The Mets have retired the numbers of only four numbers since their inception in 1962. The most recent, Jackie Robinson, never was a Met or affiliated with the team. The Mets will continue along these same lines, or in this case, along the first base line, when they retire Bill Buckner’s number he wore for the Red Sox against the Mets in the 1986 World Series.
Although the Mets have had star players in their history, they are reluctant to retire numbers, and a team doctor attributes this fear to a higher form of superstitions related to the number six.
“The theme is ‘6’ for a celebration on Aug. 6 prior to our home game against the Braves,” Mets owner Fred Wilpon said. “It won’t be like any of those exuberant ‘Banner Days’ the Mets used to have before the fans developed negative attitudes and banners, but we’re honoring Billy ‘Buck’ in a little ceremony at first base and permanently marking the dirt behind the bag with his No. 6.”
The Mets won Game Six 25 years ago this October when Buckner–playing first for the Red Sox–failed to corral a ground ball that trickled through his legs in the bottom of the 10th inning at Shea Stadium. The Red Sox had taken a 5-3 lead at the top of the inning and a few times in the bottom of the frame were just one strike away from winning the Series.
“I want nothing to do with this,” Buckner said when he received the Mets’ invitation, which he tore up. “I much rather go to Wrigley Field for ’70s Night. Hey, don’t the Cubs have ’70s Night anymore? I could work the booth with Erik Estrada.”
By Rob C. Christiansen