Counting down to Shea finale by unis
A wide range of players donned Nos. 24 through 30
NEW YORK -- The games-to-go countdown sign on the outfield wall at Shea Stadium has created a lot of attention this season, especially for fans who associate uniform numbers with club history.
Twenty-nine home games remain on the Mets' schedule, so No. 30 will be visible before their game against the Padres tonight. Linking uniform numbers to the countdown for the seven-game homestand:
No. 30: Cliff Floyd was one of the most delightful people ever to call the Mets clubhouse home. ... Both Mets pitchers and opposing pitchers liked throwing to Alberto Castillo, whose nickname, "Bambino," was not inspired by any likeness to The Babe. He was a good guy. ... Nolan Ryan wore No. 30 in Flushing. ... I enjoyed Aaron Sele.
But no No. 30 in Mets history had the impact of Mel Stottlemyre. Just ask Doc, Darling, Coney, Sid, Bobby O., Roger, Aggy, et al.
No. 29: A mostly nondescript number in the game otherwise -- apologies to Catfish Hunter and Rod Carew -- 29 has been kind to the Mets. No legitimate reason exists to lament the trade that imported Rusty Staub in April 1972, but the Mets did pay dearly for Le Grande Orange, dealing Ken Singleton (No. 29), Tim Foli and Mike Jorgenson for Staub. All three had extensive big league careers, none the equal of Singleton's. ... Dave Magadan did No. 29 proud, though he had his best Mets season in 1990, after he deferred to Frank Viola, giving him No. 29 and taking No. 10. ... Steve Bieser was No. 29 when he prompted David Cone to balk in the third Interleague game, against the Yankees, in 1997. ... Masato Yoshii tried to learn English -- that was appreciated -- and was a good guy. ... Steve Trachsel's last game for the Mets (in the 2006 National League Championship Series) was inconsistent with his other work with them. ... Tom Gorman was a good guy and a true catalyst for the Mets offense (see his 1984 season).
But it's Hank Webb who deserves the Mets No. 29. His errant pickoff throw allowed Bake McBride to score from first base in the 25th inning of the Mets' Sept. 11, 1974, game against the Cardinals at Shea.
No. 28: Darren Reed was the foremost Spring Training slugger, and the late Bill Robinson created the "Low 2" to compete with the high-five, but the Mets' foremost No. 28 is Bobby Jones. He's the other right-hander from Fresno who happened to pitch the greatest game in franchise history -- the one-hitter against the Giants in Game 4 of the 2000 NL Division Series.
No. 27: Todd Zeile could fill a reporter's notebook in 15 minutes for 10 straight days. He had seen so much and had wonderful insights. No Mets player appreciated the city more than Zeile. If the ball he hit in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series had cleared the wall -- or if Timo Perez had run properly -- who knows? ... Dennis Cook was 146 percent Texan. ... If not for Craig Swan, this No. 27 would go Young for his 27 consecutive losses (1992-93). But Swannie wore 27 for 12 seasons, led the league in ERA in 1978 (2.43), had the best laugh this side of Jose Reyes and Al Jackson, and once was lifted off the ground -- by one hand -- by Frank Howard. Who can top that?
No. 26: Vinegar Bend Mizell. Anyone with a nickname like that deserves a nod. ... Bruce Boisclair was a perpetually happy man who could hit a little. ... Mike Bruhert was Gil Hodges' son-in-law. ... Dave Kingman hit a lot of home runs as the Mets' No. 26. ... Terry Leach threw from down here, pitched a 10-inning one-hitter in 1982, produced an 11-1 record (in 1987) and was one of the true gentlemen in the game. ... What would have become of Jae Seo if he hadn't needed Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery?
But Rico Brogna is my No. 26. A most pleasant man, pretty good bat, great glove. And his first name was perfect for Shea chants.
No. 25: Until Mike Cameron and Endy Chavez played center field at Shea Stadium, no one played it as well as Del Unser, the Mets' No. 25 in 1975 and into '76. ... Keith Miller could get hurt just putting on his No. 25 jersey. ... No one worked harder at his trade than Jay Payton, but the injury gods -- and Bobby Valentine -- didn't like him. He deserved better for all he did to make it. ... Kaz Matsui always seemed overwhelmed during his run as the Mets' No. 25; so, too, was Bobby Bonilla. ... The Mets' first No. 25 was Frank Thomas (no, not THAT Frank Thomas). And he was a legit power-hitter. ... Don Baylor's time as a Mets coach (No. 25) was too brief.
My No. 1 No. 25 is Willie Montanez. Vince Lashied, the Pittsburgh organist, played the Armour's hot dog jingle when Montanez came to bat.
No. 24: OK, so he was pretty at the end of his career when he joined the Mets, but Willie Mays is baseball's No. 24. With a nod to Rickey Henderson, Willie is the Mets' No. 24, too.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.