No other member of the New York Mets will ever wear number 17 again. Keith Hernandez will have his number retired this year, adding his name to a short list of Mets players who have been given this honor. He’ll join Hall of Famers Mike Piazza and Tom Seaver along with franchise legend Jerry Koosman, a guy who didn’t get his number 36 hung from the rafters until last year following a delay that was originally scheduled in 2020.
Since the Hernandez announcement, many have wondered who is next for the Mets. It’s a given David Wright’s number 5 goes up. Aside from him, there’s a debate to make.
Carlos Beltran, the franchise’s best center fielder of all time, is one of those guys. Although he didn’t spend as long of a time with the franchise as some others who have yet to get their number retired, many do think his number 15 is deserving.
It should be—but only under one condition.
Carlos Beltran should have his number 15 retired by the Mets only if he goes into Cooperstown representing the team
Beltran already has a complicated Hall of Fame case. He’s right there on the fringe of being a lock but with fewer than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, he is shy in two of baseball’s biggest offensive categories.
Fortunately, his case goes much deeper than that. He helped his teams with speed and Gold Glove defense. Beltran did it all while playing most of his career in center field, one of the game’s toughest defensive places to patrol.
If not for his association with the 2017 Houston Astros and alleged close connection to the sign-stealing scandal, Beltran would probably get in rather easily. Unfortunately for him, some voters may make him wait.
The Mets already faced consequences for Beltran’s role in the sign-stealing scandal. Hired to be their manager for the 2020 season, they fired him before he even stepped into the dugout for a game. It was a debatable move. Many heads were rolling at the time. Rather than suffer through means out of their control, the organization decided to move on.
Beltran’s reputation has been an otherwise good one. Time will help heal any wounds. Many involved in the scandal, including A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora, are managing again. Beltran will probably eventually get his opportunity, too. But what does this have to do with the digits on the back of a jersey?
The Mets were careful about whose number they retired. It was an honor bestowed upon only the most elite players in franchise history. If you weren’t in the Hall of Fame representing the team from Queens, your number might get worn again.
This changed with Koosman. There’s a double shot of it with Hernandez. Both Mets legends, neither are in the Hall of Fame. What happens if Beltran gets in?
Beltran’s big league career took him to a couple of places but it’s with the Mets he played the most. His 839 games with the club tops what he did with the Kansas City Royals at the beginning of his career. His numbers in New York are also superior. So unless he wears a cap with a couple of logos on it, the Mets are the logical choice.
It would be impossible for the Mets to not retire number 15 if all goes well with Beltran and he ends up enshrined with the NYM on his plaque.
Since leaving the team in mid-2011, the jersey number has been handed out several times. Little time was wasted giving it to Val Pascucci at the end of 2011. Several others have worn it after including Cameron Maybin during his short stint with the team in 2021. It’s a number many Mets fans may remember Jerry Grote wearing many decades before as well.
Jersey retirements should be a sacred moment in sports. The team won’t have to make a decision if Beltran does end up in Cooperstown. The decision will be made for them.