Mets Failure To Honor Their History Went Well Beyond Seaver Statue
With Tom Seaver being diagnosed with dementia, there is a renewed call for the Mets to honor their history and to build a Seaver statue outside Citi Field. For Mets fans and for other teams, this is something which should not be up for a debate. After all, when other teams built their new stadiums, they incorporated statutes of their great players around their ballpark. Even older stadiums are incorporating statues.
This is part of honoring a team’s past. This is something which seems obvious, but it never occurred to the Mets when they build Citi Field.
Looking at the original construct of Citi Field, the seats were green, and the outfield walls were black. The Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium was tucked away. The Mets Hall of Fame was nowhere to be seen. Really, the only trace of the team’s history was the retired numbers and pennants on what was then known as “The Great Wall of Flushing.”
To be fair to the Mets, it may have been an honest oversight. Moreover, it could have been the result of public pressure altering plans. Due to a number of circumstances, there was a push to name Citi Field after Jackie Robinson. For example, George Vecsey wrote an article about it in the New York Times. He would be far from the only one.
Really, this was a pressure the Mets had faced since 1997. Whether it was in response to the pressure or whether it was always part of the plans, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda was born in a ballpark which was meant to invoke memories of the old Ebbets Field. Certainly, that left plenty of room for the detractors before anyone ever stepped foot inside the stadium.
While the perception the Mets had no intention to honor their history may not have been fair, the team gave it credence when the Mets overreacted to Dwight Gooden signed a wall in what was then dubbed the “Ebbets Field Club.” Initially, the Mets planned to erase the signature. As reportedby the New York Daily News, the Mets heard the backlash, and they were going to listen to their fans:
PR honcho Jay Horwitz said the wall will be removed from the club, preserved behind Plexiglass and moved to an undisclosed area at Citi Field that is more accessible to all fans. He added that the Mets plan to procure similar autographs from other popular ex-Mets such as Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and Mookie Wilson and display them around the concourse.
It has almost been a decade since this incident transpired. Honestly, has anyone seen a wall with autographs from all the great Mets players? Is it hiding in some suite most fans don’t have access? Is it in the executive offices no one sees? Is it tucked in a corner somewhere in an area no one regularly passes during games?
Perhaps one good location for the wall would be the Mets Hall of Fame. The Mets Hall of Fame is a whole other matter all together.
You could point out one of the reasons why the Mets Hall of Fame may not be all you want it to be is due to limited space. Of course, that is a problem which arises when you don’t make provisions for one in your original plans for the ballpark. It’s also a problem when the team sells important memorabilia like the jersey Mike Piazza wore when he hit his post 9/11 home run.
Of course, this shouldn’t surprise anyone was the team store really spills into the Mets Hall of Fame. While you’re crowding to see the original Mr. Met costume, you can go through the racks of game worn wear and other merchandise which has spilled on over from the main team store.
But it’s not just the lack of statues, or the inaccessible and probably nonexistent wall, or even a ill-executed Hall of Fame. Just look at what happened to the retired numbers and pennants.
The once prominently displayed retired numbers on the left field wall now hang high above the left field Promenade above the foul pole. The pennants have also been removed from the left field wall. They now reside on the facade hanging above the field level in left field. Now, this may not seem like all that much. After all, most teams do not have their retired numbers and pennants on full display on their outfield walls, but for the Mets, this is a clear break in tradition with no real reason for it.
In the end, that’s the biggest problem. There’s no real reason for any of this. The Mets are a franchise which is now 57 years old. They have have had two players inducted into the Hall of Fame. They have won two World Series and been to three others. They have played in some of the most classic games in Major League history, and their status as an expansion team has forever ingrained them in the fabric of the game.
And yet, when you walk around their ballpark, with or without a Seaver statue, you’d have no idea that was the case.