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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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Can’t Lose with Kooz

On the fiftieth anniversary of the clinching of the 1969 National League East, we learn the New York Mets are retiring No. 36 in honor of Jerry Koosman. My, it feels good to write that.

Jerry Koosman breaks through.

I had been clued in recently that something might be stirring in this area, yet Kooz didn’t immediately jump to mind. Now that he’s there, I love that 36 is next. Best lefty pitcher the Mets ever had. Best postseason pitcher the Mets ever had. Long and meritorious service and then some across twelve seasons. For the past forty years, you looked at 36 on anybody else, from Wayne Twitchell to Mickey Callaway (now clad in 26), and you thought, “Koosman,” regardless of current occupant. He’s owned 36 since 1967. Might as well make it official that it belongs to no Met but him.

Jeff Wilpon (hold your applause) indicates a few more number retirements are on the table, that the Mets have some catching up to do where filling the left field rafters are concerned. I say good. Celebrate this franchise’s cream of the crop. We’re already proud when we’re not disgusted. A little reminder to peek up and remember our best helps the cause. Certainly doesn’t hurt.

Kiner’s mic. Shea’s name. Robinson’s American history. 37. 14. 41. 31. 36. A few more to come.

I can definitely see it.

20 comments to Can’t Lose with Kooz

  • Harvey P

    #17 Keith Hernandez next. Maybe they’ll wait until the 50th anniversary of 1986. And maybe #7 Ed Kranepool.

  • Lenny65

    Awesome news. Still the second best pitcher (sorry Doc, maybe later, Jake) the Mets have ever had. Big game money in the bank. Thrilled to hear it!

  • Tim H

    Yes, Koosman, of course. Very nice. Please allow me yet another brief stroll down memory lane. On this date in 1969, as you have already noted, the Mets clinched the first-ever Eastern Division title. A few days before I was trying figure out after which game the Mets would do that. I chose the game of Sept. 24, the last home game of the regular season. Not for me — I would be working that night as a 17-year-old vendor selling soda in the Field Level boxes. But for my parents and older brother, Eddie. I got tix for them in the Mezzanine. Before that game, and before the gates were opened to the crowd, I noticed third baseman Ed Charles walking up a ramp behind home plate. He was wearing his full Mets uniform (something I had not seen a player do since I started working at Shea earlier that summer). I walked right up to him and said, “Hey, Ed, it’s a long way from Kansas City, right?” (Ed’s earlier career had been spent with the lowly Athletics of Kansas City.) He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Yeah, man.” A short time later, in the first inning, “The Glider” would blast a three-run homer and the Mets were on their way. Believe it not, I still have the clump of grass I tore from the Shea turf that night. (It’s a bit brown, right now.) And, it was the best time to be a Mets fan. So far. Let’s Go Mets!

  • NostraDennis

    I have that card! And yes, 36 is long overdue.
    I would love to see them retire 17 and 8 simultaneously.

  • mikeL

    yes, great news. keep ’em coming jeffie!
    …and an awesome memory stroll indeed Tim.

    • Tim H

      Thanks, mikeL Sometimes it is hard to convey just how magical that year was. I only hope that current Mets fans get to experience the same feeling more often! LGM and LFGM!

  • Dave

    Kooz was great, best big game pitcher in Mets history (albeit with a small sample size). But the Mets are very clumsy with this kind of thing. “Jerry Koosman, you were one of the Mets all-time greats. No one else will wear your #36 again. After the 29 guys who have worn it since you left 40+ years ago, that is. We might even invite some of them back except we can’t remember most of them.”

    Having had 8,16,17 and 24 in mothballed unofficial retirement on and off at times, I’m also surprised to see a number that the likes of Don Florence, Chip Ambres and Henry Owens were all seen worthy of jumping in line ahead of them. Who knows. But not to take anything away from Kooz, amd it’s good to see the owners of Disneyfied Ebbets Field acknowledge Mets history now and then.

  • Will in Central NJ

    In the Autumn of 2019, 50 years after the miracle of 1969, this feels so right, and acts as a balm (somewhat) for the denouement of this season. Congratulations to Jerry Koosman!

  • Lenny65

    Numbers 17, 8 and 5 need to be retired too. Others might be up for debate but those three are no brainers IMO.

    • Flynn23

      Congrats, Kooz. Well deserved.

      Wright is only other no brainer.

      Keith is up for debate.

      Carter and his two good years? No way.

  • eric1973

    Great to hear about Koosman! Just hearing his name and seeing his face, puts a smile on mine. He was the gutsiest of all the pitchers we ever had, probably the only category where he outshone Seaver.

    But please, Jeffie, please don’t cheapen retiring numbers like the Yankees do.

    Just because a guy had 3-5 decent years with the Mets does not make them worthy of number retirement. Please do not lower the bar that much, as this is what makes this franchise special. Just give these guys a bobblehead day or a T-Shirt Friday, and that should just about be enough.

    Remember, those mid to late 80s teams were disappointing underachievers who should have won a whole lot more. Or even a little more.

    BTW, number 36 would have been unoccupied by the current occupant next year anyway, so he could have worn it the remaining 6 games.

  • ljcmets

    We’re going to need a new T-shirt!

  • Since64

    Long long overdue. At last Mets management gets it right. Better late then never.
    I saw Kooz open against the Giants. 1st 3 batters reached base. Up comes the heart of the order, Mays, McCovey and Hart. Kooz struck them all out. We were not use to seeing that from Met pitchers, with the exception of Seaver.
    Who knew, it was only the beginning.. Hearty congrats for recognizing Jeff..

  • Roger Tusiani-Eng

    Wright’s #5 is obvious, but would love to see Buddy’s #3, Rusty’s #4, Krane’s #7 as well. I realize that statistically these were not the greatest players of all time, but what they meant to the club I think is equally important.

  • Since64

    And what about Sewald winning his 1st game in 15 attempts!