The Mets remove Jerry Koosman's jersey

At the end of June I went to a Mets-Phillies doubles program at Citi Field and in the second inning of Game 1 I started to assume the wo...


At the end of June I went to a Mets-Phillies doubles program at Citi Field and in the second inning of Game 1 I started to assume the worst.

By then, four, then five, then six Mets had successively beaten Aaron Nola of the Phillies. That left Nola just four minutes off the record for most consecutive strikeouts by a pitcher in a single game, a record that was set by Tom Seaver and spanned 51 years.

Seaver had died in the previous August and those 10 straight strikeouts he scored against the San Diego Padres on April 22, 1970 – the last 10 strikeouts of the game, no less – was a beautiful testament to who he was as a pitcher and a Met. And yet here are the 2021 Mets, its own descendants, swaying and missing and swaying and missing. Seaver’s record seemed in danger.

The Mets’ Jacob deGrom had taken his own scoring run for Seaver in April, striking out nine Rockies in a row before the 10th hit a second-place goal. But a great Mets pitcher leading another great Mets pitcher was one thing; a conga line of hapless Mets hitters sabotaging Seaver’s record was another.

When Nola struck out three more Mets in the third inning, bringing his streak to nine, you wondered if there was an awareness in the Mets dugout that they were about to hunt down the mud on the one of the rare moments of real distinction in the team. the story. I had witnessed the futility of an ocean in my nearly 60 years as a Mets fan, but that was one step too many.

Showing no desperation, Michael Conforto also pulled out sticks, making it 10 in a row. But stupid luck stepped in and Pete Alonso, with Nola just one stroke away from grabbing the record for himself, took out his bat and came full circle on the right field line which landed just for a double. Nola’s strikeout streak ended at 10 and Seaver’s record was at least half-preserved.

Which brings us to Saturday night. The Mets have collapsed yet again, but they will take time out from their continued misery and host a pre-game ceremony to remove the No.36 uniform Jerry Koosman wore for the Mets for 12 seasons. So, two months after breaking Seaver’s strikeout record, the Mets will be doing something they aren’t doing enough of, which is fully honoring one of their own.

And Koosman surely deserves the gesture.

In 1969, of course, he was the left-handed counterpart of right-hander Seaver, both claiming game-after-game victory in the home stretch of the regular season. That would never happen now, in this age of pitch-count limits, but it was pretty remarkable even then.

In the World Series that year, against the Orioles, Koosman scored a hit in the seventh inning of Game 2, then pitched all nine innings of Game 5 as the Mets finished their superb run at their first championship. Four years later, Seaver and Koosman were back in the series, though the Mets fell to the A’s in seven games.

And that was it. They had arrived together on the Mets in 1967 and Seaver was the first to leave, exiled to Cincinnati in 1977 by Mr. Donald Grant, the imperious general manager of the Mets. Koosman stayed on for one more season, dropping a sad 3-15 as the Mets finished in last place. Koosman then spent six seasons with the Twins, White Sox and Phillies. In his first season away from the Mets, he immediately rebounded with a 20-13 record. Do whatever you want with it.

He now becomes the third Mets player to retire his number, joining Seaver’s No.41 and Mike Piazza’s No.31 (the team also retired managers Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges’ numbers). Unlike Seaver and Piazza, Koosman is not a Hall of Famer and unlike those two, he has a distracting asterisk on his resume – a 2009 misdemeanor conviction for federal tax evasion that led to a sentence of six months in prison.

It sure is and we all are imperfect – and if we are talking about imperfection, the Mets are surely at the top of the list. So it’s good that Koosman is honored, weather permitting, and that a statue of Seaver, which should have been in place years ago, is finally unveiled outside Citi Field at the start of the season. next.

The story is fragile, easily ignored or forgotten or, in the case of this game in June, accidentally trampled on. The Mets would be wise to do a more determined job to embrace the little greatness that has happened to them.

As it stands, Seaver’s mark of 10 consecutive strikeouts is unlikely to last any longer. The Brewers’ Corbin Burnes pulled out 10 consecutive Cubs earlier this month and with too many players now on strikes too often, some pitchers are expected to hit 11 soon.

But even when that record goes, Seaver’s No.41 is firmly in place at Citi Field, and now his former partner Koosman’s No.36 will join him. This is how it should be.

Jay Schreiber is the former New York Times baseball editor.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The Mets remove Jerry Koosman's jersey
The Mets remove Jerry Koosman's jersey
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