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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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The Constant of Our Times

The alliteration was irresistible, but Pedro Feliciano wasn’t so much perpetual, per the clever nickname tagged on him by the SNY booth, as he was constant. Granted, the two words work in adjacent cubicles at Roget’s, but perpetual implies something that goes on forever. Constant — in noun form — is something that is always there, at least as long as you can ask it to be.

Pedro Feliciano at his peak was the constant of the Mets bullpen and maybe the Mets experience overall. Perhaps if Pedro’s parents were partial to Carlos or Camilo or Kenny or any baby boy name that leads with a hard “c” sound, Gary Cohen would have alerted us like clockwork that Constant [Insert Alliterative Name Here] was warming up in the bullpen. As it happened, his parents liked “Pedro” and so did we.

We’ve learned the limits of presumed perpetuity with the news that Feliciano, the Mets’ lefty relief specialist whose solid work in orange and blue spanned a dozen seasons, five managers and a pair of home ballparks, has passed away at 45. It goes without saying that 45 is far too young to go.

It’s also far too soon to lose a Met who called Citi Field his professional home. Perpetual Pedro is the first Citi Field Met to leave us. Citi Field has been in operation for all of thirteen seasons. A decade hasn’t gone by since Pedro Feliciano was retiring batters there. For a while, particularly in its infancy, you could be pretty certain that if you planned a day or night at the Mets’ red-bricked crib, you would see Pedro Feliciano pitch. Maybe slightly before you clapped along to “Lazy Mary”; maybe a half-inning after. You knew you’d hear the song. You were fairly sure you’d see the southpaw. Was the game close? Did the other team have a dangerous lefty hitter looming? Pedro was available.

The final game at Shea Stadium included among its festivities Pedro Feliciano pitching. The first game at Citi Field was no different. Coming and going and Pedro. All were constants of the era. The Mets could be very good when Feliciano was on call — he was intrinsic to the fortunes of the 2006 National League East champs and their uncommonly effective bullpen. The Mets could miss expectations and postseasons, as was the case when the entire bullpen collapsed from overwork in ’07 and ’08. The Mets, quite frankly, could be quite frightful, which was their story most of the other years Pedro was around (2002-2004; 2009-2010; 2013).

But, boy, was he around and on call and constant. Eighty-six appearances in 2008. Eighty-eight appearances in 2009. Ninety-two appearances in 2010. Pedro led the league in games pitched all those years. He set standards no Met reliever has touched since. And his managers didn’t keep finding opportunities for him out of sheer curiosity. Pedro Feliciano tended to take care of the batters against whom he was matched. His mix of poise, resilience and offspeed stuff was effective enough so that he achieved the rare status of 21st-century Met reliever who you remember well and without rancor.

Pedro’s time, in all those games not all that long ago, is part of our time. We’re not remembering somebody from the sepia-toned past. Pedro Feliciano’s last year as a Met was 2013. Jeurys Familia, of the 2021 Mets, was a Met in 2013. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard were Met minor leaguers on the rise then. Feliciano the constant was improbably in his third tenure with this organization that season. Pedro left the Mets twice — to pitch in Japan in 2005 and to take the Yankees’ money in 2011 (after which injury shelved him for two years) — yet never wore any uniform other than the Mets’ in official MLB competition. He wound his way through other affiliations, but that left arm answered only calls from our dugout. Feliciano’s name resides in the upper tier of Nothing But A Met rankings: Ed Kranepool, David Wright, Michael Conforto (pending free agency), Ron Hodges, then Pedro, at the moment claiming six games more as Nothing But A Met than Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo, like Dom Smith, was a 2021 Met who was gaining seasoning in our system in 2013.

So, no, it wasn’t that long ago that we glanced toward right field and saw Pedro get his last toss in and jog through that gate at Citi Field. He predated SNY, but not by that much. He predated this blog, but became a prominent bullpen option while we were watching and writing. My two strongest memories of Pedro Feliciano of the New York Mets aren’t of him challenging Ryan Howard (7-for-38 off Pedro) or Prince Fielder (1-for-10), but of Pedro making himself available in ways not every Met did. There was a Hispanic Heritage Night late in the 2009 season when I was meeting some friends outside the ballpark, and hustling as if from the cornfields and onto Mets Plaza to the delight of pregame loiterers like myself was none other than No. 25, making an appearance Elias didn’t notch. Somebody needed him to pose with a sponsor. Pedro was happy to head outside and do it. He smiled for the camera. He smiled for and waved to the Mets fans who recognized him (the only person in full uniform, he was easy to spot). Barely a couple of weeks later, during the final weekend that season, amid a loooooong rain delay, a knot of fans nestled in the Bullpen Plaza was greeted by a Met who usually claimed the vicinity as his home turf. It was Pedro again. He wasn’t coming to chase us away. He came out to say hi and offer autographs and make fans feel good they rooted for this guy’s team.

I was reminded as I scrolled through social media after learning of Pedro’s passing that he was around again this September, for the most recent Hispanic Heritage Month. A native of Puerto Rico, Feliciano was on hand to represent his homeland and say hi one more time. He posed for pictures and signed whatever items were handed him and brightened the night for those who probably couldn’t believe it had suddenly been eight years since Pedro pitched here. He always pitched here, it seemed.

6 comments to The Constant of Our Times

  • eric1973

    “He achieved the rare status of 21st-century Met reliever who you remember well and without rancor.”

    Pedro was always there, and was always effective.

    You said it, sir.

  • Seth

    I was very sorry to hear this, 45 is way too young. As a Met, PP was always a reliable relief. And he didn’t do weird things like beat up his family in the clubhouse. RIP.

  • open the gates

    It’s become very obvious in the last few years how valuable a good, durable middle reliever is in the major leagues. Feliciano wasn’t flashy, but he got the job done against the best players on the planet. And he did it with class, something also not to be taken for granted these days. Rest in peace, Pedro. Very sad news.

  • Matt in DE

    I always had an affinity for Pedro for being a constant and also for us having the same exact birthdate (8/25/76). Definitely too soon to lose a Citi Field Met.

  • Eric

    I guess Feliciano’s passing is related to the heart problem he was diagnosed with at the end of his career.

  • dmg

    in the last few years at shea i had seats in lower-level right field, right at the far edge of the section. my son and i liked them because we could look down into the mets bullpen, see who was warming up, etc.
    very often in 2008, of course, it was feliciano. as they were heading into the game, one or another reliever would often toss a last warm-up ball up to the stands — we got several that way. pedro would do it nonchalantly, acknowledging our encouragement but already focused on the task at hand. he’d have a small smile that didn’t feel so much for us, but more like some internal recognition at this wild way he made a living.
    always felt manuel overused him. but then, manuel overused everyone, didn’t he.
    RIP Pedro.