimore, the first of three consecutive victories at Shea Stadium as the Mets took their first title. In December 1971, the Mets traded Ryan to the Angels for Jim Fregosi — and you know the rest.
Duke Snider The Duke of Flatbush returned to New York in 1963 after the Los Angeles Dodgers sold the former Brooklyn star to the Mets. Snider got his 2,000th hit and 400th home run as a Met; at the time, only six others had reached both figures. He hit .243 with 14 homers and 45 R.B.I. as a Met, then retired after a final season with the San Francisco Giants.
Warren Spahn No left-hander had more victories than Spahn, with 363, but just four of them were for the Mets. After spending 20 seasons with the Braves, Spahn began his final year, 1965, by going 4-12 for the Mets. His manager was the same man he had played for as a rookie in 1942, prompting Spahn to say, “I’m the only guy to play for Casey Stengel before and after he was a genius.”
Casey Stengel The only number you will never see on the back of a New York major leaguer: 37, which the Yankees and the Mets both retired for Stengel. (All players wear No. 42 for one day in April to honor Jackie Robinson.) After winning 10 pennants and seven championships for the Yankees, Stengel guided the Mets from 1962 to 1965, with a record of 175-404.
Joe Torre He finished his playing career and started his managing career with the 1977 Mets, and those tenures briefly overlapped. Torre twice inserted himself as a pinch-hitter, drawing an intentional walk the first time and then, in his final at-bat, flying out to right field off Houston’s Floyd Bannister.
George Weiss The general manager for seven Yankees championship teams, Weiss was the first president of the Mets. “No other man, not even Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb, had more profound and lasting influence on the game,” Red Smith wrote in The Times after Weiss’s death. “None ever built as George Weiss built.” Weiss retired in 1966, and three years later, the Mets he had started to build won their first World Series.
The On Baseball column on Friday, about 15 former Mets players in the Baseball Hall of Fame who are better known for their work elsewhere, misstated, in some copies, the number of runs batted in that Duke Snider had as a Met. He had 45, not 43.
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