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NY Mets: Return to black uniforms is a time to recall good memories

New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza (2nd R) is congratulated by teammates Edgardo Alfonso (L) and Derek Bell (R) after he drove the two men in with a three-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning that put the Mets ahead 11-8 against the Atlanta Braves 30 June 2000 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY. The Mets scored 10 runs in the inning tieing a team record as they came from behind to beat the Braves 11-8.(ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL / AFP) (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza (2nd R) is congratulated by teammates Edgardo Alfonso (L) and Derek Bell (R) after he drove the two men in with a three-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning that put the Mets ahead 11-8 against the Atlanta Braves 30 June 2000 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY. The Mets scored 10 runs in the inning tieing a team record as they came from behind to beat the Braves 11-8.(ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL / AFP) (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
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For the first time in over nine seasons, the New York Mets will be bringing back their popular black home jerseys when they take the field this Friday July 30th against the Cincinnati Reds. It will be the first time since July of 2012 that the Mets will don their distinct and fashionably eye catching dark attire. New owner, Steve Cohen, made good in his preseason promise to bring back the uniforms as per popular fan demand and it seems now that every Friday home game at Citifield from July 30th on will see this Mets ball club sporting their sleek looking dark threads (five home games in total).

Many outsiders as well as Mets fans who are excited about the return of the jerseys may be asking themselves, why are we making such a big deal about them though? I mean it’s just a piece of cloth, right?

Well…not really.

From 1991 till 1997 the Mets weren’t exactly lighting the National League east on fire. They were mostly finishing third place or worse for that seven year period and much of the success we had as a franchise from the mid to late 80’s was starting to wane away from fans’ memories at the time. It also didn’t help that things weren’t looking so stable for us going forward as we had four managerial changes in that same time span. Things were starting to look a little bleak and uncertain.

The New York Mets will bring back their beloved black home jerseys for the first time in almost a decade this July 30th at Citifield versus the Cincinnati Reds.

But in 1998, the black uniforms made their debut for the first time as our new alternate jerseys. This happened to be around the same time period that many of our young homegrown farm system players were coming up to play with the major league squad and were actually contributing substantially.

It seemed that the Mets were done with having to deal with the signings of over the hill super stars who didn’t contribute much throughout the early and mid ’90’s. Now was time for a new change. Also, we weren’t bringing up minor league players that were much hyped but eventually amounted to nothing like we were the seven seasons prior.

Now we had guys like Edgardo Alfonso, Rey Ordonez, Jay Payton and Bobby Jones to lead our ball club along with savvy veteran stars that our new General Manager Steve Phillips and our part owner Nelson Doubleday Jr. skillfully brought in to make our roster competitive. Those two hit on nearly every free agent star that they signed to the Mets from 1997 to 2001 – bringing in the likes of Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, John Olerud, Robin Ventura and Turk Wendell.

No longer were the Amazins considered just a slightly below average to somewhat average ball club, but now they quickly elevated to World Series title contenders as they made the National League Championship series in 1999 and got all the way to the franchise’s fourth ever World Series against the Yankees in 2000.

Oh and the winning didn’t stop there.

We also had one of our most successful regular seasons in franchise history in 2006, going 97-65 and finishing the whole season in first place in our division while sporting those black jerseys. Similar to 1998, we had a combination of good young farm system talent guys like Jose Reyes and David Wright along with big free agent signings like Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado leading our team to the National League Championship series that season.

It’s safe to say that many memorable moments were left in our heads by those Mets teams that were wearing the beloved black uniforms during that time. I mean, who can forget former manager Bobby Valentine getting kicked out of a home game versus the Blue Jays only to sneak back into the dugout and manage wearing a silly fake mustache and eyeglasses back in 1999? Or David Wright hitting his first home run as a Met against the Montreal Expos in July of 2004?

Also the famous Robin Ventura walk-off grand slam single to force a game 6 in the 1999 NLCS as well as the final out made in the game versus the Florida Marlins where the Mets clinched the 2006 NL East pennant.  There are just so many fond memories symbolizing the grit, character and/or success that embody the Mets franchise during that time period.

So, to summarize, you are darn right that bringing back the black uniforms this coming Friday night is a big deal. Many Mets fans currently in their late college years to their mid 30’s and beyond can fondly remember those colorful seasons where the Mets overachieved while donning those jerseys. We have a bond with those uniforms as they are part of our childhood and young adulthood nostalgia that can never be forgotten or taken away from us.

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Let’s only hope going forward, the uniforms will be here to stay for many seasons to come, and maybe, just maybe, this time they’ll have a World Series trophy memory to go with them.

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