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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Darryl Strawberry’s No. 18 retired by Mets: Team’s all-time home run leader honored at Citi Field

SportsDarryl Strawberry's No. 18 retired by Mets: Team's all-time home run leader honored at Citi Field


The New York Mets honored their all-time home run leader Saturday afternoon and officially retired Darryl Strawberry’s No. 18 during a pregame ceremony at Citi Field. To mark the occasion, the Mets turned their home run apple into a strawberry:

“When they came and got me out of class, they said you’ve been drafted by the New York Mets — No. 1 — I said, ‘Where the heck is New York at?” Strawberry joked during his speech. “Little did I know that I would come to the greatest place to play baseball. Little did I know I would play in front of the greatest fans, forever. There was nothing like playing in Queens. There was nothing like playing at Shea Stadium.”

Now 62, Strawberry suffered a heart attack in March. He was cleared to travel with a portable defibrillator and was able to attend Dwight Gooden’s number retirement ceremony in April. “I came close to losing my life. I’m sitting here because it’s a gift from the Lord and I don’t take it for granted,” Strawberry said prior to Saturday’s ceremony.

The Mets selected Strawberry with the No. 1 pick of the 1980 draft, and he reached the big leagues as a 21-year-old in 1983. He was an immediate middle-of-the-order force and won NL Rookie of the Year that season with a .257/.336/.512 batting line and 26 home runs. During his eight years with the Mets, Strawberry was simply one of the best hitters in the sport.

Strawberry slugged three postseason home runs during New York’s 1986 World Series run and he was NL MVP runner-up to Kirk Gibson in 1988. He had back-to-back 39-homer seasons in 1987 and 1988, and during his eight years with the Mets, Strawberry slashed .263/.359/.520 while averaging 32 home runs per season. He went to seven All-Star Games with the Mets from 1984-90.

Strawberry is New York’s all-time leader with 252 home runs and a 145 OPS+. He is second in franchise history in WAR among position players (36.6), second in RBI (733) and walks (580), third in runs scored (662) and extra-base hits (469), fourth in total bases (2,028), and fifth in stolen bases (191). Needless to say, Strawberry’s number retirement is long overdue.

Here is the franchise home run leaderboard:

  1. Darryl Strawberry: 252
  2. David Wright: 242
  3. Mike Piazza: 220
  4. Pete Alonso: 204 (and counting)
  5. Howard Johnson: 192

Following the 1990 season, Strawberry signed a five-year free agent contract worth $20.25 million with his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal made him the second highest-paid player in baseball behind Jose Canseco. “I mean this from the bottom of my heart: I’m so sorry for ever leaving you guys,” Strawberry said during his speech Saturday.

Since taking control of the Mets in Nov. 2020, owner Steve Cohen has embraced the club’s history and honored several of the team’s all-time greats. Gooden (No. 16), Keith Hernandez (No. 17), Jerry Koosman (No. 36), Willie Mays (No. 24), and now Strawberry (No. 18) have all had their numbers retired since Cohen purchased the team.

No. 18 is the tenth retired number in Mets history, joining No. 14 (Gi Hodges), No. 16 (Gooden), No. 17 (Hernandez), No. 24 (Mays), No. 31 (Mike Piazza) No. 36 (Koosman), No. 37 (Casey Stengel), No. 41 (Tom Seaver), and the universally retired No. 42 (Jackson Robinson).





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