From my seat behind home plate just below the broadcast booth on a perfect Memorial Day weekend evening, Gary Carter's widow, Sandy, and their son DJ (who so resembles his Hall of Fame father both in looks and shiny disposition), walked towards the Citi Field infield from center field. The Mets were honoring members of their last world championship team, the 1986 Mets, and as raucous cheers filled the stadium as each was introduced and walked down what had to be the Guinness World Record's longest red carpet, no response was as loud or as emotional as that given for Sandy and DJ.
The 1986 Mets, long marginalized by the organization by being limited to minor league and baseline coaching positions--and kept from positions of authority in the big league club's dugout and front office--were given the royal treatment by ownership on this particular weekend. They were put up at a posh, Madison Avenue hotel, thrown a dinner party in their honor, and permitted to bring family members along to share in the experience of their 30th anniversary celebration of their World Series championship at Citi Field.
But one thing was missing that would not only have been appropriate, but also would have brought perfection to the weekend celebration.
In a summer when the Mets will retire the number of Mike Piazza, who enters the HOF in July, it was beyond me how the club's only Hall of Famer from that storied '86 team who helped bring the Mets a long-awaited World Series title that Piazza never could, didn't have his Number 8 retired. How perfect would that have been, with Sandy and DJ on the field (and Gary's two daughter's and families in a luxury suite), to receive word from the golden voice of the MC Howie Rose that the Mets were retiring Carter's number?
Now for those of you that read my drivel in this blog, you know my position on retiring numbers--I think it's been grossly overdone by clubs and used as a way to sell tickets. But if any Met ever deserved the honor, especially in the setting of the 30th anniversary of the '86 season, it was their co-captain, Gary Carter.
And while they were at it, they could have done the same for Keith Hernandez, who had as much to do with the resurrection of a moribund franchise than any of the '86 Mets. You could also make a case for Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson, or Jesse Orosco, but those arguments are for another blog.
But on this evening, how fitting would it have been to have added another catcher aside from Piazza to the rafters of retired numbers at Citi Field.
A missed opportunity for sure.