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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Growing Older with T.J. Rivera

Hey, T.J. Rivera, you who debuted in a big way last August and found yourself competing, however briefly, in the postseason by October: I dig your .333 batting average, your OPS+ of 117 and that 1st career home run of yours, the 1 you hit off Mark Melancon in the top of the 10th at Nationals Park on September 13 to ward off what felt like imminent doom. But today, the number of yours that I really like is that number of yours, the number on your front and your back.

You, relatively young man, are 54. I, not such a relatively young man, am 54. I’m not wearing it on either end of me, but it’s what my odometer says I am on this, my 54th birthday. You’re considered kind of old for a rookie, but you’re only a little more than half my age.

My age is getting up there. All ages get up there provided they keep going, but this number feels like it’s playing for keeps. Because I came along when I came along — and because I am the way I am — I’ve realized that within a couple of days I will have spent more of my life alive in the 1990s, the 2000s and the 2010s than I did in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. That’s just chronological bookkeeping, I suppose, but it’s jarring. Those early three were my formative decades, yet as of January 2, they will be more than half a lifetime ago.

Nevertheless, I’d like to think I’m still forming.

Every year on December 31, I pause to try my new age on for size and it’s become impossible, given what I’ve devoted most of these 54 years to contemplating, to not think in terms of what Mets line up with my fresh numerals. Of course when I turned 41, I declared it my Seaver year. I couldn’t not think of Armando Benitez (and a whole gang with whom he shared one thing in common) when I turned 49 or the combined forces of Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani as I reached 50. I tried real hard to think of anybody other than T#m Gl@vine at 47.

That’s good fun for December. Come February, when the Mets rematerialize as players on a field rather than figures on a roster, I’ve forgotten all about it. By Spring Training, my age is, like myself, old news. It’s like writing the right year on your checks, assuming you’re of an age when writing checks is something you continue to do. It’s a challenge for a week or two, then it eventually sinks in.

Still, 2017 will be my T.J. Rivera season unless he is disappeared from the Mets or requests and is granted a new number (in which case, the kid is excused from the rest of my rumination). He and I are slated to share a bond, as I have, whether I’ve thought about it or not, with other Mets at other ages in my Met-oriented life.

For the hell of it, I looked up who T.J. Rivera’s predecessors were, specifically who wore what number in the season that number was my age. I thank Ultimate Mets Database and Mets By The Numbers for refreshing my memory on some of these. I thank the Mets for keeping me so engaged as I continue to grow up, never mind grow old.

Blank, 1962: Everybody
I didn’t show up until nearly nine months after the inaugural season started. The Mets didn’t show up in the win column until after nine losses had been compiled. They wore no number on the fronts of their jerseys. I’ll take that to mean they were symbolically saving some space for me. Either way, neither they nor I did very much in 1962.

0, 1963: Unassigned
No Met wore 0 when my age was yet to be expressed in years — nor should any Met ever wear 0 again — but for the record, Tim Harkness had 3 when I was 3 months old, at the start of my first season; Charlie Neal 4 when I grew into a grizzled 4-month-old; Norm Sherry 5 when I had 5 months in the books; Larry Burright 6 when I was at 6 months; Chico Fernandez 7 when I hit 7 months; and (the late) Chris Cannizzaro 8 when I reached 8 months. The season ended on September 29, just before I got to 9 months, or Jim Hickman territory. Like all of the 51-111 1963 Mets together, I was just learning to crawl.

1, 1964: Charley Smith
I was 1 year old when third baseman Charley Smith arrived in a trade from the White Sox, donned No. 1 for the Mets and smacked 20 home runs. No Met would hit that many again until Tommie Agee in 1969. I’m gonna guess I was good for 20 tantrums in 1964.

2, 1965: Chuck Hiller
Chuck Hiller was another midseason addition, coming over from the Giants in May. Made 14 errors while wearing No. 2 in 1965. I can’t imagine I didn’t drop my share of easy grounders as I began to get around on my own two feet at the age of 2.

3, 1966: Bud Harrelson
Buddy was settling into what was about to become his position for the next decade in September. At Candlestick Park, the 22-year-old shortstop turned No. 3 into a blur, tripling and stealing home in the ninth to set up a dramatic win. I’ve been told I could be quite melodramatic at the age of 3.

4, 1967: Ron Swoboda
Ron Swoboda, in his third season, hit .281, Ol’ No. 4’s highest average to date and, as it turned out, ever. At 4, I started nursery school. Higher education awaited.

5, 1968: Ed Charles
The Glider led the Mets in homers the year before the Miracle, with 15. When I was the same age as Ed Charles’s No. 5, I was tempted to run home from kindergarten. Seriously, it wasn’t my scene.

6, 1969: Al Weis
Al Weis, No. 6 on your scorecard, hit the home run that tied Game Five of the 1969 World Series and enabled 6-year-olds like me shortly thereafter to vicariously shout “WE’RE NO. 1!” like we had something to do with it. At a tender age, I learned the essence of fandom, so thank you, Al.

7, 1970: Ed Kranepool
Ed Kranepool had been a Met since before I was born, had been wearing No. 7 since I was 2 and was on a baseball card I’d drawn a mustache and beard on when I was 4. The season I was 7, which was the first year I watched the Mets from beginning to end, he was sent down to Tidewater for a spell. I was pretty new to the whole rooting enterprise, yet I knew enough to be surprised that Ed Kranepool could be even temporarily extracted from the Mets. Imagine how Ed felt.

8, 1971: Yogi Berra
At the tender age of 8, I had little idea what a first base coach did, but I assumed No. 8 with the name I couldn’t believe was so close to a cartoon character seemed to do it well. Yogi Berra, Eddie Yost, Rube Walker, Joe Pignatano…immovable fixtures to my young mind.

9, 1972: Bill Sudakis
By the time I was 9, I was used to certain guys being in certain places. Bill Sudakis was a Dodger catcher, period. Then again, it was the same season Jim Fregosi of the Angels, Rusty Staub of the Expos and Willie Mays of the Giants suddenly became Mets, so why not Bill? As No. 9 for us, he batted .143 in 18 games. Not everybody is Willie Mays or Rusty Staub, though the Mets would prove plenty capable of finding more Jim Fregosis.

10, 1973: Duffy Dyer
Duffy Dyer was backing up Jerry Grote forever, give or take a Bill Sudakis. No. 10 for as long as I could remember (and I had a pretty long memory for a 10-year-old), yet in 1973, Duffy seemed like old news behind flashy newcomer Ron Hodges. It was the kind of year when Ron Hodges could seem flashy. But Duffy chipped in down the stretch, and No. 10 made it to his second World Series, at least the part where they introduce the bench guys.

11, 1974: Wayne Garrett
The season I was 11 started with me in fifth grade, ended with me in sixth grade and No. 11, Wayne Garrett, going in the opposite direction. The hero of September 1973 played almost every day in 1974, batted .224 and inspired the acquisition of Joe Torre to replace him. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed sixth grade a lot more than I did fifth.

12, 1975: Jack Heidemann
I remember, before I turned 12, being pretty excited that the Mets had traded for Jack Heidemann. He played 61 games as No. 12, failing to reach .300 in either on-base or slugging percentage. Not that I knew those stats at the time. I just knew that before I was done being 12, I had ceased being excited about Jack Heidemann.

13, 1976: Unassigned
I wore my 13-year-oldness with pride the January day I was bar mitzvahed, but no Met wore 13 the rest of that year. Except for Roger Craig trying to break a losing streak in 1963, 13 was avoided like it was a shonda. The 1976 Mets were lucky to win 86 games.

14, 1977: Retired for Gil Hodges
When I was 14, I had to come to grips that I was rooting for a team that traded Tom Seaver. Had No. 14 still been alive and managing the Mets, he would have coolly walked to the press level and quietly removed M. Donald Grant from Shea Stadium, because, as we learned when Cleon Jones didn’t hustle after a ball in the outfield, the manager didn’t accept anybody not doing his best to help the Mets win. We sorely missed the likes of Gil Hodges long before 1977, we cherish Gil Hodges always.

15, 1978: Butch Benton
Four games for the first Met to wear No. 15 following the departure of Jerry Grote. Catching prospect Butch Benton was hyped as a future Met star when I was 15. He was done playing for us by the time I was 17.

16, 1979: Lee Mazzilli
The Mets are the worst I’ve ever seen them when I’m 16, but No. 16, Lee Mazzilli, is a legitimate All-Star, batting .303 and rating his own giveaway poster day. He’s the best thing since Seaver, so I hang his picture in my bedroom, where I never took down my pictures of Seaver. The Mets (63-99) are still the worst, but looking at Mazz makes my adolescence a little easier on the baseball front.

17, 1980: Jerry Morales
The Magic was Back when I was 17, except for No. 17. Jerry Morales was relentlessly mundane in 1980. I can still see him chasing a Davey Concepcion fly ball into the right field corner. The ball came out. I’m not convinced Morales ever did.

18, 1981: Joel Youngblood
At the moment I’m becoming an 18-year-old high school graduate, No. 18, Joel Youngblood is sitting on a .359 average. Why would he be sitting amidst a fifth-place club? Well, for one thing, he was injured. For a second thing, there was a players strike dragging into its second week. Also, Ellis Valentine had been obtained to ultimately take his spot in right, so had there been a Mets game and had Youngblood been healthy, who knows whether Joe Torre would have found room for his .359 average. God, what a weird team and weird time. As college drew closer, the strike was settled, and Youngblood was named an All-Star. Baseball was back! Such excitement! Joel Youngblood’s gonna bat! He pinch-hit for Fernando Valenuzela, popped up to end the inning and did so while wearing a goddamned Atlanta Braves helmet. I waited all summer for that?

19, 1982: Ron Gardenhire
At 19, I felt I was beginning to learn a little about life as an adult, but I never learned why No. 19, Ron Gardenhire, played 141 games for the 1982 Mets despite demonstrating no particular acumen for hitting or fielding. Perhaps some things are meant to remain a mystery.

20, 1983: Rick Ownbey/Mike Fitzgerald
I wish I could have planted the seeds for my future as effectively when I was 20 as Frank Cashen did for the Mets’ future when he traded No. 20, Rick Ownbey, on June 15, 1983 for a first baseman from St. Louis. My contemporary age-number would be passed along to rookie Mike Fitzgerald in September, and Fitzgerald would wear it well immediately, homering in his first major league at-bat. It wouldn’t stop Cashen from trading Mike for a catcher from Montreal. Who knew 20 would turn into such a lucky number, let alone a championship three years removed from its dual occupation?

21, 1984: Ross Jones/Herm Winningham
At 21, I was old enough to drink, plus it was my first presidential vote (I had to have Hart). Wearing 21, Ross Jones elected to deliver exactly one base hit in April, but it drove in the winning run, and we all drank to that. Ross was gone by May. Come September, Herm Winningham would don his digits. Herm hit .407, which was great mostly because it made him attractive enough to be part of the same trade with Fitzgerald that landed the aforementioned Montreal catcher, Gary Carter, who lined up alongside that former St. Louis first baseman, Keith Hernandez. Good work, 21!

22, 1985: Ray Knight
I graduated from college at 22. I had not majored in patience, because I was sure No. 22, Ray Knight (.218/.252/.328), was never going to be worth a damn for the Mets. I was right, of course, at least until I was 23.

23, 1986: Bud Harrelson
When I was 23, I was urging Kevin Mitchell home on a wild pitch in the tenth inning of the sixth game of the World Series. So was Bud Harrelson, except Buddy was wearing No. 23 and coaching third base. We both had the right instincts.

24, 1987: Unassigned
24 was out of circulation the year I was 24, as it has been out of circulation most every year since Willie Mays left the Mets’ employ, but I was in circulation enough to meet my future wife. Say Hey, that worked out pretty well.

25, 1988: Keith Miller
Keith Miller, No. 25, is a largely forgotten supersub, but he was good for a spark to the lineup now and then. I, at age 25, needed a kick in the pants. I could still use one, actually.

26, 1989: Kevin Tapani/Frank Viola
Kevin Tapani would go on to a fine career. Frank Viola had already had a fine career. Each wore 26 for the New York Mets in 1989, the season I was 26 and just getting my career as a magazine editor off the ground. Neither pitcher was particularly distinguished as No. 26 for the Mets directly before or after they were traded for each other. Me, I was still figuring out how to properly use the computers at work.

27, 1990: Tom O’Malley
On June 5, the heretofore utterly dispensable No. 27, Tom O’Malley, hit a walkoff home run that went a long way toward turning the 1990 season around and confirming for me, at 27, that I was never going to grow out of taking this Mets thing seriously.

28, 1991: Tommy Herr
The season I was 28 was the last season during which I was technically single. I got married after the season was over in 1991, by which time Tommy Herr, No. 28, was an ex-Met, released in August after producing 35 singles from April onward. Also, he never stopped being a fucking Cardinal as far as I was concerned.

29, 1992: Dave Magadan
In 1992, at 29, I bought my first new car. In 1992, at 29, Dave Magadan reclaimed his old number, 29. Viola wore it in 1990 and 1991, then left. Magadan never played for the Mets again after getting injured in August. I’m still driving that same car.

30, 1993: Mel Stottlemyre
Mel Stottlemyre, No. 30, tutored some great Met staffs, starting in 1984. In 1993, the Met staff wasn’t so great, so it became his last year as Met pitching coach. I was your garden-variety disgusted Mets fan the season I was 30 years old, but I can honestly say it never occurred to me any of what was going wrong (59-103 and a new embarrassment every week) was Mel’s fault. Here’s to the now 75-year-old Stottlemyre continuing his reported recovery.

31, 1994: John Franco
Before another strike cut the legs out from another season, John Franco was enjoying as good a run as he ever would as No. 31 for the New York Mets. John had 30 saves through August 11, but there’d be no more leads for anybody to protect while making you nervous. At 31, I was enjoying the mini-renaissance of 1994 following the epic disaster of 1993, but withstood the strike far better than I had in 1981. Practice at deprivation must help.

32, 1995: Unassigned
Pete Smith was gone. Paul Wilson wasn’t yet here. At 32 in 1995, my lonely eyes cried out for Jon Matlack, but would have settled for another No. 32 of yore, Tom Hausman.

33, 1996: Andy Tomberlin
No. 33, Andy Tomberlin, wasn’t too bad (OPS+ 117) as reserve outfielders on subpar teams went. The 1996 Mets (71-91), however were determinedly subpar. At the age of 33, I was OK, I guess, but I would have been better had anybody else been world champions that season.

34, 1997: Bob Apodaca
Bob Apodaca slipped on the same No. 34 he sported as a reliever in the mid-’70s and guided the pitchers who won 88 games, or more than any Mets team had won since 1990. It was a full-blown Flushing revival, and one that makes me look back on the year I was 34 as one of the happiest of my adult life. Was anything else particularly great going on around me? Let’s say nothing terrible got in the way of my love for the 1997 Mets.

35. 1998: Rick Reed
Rick Reed — 16-11, 212.1 IP, 29 BB — was an All-Star in No. 35 when I was age 35. Meanwhile, Franco traded in 31 for 45 because another 31 wandered onto the premises. A pretty good numbers year all around, save for the lack of 1 more win at the end of the season. I’d look back with more fondness on 1998 had the Mets not gone 0-5 in their last five games and blown the Wild Card…but it’s not like I was letting a baseball team dictate my mood.

36, 1999: Greg McMichael
No Met season held me in its grip tighter than 1999, yet for all of my deep and textured memories from the year I was 36, my recall of the performance of No. 36, Greg McMichael, is dim. I do remember his inclusion in the trade that brought Billy Taylor to town, and that batters went to town on Billy Taylor. I more vividly remember my tattered emotional state following the final game of the NLCS and it striking me that at age 36, maybe it’s odd that I find myself in a veritable fetal position on the living room carpet momentarily unable to cope with the realization that the team I love more than just about anything else has been eliminated and the impending World Series is about to include the two teams I hate most in all of creation. Then I shooed that thought away and returned to reverting to my base self.

37, 2000: Retired for Casey Stengel
The number that matched my age of 37 had been enshrined on Casey Stengel’s behalf for 35 years when the Mets returned to their first World Series since 1986. Bobby Valentine expertly juggled several players who were not championship-caliber to push the Mets to a pennant. Casey Stengel, in his prime, might have found a way to push them four games further. He would have pinch-run for Timo Perez, I bet. If ya wanna take yer time, buy a wristwatch. If ya wanna be a ballplayer, get yer kaboose in gear. The train to Virginny leaves at the crack of dawn and sunset comes fast if yer gonna move slow.

38, 2001: Jerrod Riggan
At 38, I was reminded (as we all were in 2001, whatever our ages) that baseball can’t transcend everything. But Jesus, that game two days after Piazza hit the home run. Armando gives up the home run to Brian Jordan in the ninth, then another run that allows the Braves to tie. It’s two innings after that that Jerrod Riggan, No. 38 and preternaturally obscure even as he’s pitching right in front of you, gives up another fly ball to Jordan that isn’t coming back, and when the Mets can’t do anything against Smoltz in the bottom of the eleventh, I’m so incredibly pissed off that the Mets have lost, even though it’s September 23, 2001, and all that date implies by its proximity to the date a scant dozen days prior. The voice in my head telling me that some things are far, far, far worse than the Mets losing ground in a last-ditch playoff chase is muffled by my cursing out Braves 5 Mets 4 and thinking about baseball and only baseball for a few minutes, which is the first time I’ve done that since, oh, September 10. Life went on, which I suppose was the silver lining.

39, 2002: Steve Reed
Steve Reed was acquired for the stretch drive in 2002. He put on No. 39 and pitched well, but the stretch drive was more like a stretch dive, as the Mets splashed down in last place for the first time since 1993. At age 39, I was in the stretch drive of my time with the magazine I’d been at since I was 26. Really, it was more like playing out the string at the very end. Reed moved on to the Rockies. I found another magazine where I could ply my trade by December.

40, 2003: Jae Seo
Jae Seo, No. 40, was one of the few bright spots for the otherwise doomed 2003 Mets. At 40, and getting my new magazine off the ground, I wasn’t writing about baseball in any capacity except in e-mails, but I was fond of framing the scope of Mets history as spanning “Jay Hook to Jae Seo”. I still like that line. And, boy, did I need to discover blogging.

41, 2004: Retired for Tom Seaver
I was 41 and found myself laid off as we were on the verge of buying a home for the first time. Not Terrific.

42, 2005: Retired for Jackie Robinson
When I was 42, and starting a baseball blog with my friend in 2005, putting the number 42 on every ballpark wall was tribute enough to the legacy of Jackie Robinson. Everybody wearing 42 all at once one day a year came later. So did a Rotunda. It’s all good, I guess.

43, 2006: Bartolome Fortunato/Royce Ring
Because Faith and Fear was up and running in what became one of the great regular seasons in Mets history, I can go back in the archives and confirm that after my age 43 season was over, I considered the two wearers of No. 43 remarkably insignificant contributors to the 97-65 division-winning campaign. I ranked Fortunato (3 IP, 27.00 ERA) the 49th-best Met of 2006, fully aware that exactly 49 Mets suited up and played that year. Ring (10.2 IP, 5.06 ERA) checked in as 39th-best. I have to admit, I have no recollection of what boosted Royce’s stock that high.

44, 2007: Lastings Milledge
At 44, I was waiting for No. 44, Lastings Milledge, to truly bust out. I’m 54 now and am still waiting. (Lastings could say the same of me and I wouldn’t strenuously argue with his critique.)

45, 2008: Pedro Martinez
When you stick around long enough, you can step back and be amazed at how fleeting so much is. Pedro Martinez joining the New York Mets was an enormous deal when it happened. He put on No. 45 for us and it was news every time he showed his face let alone used his right arm. By 2008, when I was 45, he was pretty close to being just another starter behind Johan Santana. It hadn’t helped that he’d been injured and (like all of us) was aging, but mostly his being a Met just wasn’t news anymore. Save for a rather poignant exit from the mound in what turned out to be his final Met and Shea Stadium start, his last season in our laundry was the textbook example of whimper. These days, Pedro Martinez, New York Met, is a footnote. He was a real had-to-be-there phenomenon in his day. I’m very glad I was there.

46, 2009: Oliver Perez
At 46, I really resented having to transfer my fandom from Shea to Citi Field. I couldn’t believe how little of their story the Mets chose to tell in their new ballpark, how few artifacts from their old home they kept and displayed. Yet they managed to find space for No. 46, Oliver Perez. Yeesh.

47, 2010: Hisanori Takahashi
I’m a fan of small success stories that are destined to be forgotten. When I was 47, the Mets at their best were little more than the sum of a handful of small success stories. Hisanori Takahashi, No. 47 for that season and that season alone, epitomized the concept. He came over from Japan without a set role and filled several admirably, picking up five wins as a starter, five as a reliever and saving eight games as a temporary closer. After the 2010 season ended, the Mets released Hisanori, he signed with the Angels and we all pretty much forgot he ever existed. Maybe we have only so much capacity for so many players.

48, 2011: Pat Misch
When Pat Misch joined the Mets in 2009, I scoffed, mainly because I had never heard of Pat Misch. By the time Misch, No. 48, was finishing his three partial seasons as a Met in 2011, I, at 48, had come to modestly appreciate his having hung in there as long as he did. It’s not that he wholly confounded my lack of expectations or led the Mets anywhere except through another acre of necessary innings. I think it occurred to me that dismissing somebody in advance because Who the hell is Pat Misch? isn’t fair to a perfectly honorable professional. I seemed to be maturing late in my fifth decade. Then again, his 10.29 ERA in six appearances in 2011 may not serve as the ideal Exhibit A — or R.A. — against judging a retread pitcher too quickly or harshly.

49, 2012: Jon Niese
Jon Niese, No. 49 for a surprisingly long time, had his best season in 2012, when I was 49, and he was still kind of a drag. To be fair, the season was a drag and the era was a drag, so if Niese helped define those desultory days, whaddaya want from the guy? He fit Niesely into his surroundings and circumstances. Shortly before my 54th birthday, I found myself watching an SNY rebroadcast of Santana’s no-hitter, which was wonderful, natch, but also a little offputting in that wow, what a bunch of crummy players the Mets had in 2012. We rightly applauded Johan’s bona fides as he ascended to the stratosphere of Met pitching that June 1 night, but the guys who supported him: Omar Quintanilla, Andres Torres, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter (golden catch notwithstanding), Josh Thole (granted, the only Met catcher to ever handle a no-hitter)…looking at them now, they read like a Triple-A roster. The picture didn’t get much better when the rest of the team mobbed Santana when it was done. This was the season R.A. Dickey won 20 games and David Wright was healthy and all-around wonderful, yet the team as a whole was still dispiriting to consider. No wonder they went 74-88. No wonder I was Met-grumpy as my forties wound down. No wonder Niese was Niese.

50, 2013: Scott Atchison
I was 50, but Scott Atchison, who wore 50, looked 50, or what I imagined 50 was supposed to look like. He was 37. He may have been the oldest-looking man in a Mets uniform since the Ol’ Perfesser inhabited No. 37. This is all ageist talk from someone on the less sunny side of the half-century mark, but seriously, Atchison appeared to have been around longer than three Julio Francos. Like most transient Mets of the early Alderson-Collins period, he was destined to not be around us for very long.

51, 2014: Dave Hudgens
The Mets weren’t hitting when I was 51, so they fired No. 51, Dave Hudgens, their hitting coach. They replaced him with Lamar Johnson. They didn’t hit all that much with him on board, either. Kevin Long came next. He’s either a genius or there are better hitters for him to coach. I have to confess, I haven’t advanced in my understanding of what exactly coaches do since I was 8 and Yogi Berra was issuing reassuring pats on the ass to Mets who occasionally reached first.

52, 2015: Carlos Torres/Yoenis Cespedes
My age 52 season began with Carlos Torres as No. 52 and ended with Yoenis Cespedes as No. 52, and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about 2015, I can recommend a book that will giddily fill you in. Due respect to Mazzilli when I was 16 and Reed when I was 35, I don’t think anybody ever synced better for me than Cespedes when I was 52. (And I always had a soft spot for Carlos, Tsuris notwithstanding.)

53, 2016: Unassigned
Honestly, I hadn’t noticed nobody wore 53 the season I was 53. To paraphrase from the movie I’ve probably cited more often than any other in this space, “I mean, seriously, how often do you really look for a No. 53?”

ADDENDUM: Off in the shadows of the official roster, a vigilant reader notes, Dave Racaniello, longtime bullpen catcher, wore 53 in 2016. You don’t have great pitching without someone preparing the pitchers, and goodness knows preparation is to be appreciated at any age. Thank you, Dave, for all you do to make our Mets better.

54 T.J. Rivera 2017 (Projected)
The season I’ll be 54, fortunes to be determined. Not knowing what will happen next is one of those conditions of aging you get used to.

Happy recent Koosmanic birthday to my friend Kevin, himself entering his Sean Gilmartin season. Our December exchanges over the years helped inspire this trip down numeracy lane. And Happy New Year to all our readers, no matter where on the roster your birth certificate lands you in the twelve months ahead.

24 comments to Growing Older with T.J. Rivera

  • Dave

    Many happy returns of the day, Greg, and thank you for the inspiration to spend part of the day today putting together a similar list for myself…as I start approaching an era at which my age will be reflected on the backs of guys not heading north after spring training. But for now, I’m Kevin Long going on Josh Smoker, being that the Mets are now using numbers more fitting for ineligible receivers.

    But I do recall when my daughter’s first-ever favorite Met was Timo Perez, for this very reason.

    Oh, and I think with some freed up numbers such as 11 and 16 (and hopefully 19), TJ and Ty will be given new numbers that make them look more like utility infielders and less like non-roster invites.

    • Dave

      OK, what are the odds…I had 2 ages, quite some time apart, where the Met wearing my number was the same guy – John Franco’s 31 and 45 both coincided with those birthdays for me. How’s that for trivial?

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Jerrod Riggan?? I remember exactly where I was listening to the last innings of that game on the radio, but the name Jerrod Riggan is a total blank to me. I would have guessed he was somebody I went to Junior High School with or something.

    So, Happy Birthday. 68 here. See, 54 is not so bad. Then again, I was around for the Births of The Mets AND The Beatles, so there.

  • joe nunz

    Happy Birthday. May you someday write, “…he is the first guy since Turk and his crazy necklaces to wear this number, I’m just numerically lucky it was this year…”

  • Jan Allen

    My goodness, this took time and love and dedication, not to mention research- had to ask your parents for some of that early 1-2-3 data!?
    Great devotion and a fun read!
    Thanks- give us more and happy 2017 for all!

    • Some projects take on a quick life of their own. My parents, rest their souls, wouldn’t have known Chuck Hiller from Ground Chuck. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you.

  • Paul Schwartz

    happy birthday Greg
    sorry you’ve never been able to go to a,game on your birthday (unless you go to the Caribbean or Australia).
    you give us,a lot of pleasure and I hope today is a,great day for you.
    Happy New,Year 43 days to pitchers and catchers (or to honor today’s blog topic Addison Reed Day)

  • Are you really driving the same car? Amazin’! Same car, same team. Now that’s loyalty! No easy task too. I bet that car is like part of the family now. I tip my cap. And Happy Birthday, many more, allAdat!!

    • Me and Ol’ Blue are still hanging in there after all these years; we’ve been together since the week Tom Seaver was elected to the HOF. Thank you for your well wishes.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Happy birthday, Greg. I’m tickled that your post included both Jerrod Riggan and Royce Ring, who both attended my son’s alma mater, San Diego State.

    My birthday comes up at the end of the regular season. My 60th birthday was the day of the unfortunate Gl@v!ne game. This year my 70th birthday will find the Mets in Philly. Hopefully, they will have already secured a playoff spot by that time.

  • Ed

    May 54 wear well for you and all of us Mets fans! Happy birthday and new year. Keep going. Looking forward to reading you when you are wearing Turk Wendell on your back.


  • Kevin from Flushing

    Happy belated! And thanks for the well wishes! High hopes for TJ to go along with high hopes for my 36 year. Koosman sure knew how to win in October.

  • argman

    Happy Birthday Greg. This was so entertaining – let’s face it, an fascination with numbers is one reason why so many of us become obsessed with baseball.

  • Paul Terreri

    From a long-time Mets fan (age: Yo minus one), thanks for a nice trip down memory lane. Havent heard anyone mention Duffy Dyer in quite some time. …However, speaking of backstops, I think you may owe an apology to Dave Racaniello, who you failed to acknowledge as your #53 last year. The Mets website says he has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, run two NYC marathons… and has been a bullpen catcher in our organization for the last 16 years!!!! … Just when you think you know everything about a team….

  • JerseyJack

    Nicely done, Greg ! 54 ?? You’re a youngster. I’ve got you by a Mike Vail or Joe Orsulak !