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Gimme a 7 and 7 for the Ages

It would be out of character for me to not cheerlead the return of Jose Reyes to the New York Mets [1] for his twelfth non-consecutive season in orange and blue, so RAH-RAH, I say, that Reyes is back without having gone anywhere. If I could grandfather in the four seasons he was elsewhere (and fully excise from my consciousness some reprehensible off-field behavior [2]), I would. Embedded within the core of my Mets fandom is continuity. The core of Jose’s appeal at this point in his career is the same. Jose was a Met in 2003, at Shea, in the company of Piazza, Leiter and Franco. He is slated to be a Met in 2018, at Citi, alongside Cespedes, deGrom and, I hope, a newly acquired infielder besides Ty Kelly [3]. I cheer Jose’s uncommon Met continuity, unfortunate interruption notwithstanding.

Reyes’s most productive days transpired quite a while ago, synced seamlessly at their peak with those emanating from the bats and bodies of Beltran, Delgado and another kid named Wright. He went into the hole with aplomb then. He got to almost every ball then. Defensive metrics weren’t kind to him in 2017 and they didn’t appear to be skewing the eye test. His fairly solid hitting in the second half of ’17 didn’t fully obscure the almost total lack thereof in the first half. A random soon-to-be 35-year-old matching his contemporary output and contracted (albeit for a relative MLB pittance) to fill an amorphous role probably wouldn’t elicit my pom-pom instinct.

But the Mets didn’t sign just anybody. They signed Jose Reyes, my favorite Met from a generation that is otherwise all but gone. Hence, I shall remain cheerfully invested in what the Mets are selling: Jose as potential utility savant; Jose as Amed mentor; Jose as heckuva teammate (did anybody initiate more let alone more dazzling variations on the high-five last year?); and Jose as classic sparkplug, igniting the occasional fire on the basepaths and catalytically converting the memories of ballgames and ballparks gone by into brand new runs that wouldn’t otherwise cross home plate if left to the legs of his mostly lead-footed teammates. I’ve Jose-Jose’d too much to not maintain an emotional stake in Reyes Inc.

Neither one of us is as young as we used to be, yet we’re each still here. You get older, you appreciate staying power.

The reigning No. 7 leads the 56-year-old franchise in triples and steals, though it’s hard to consider Jose the undisputed No. 1 in his numerical realm, because to Mets fans of a wide swath of ages, No. 7 will always instinctively mean Eddie Kranepool [4]. Eddie spent 15 seasons in 7, and that didn’t even encompass his entire career. Eddie pulled on 21 when he was 17 and modeled it until he was 20, turning to 7 only when  356-game-winner Warren Spahn joined the Mets in 1965. Spahnnie, well en route to the Hall of Fame, made the majors before Eddie was born, giving him prior claim on the number by which he was identified as a Milwaukee Brave, a number that used to signify the minimum voting age in the United States. Eddie was a major leaguer who wore two different numbers in five different seasons before he could cast a legal ballot in a general election.

Warren won four games as a Met and took off for San Francisco midway through ’65. Eddie stuck with No. 7, keeping it for the myriad terms of office ahead of him, all of them served under the Mets banner. That’s staying power. That’s continuity like they don’t make anymore. That’s continuity Reyes can’t touch, continuity Wright sadly aches too much to reach [5]. Ed Kranepool was an active Mets player during eighteen consecutive seasons. No pesky commas [6] disrupt his narrative. He came up to the Mets in September 1962 and stayed a Met until September 1979. When he was done, he didn’t wear anybody else’s colors. In fact, he tried to put together a group to buy the only team he knew [7]. It didn’t work out.

Eddie has remained a Met in every sense that matters ever since the last of his 1,418 hits (third-most in franchise history), which came in the last of his 5,436 at-bats (second-most), which occurred in the last of his 1,853 games (most). Of course Ed Kranepool has remained a Met. What else is he going to be to us? He’s Steady Eddie, the Krane, the youngest Met ever, the longest-running Met ever, an Original Met almost, a World Champion Met forever.

Give or take a couple of details, I’m not telling you much that you as a Mets fan don’t already know the gist of. You may also be aware that Ed Kranepool, who passed 73 in November, is dealing with serious medical issues. The man who banged 36 hits off Bob Gibson, laced the most crucial game-winning single of 1969 [8] off Fergie Jenkins and snuck in a 4-for-9 against Cincinnati Reds ace Tom Seaver (illustrating how hard it is to maintain Met continuity when you’re not Ed Kranepool) could surely hold his own when staring down tough opponents. But it doesn’t get much tougher than kidney failure [9], a foe of unspeakable ferocity. Ed needs a kidney. He’s looking. Ed also could use a hand with the expenses associated with medical issues. I spoke to his representative, Martin Glover of Momentum Sports Management recently, and Martin told me that while Eddie’s “upbeat” and “proud,” realities are realities, and the most relevant of them are daunting.

Fortunately, one undeniable reality is Eddie garnered a treasure trove of baseball memorabilia throughout his Mets tenure and beyond. Mets stuff. Yankees stuff, if you’ll excuse the expression. Genuine autographed stuff from a legendary big league life. You don’t leave a mark across eighteen seasons without meeting some high-profile people and collecting some high-profile items if you’re so inclined, which No. 7 always was, dating back to when he was No. 21. Because Eddie understands the value attached to it, he’s willing to part with a not insignificant chunk of it. With Eddie’s blessing, Martin invites anybody who’s sincerely interested over to Eddie’s house in Nassau County to have a look and, hopefully, make a purchase.

Monday through Thursday nights in February, as well as on some weekends, Eddie will be home and available for this truly unique opportunity. Please get in touch with Martin Gover, at (212) 918-4545, to set up an appointment. If you’re a collector, this is the chance of a lifetime. If you’re a Mets fan…well, this is Eddie Kranepool we’re talking about.