Whether or not there’s baseball at Citi Field in 2020, the New York Mets need to move forward with retiring Jerry Koosman’s number 36.
When the New York Mets announced the 2020 season would include the retirement of Jerry Koosman’s number 36, there was some debate as to whether or not the best lefty starter in franchise history deserved it. The Mets have been careful about which numbers they retire. Heading into 2020, the only two players in franchise history who have been bestowed with the honor are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza.
Naturally, it seemed David Wright would be the next to have his number retired. It’s unusual for a team to go back as far as they are with Koosman. The 77-year-old hasn’t played a game for them since 1978 and retired a year before the 1986 Mets wowed us.
Whether you think Koosman deserves it or not, I don’t think there should be a debate that the Mets need to keep to their word. Regardless of what happens with the schedule in 2020, the organization needs to put the number 36 right between 31 and 41 where it already falls mathematically.
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Not to sound grim, but Koosman is an older gentleman. It would be tragic if Koosman never got to see his number officially retired.
June 13 is the scheduled date when the club was set to retire the number. However, there’s a good chance plenty of promotions are rescheduled or canceled entirely. Koosman’s number retirement isn’t one of them.
Even if the Mets have to hang number 36 without Koosman present at Citi Field, I think it’s a necessary gesture they must move forward with. We already learned about Seaver’s ailing health. Things like that can change in a moment’s notice which makes it even more imperative to not delay.
Koosman’s career in New York included 140 wins, a 3.09 ERA, and years of providing them with the best number two starter a team could ask for. Sometimes forgotten nationally because of how historically great Seaver was, Koosman had a fine enough career of his own to warrant a jersey retirement.
One surprising note about the number 36 in team history is how willingly the team has handed it out. Only one year after Koosman left, Wayne Twitchell and Ray Burris each wore the number. Many others wore it in the time since with Sean Gilmartin last putting it on the back of his jersey in 2017.
Since Koosman last wore the number, 29 other Mets have.
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The Mets are doing the right thing by honoring Koosman with a jersey retirement. Decades late, it’s a tribute that cannot be pushed aside for any reason.