The New York Mets announced on Wednesday night that they will retire the No. 17 jersey of franchise-great first baseman Keith Hernandez before the team’s July 9 game against the Florida Marlins.
“I’m thrilled,” Hernandez said. “This is truly a special honor that lasts beyond a lifetime. I can’t thank Steve and Alex Cohen and the Mets Hall of Fame Committee enough. I was very emotional when Steve called to let me know about the number retirement.
“This is the highest honor an organization can bestow upon a player. I also want to thank Mets fans, who have treated me like family since I arrived in 1983.”
After his acquisition from the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1983 season, Hernandez helped change the perception of the lowly Mets into a team to be reckoned with in the National League — helping to change the culture that surmounted to a World Series title in 1986.
In his six-plus years with the Mets, Hernandez ranks second in team history in batting average (.297) and earned six Gold Glove Awards with the team, the most in franchise history.
“Keith was the first captain in team history and a great leader and catalyst on that ’86 championship team,” Mets owner Steve Cohen said. “He was a defensive wizard at first and was a clutch performer late in games. We made a promise to continue celebrating and honoring our tremendous history and this is another deserving step in that direction. Congratulations, Keith.”
Following his playing days, Hernandez was elected into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1997 and two years later, he joined the team’s television booth as an analyst — a position he still holds today on SNY alongside Gary Cohen and Ron Darling.
Hernandez will become the fourth player to have his number retired by the Mets organization, joining Tom Seaver (41), Mike Piazza (31), and Jerry Koosman (#36). The Mets have also retired No. 14 for 1969 World Series-winning manager Gil Hodges, No. 37 for the team’s inaugural manager in Casey Stengel, and No. 42 across baseball for Jackie Robinson.