Franco to be inducted into Mets Hall of Fame
Former closer has most saves by a lefty in baseball history
NEW YORK -- A burgeoning team Hall of Fame is about to gain another member. The Mets on Thursday announced plans to induct former closer John Franco into their Hall of Fame this summer, making Franco their fifth new inductee in three years.
"I am truly honored and humbled by being elected into the Mets Hall of Fame," Franco said. "Growing up as a kid in Brooklyn and ... always rooting for the Mets, and then working my way through high school and college and having a good career here in New York, it's an honor for me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
Franco's resume with the Mets includes 276 saves, tops in franchise history, as well as a National League pennant in 2000. Spending 14 of his 21 big league seasons in New York, Franco amassed 424 career saves, the most by a left-hander and fourth most all time.
His 3.10 ERA as a Met ranks fifth amongst those with at least 700 innings pitched for the franchise. Franco posted a 2.89 overall career ERA with the Mets, Reds and Astros.
"Obviously, John's career statistics are exceptional," said Mets executive vice president of business operations Dave Howard. "But beyond that, Johnny was always very special to Mets fans and to this organization, being a true New Yorker who was committed to being a productive and good member of the community."
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, who serves as ex officio for the selection committee, echoed those sentiments.
"John set a very high standard during his career both on and off the field," Wilpon said in a statement. "It's great that during our 50th-anniversary season we can have John -- a true New Yorker in every sense -- inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame."
Franco will become the 26th member of the Mets Hall of Fame, joining 2010 inductees Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen. Prior to that ceremony, the Mets had not inducted any new members since Tommie Agee in '02.
Former Mets catcher Gary Carter, who is currently battling brain cancer, was inducted a year earlier in 2001. Carter is one of five Mets Hall of Famers also to have a plaque in Cooperstown; Casey Stengel (Mets Hall of Fame Class of 1981), George Weiss ('82), Ralph Kiner ('84) and Tom Seaver ('88) are the others.
The Mets Hall of Fame committee is comprised of a combination of front-office staff and media members with long-standing connections to the club. The members include Howard, who has been with the organization for 20 years; vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz, entering his 33rd season with the club; executive director of marketing Tina Mannix, who has been with the Mets for 11 years; former Mets pitcher and original Met Al Jackson, a pitching consultant in his sixth decade with the Mets; MLB.com writer Marty Noble, who has covered the team since 1971; SNY's play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen, entering his 24th season of broadcasting Mets baseball; and WFAN play-by-play announcer Howie Rose, who has covered the team since 1987.
Franco's Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Sunday, June 3, prior to the team's 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals.
Recently, Franco has become more involved with the Mets as an unofficial team ambassador, most notably offering to tutor reliever Bobby Parnell last September. But Franco said he does not currently desire a more permanent role within the organization.
"Right now, I'm pretty happy what I'm doing," Franco said, referencing the freedom he has to travel around the country and watch his son play college baseball. "Maybe in the future, but right now, I'm enjoying my role here with the organization."
Franco's son, J.J., started at second base as a freshman for Brown University last season, hitting .173 in 40 games. The Mets selected the younger Franco in the 42nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft despite his commitment to Brown; as expected, he did not sign.