There are two words to explain why I became a New York Mets fan: David Wright.
Since his Major League debut on July 21, 2004, David Wright had been a cornerstone of New York Mets baseball for more than a decade before his playing career came to a premature end during the 2018 season because of back, neck and shoulder injuries.
For the last two injury-ridden seasons of his amazin’ career, there is no denying the indelible mark that Wright made on this team, the fan base, and most of all, me after being the face of this franchise for the last fourteen years.
The date: June 9, 2009. The opponent: Philadelphia Phillies. The pitcher: J.A. Happ. The moment: David Wright takes the lefty deep to left field in the bottom of the second to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead in what would ultimately end in a 6-5 Mets victory.
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If I close my eyes, I can still recall arriving at the stadium two hours before the scheduled 7:10pm first pitch. For hours my family and I walked around the stadium, finding the best spot to watch Mets batting practice and then Johan Santana’s bullpen session before he took the mound later that night. Wright’s home run was even more exciting, as it was hit only one section to the right of our seats.
It was my very first game at Citi Field during the ballpark’s inaugural season and around the time when my interest in the sport was beginning to grow into something much more addictive. Ascending the main escalator, I remember seeing the enlarged Topps baseball cards displaying the Mets lineup for that evening. For as long as I could remember, Wright was the Mets number three hitter in addition to their best all-around player; a true generational talent manning the hot corner.
From then on it was a snowball effect. My interest in the Mets and baseball coincided with the prime of David Wright’s career, making him my initial draw toward this team. Rooting for David Wright’s success soon turned into me rooting for Mets success.
I’ll never forget how excited I was receiving my very own David Wright New York Mets jersey. I wore number 5 for my basketball and baseball teams throughout middle school. For me, it was not just the fact that Wright was a great ball player; he was also a great man – one that respected the game and never once disrespected his teammates or his uniform with any off the field controversies. He just came to work and played his heart out every game for the fans and the organization.
During his fourteen-year career, Wright’s 5-tool abilities catapulted him to seven all-star teams, two Gold Glove Awards, and the top of several franchise leaderboards in addition to being named just the fourth Captain in franchise history. It is therefore fitting that the former Captain now serves as a special advisor to COO Jeff Wilpon and General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen in the front office, allowing him to continue to participate in the game he loves in a new capacity.
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Although injuries have prevented him from adding to his all-time stats, and will most likely keep him from being enshrined in Cooperstown, I think I speak for most fans when I say that Wright has earned the love, respect, and admiration from a fan base that was fortunate enough to watch his career. Wright was the real-life Mr. Met and will forever be a memorable part of Major League Baseball and baseball in Flushing.