The New York Mets may want to get a little more superstitious and realize the number 44 carries some bad luck with it.
Unfortunately, many who have picked the double-four haven’t been very lucky.
Worse than that, many joined the Mets with a ton of potential. This made their poor performance look so much worse when things didn’t work.
In the 1980s, Ron Darling and David Cone each wore number 44 at some point. Howard Johnson wore it for part of the 1991 season when he put together one of his best seasons. All seemed well with this number. Ever since it has been a disaster.
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There are several minor Mets who have worn the digits over the last nearly 30 years. Most numbers have those irrelevant numbers associated with it.
The first notable player to take it on for a lengthy period of time was Jason Isringhausen. As a rookie in 1995, the “next ace” in New York took on a number many successful Mets pitchers had worn before him. Isringhausen suffered plenty of injuries in his time with the organization, pitching poorly when he was able to stay healthy. He last wore number 44 in 1999.
Isringhausen’s final year with the Mets was also the beginning of the Jay Payton era. While Payton did debut in 1998, it was in 1999 when he took on the number 44 curse.
Payton had a terrific rookie season for the 2000 Mets. It looked like he might live up to the lofty expectations as a future star. The 2001 season wasn’t nearly as productive. In mid-2002, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies with several other players for what equates to an inconsequential package. Payton did have a good MLB career but never reached the level many believed he would.
A year after Payton, the Mets brought in another Jay. This time, it was Jay Bell. The veteran infielder hit only .181 in his year with the Amazins. To be fair, expectations weren’t very high.
Mike Cameron was the next to wear number 44. He played poorly in his first season but began to turn things around in his second. The curse had already taken its toll early on as Cameron missed the entire first month of the season.
In a mid-August game, Cameron collided with outfielder Carlos Beltran. The injury that followed ended Cameron’s season and tenure with the Mets.
Apparently, the message wasn’t clear about this number. Noted prospect Lastings Milledge made his MLB debut in 2006 with the number 44 on his back. Milledge played okay in his two years with the team. Locker room and other off-the-field issues led to a trade after the 2007 season. Even after leaving the Mets, the curse remained as Milledge never became a regular in anybody’s MLB lineup.
Perhaps its biggest victim of all, the number 44 claimed one of the worst free agent signings in Mets history. This is the number worn by outfielder Jason Bay.
Bay joined the Mets in 2010 after several awesome seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox. He never made it through the whole contract as injuries and poor play led to an early release. Bay is possibly the biggest free agent bust in team history, possibly in all of Major League Baseball.
Others have suffered similar fates to these main role players mentioned. AJ Ramos, who has worn the number most recently, pitched terribly during his time with the Mets and even suffered a season-ending injury in 2018. Eric O’Flaherty pitched in only 8.2 innings for the team and earned a 13.50 ERA during the time he spent in Flushing.
The organization may want to take a break from handing out this number. The last season nobody wore it was in 1998. Technically, it belonged to Isringhausen at the time. He didn’t pitch a single inning all year.
Before that, you have to go back to 1986 to find a year when the Mets didn’t have a number 44. Do you believe in coincidences?
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Cursed or not, you have to admit, the number 44 has been unkind to this organization.