Mets retire Willie Mays' No. 24 during Old Timers' Day surprise

Mets retire Willie Mays’ No. 24 throughout Old Timers’ Day surprise initially appeared on NBC Sports Boston

When Willie Mays signed up with the New York Mets in 1972, his arrival included a guarantee.

Joan Payson, then the owner of the Mets, informed Mays his number would be retired by the company after his profession ended.

“Sadly, Mrs. Payson passed away prior to she might make great on her guarantee,” Mets broadcaster Howie Rose said Saturday at Citi Field during a ceremony for Old Timers’ Day. “And all these years later on, it has actually stayed unsatisfied. Until today.”

After player introductions – with legends like Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza lining the basepaths in Flushing – the Mets made a surprise announcement by retiring No. 24 that Mays wore while playing for the team at the end of his Hall of Fame career in 1972 and 1973.

“The New York Mets are proud to announced that, in accordance with Mr. Payson’s wishes, and at the urging of his former Mets teammates, in recognition of his contributions to the Mets, as well as baseball in New York and the country at large, Willie Mays’ 24 will take its place in the left field corner here at Citi Field with the other greats in Mets history,” Rose said.

The 91-year-old Mays, arguably the greatest living baseball player, was not in attendance on Saturday. He was represented by his son, Michael, who wore Mays’ No. 24 jersey and joined his father’s former Mets teammates Jones, Ed Kranepool, Jon Matlack and Felix Millian.

Rose read a statement from Mays.

“I want to thank Steve and Alex Cohen for making this day possible and embracing the Mets history,” the declaration checked out. “I can always remember the method it felt to go back to New York to bet all the devoted Mets fans. I’m enormously happy I ended my profession in Queens with the Mets throughout the ’73 World Series. It’s an honor to have my number retired in my 2 favorites cities, New York and San Francisco. New York was a wonderful location to play baseball.”

Mays invested the very first 21 seasons of his 23-year profession with the Giants, initially in New York and after that San Francisco after the group relocated to the West Coast in 1958. He struck .301 with 660 crowning achievement, which is 6th most in MLB history, and 1,909 RBIs.

Mays was dealt from the Giants to the Mets in May of 1972 for Charlie Williams and $50,000, reuniting him with fans from the city where his big league profession started at the Polo Grounds. Mays homered in his Mets launching, striking a consent solo shot in the bottom of the 5th inning.

Over 2 seasons with the Mets, Mays struck .238 with 14 crowning achievement and 44 RBIs, assisting the Mets reach the 1973 World Series.

Mays ends up being the 6th previous Met to have his number retired, signing up with supervisors Gil Hodges (No. 14) and Casey Stengel (No. 37), and gamers Tom Seaver (No. 41), Jerry Koosman (No. 36), Mike Piazza (No. 31) and Keith Hernandez, whose No. 17 was retired by the group in July.

“I know in his heart, this is a big deal for him,” Mays’ child Michael stated after the event.

Mays provided some crucial postseason hits for the Mets, driving in a run in Game 5 of the NLCS and a consent two-run single in Game 2 of the 1973 World Series. Days later on, he would use his renowned No. 24 for the last time of his profession.

After Mays’ retirement, the number was used by 3 Mets — Kelvin Torve, Ricky Henderson and, most just recently, Robinson Cano. From this day forward, no Met will use Mays’ No. 24.

“Mets fans always gave me the biggest ovations and the loudest thank yous ever,” Mays stated in a declaration. “Today, I return those thank yous from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, Mets.”

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