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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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6 for 5

“All right!”

I can’t quote exactly, but the words above were more or less my reactions to immortality stamping its approval on the permanent records of Met icons and elevating them to the highest level visible to the general baseball public. We already knew our guys —

Tom Seaver, before posting the magic 98.84% no other starting pitcher has ever matched, in ’92;

Bob Murphy, before the Frick picked up on what he’d been saying into his mic all those summer nights, in ’94;

Gary Carter, before it could be discerned that an institutional choice between bronze logos would be necessary, in ’03;

Mike Piazza, before a fourth go-round certified him as “durable,” “prolific” and “power-hitting”, in ’16;

and Gil Hodges, after multiple generations had failed to recognize what he did and who he was, until all was remedied and forgiven in December of ’21

— were greats. Now nobody else had an excuse to not know. Our guys were Hall of Famers.

A check mark on at least 75% of Baseball Writers Association of America ballots will usher a player into the Hall of Fame. On Tuesday night, David Wright was revealed to have received 6.2% of the BBWAA vote, and I pumped a fist. I think I added a “Yeah!” despite the voting not being all Wright. It didn’t get him into the Hall à la 2024 electees Adrian Beltre, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer, and it didn’t get him within conceivable plaque gallery reach like his teammates Billy Wagner (73.8% with a year left) and Carlos Beltran (57.1% and the echo of banging trash cans fading), but it kept him in the conversation. Sometimes you can’t ask for more than to be talked about a little.

When David was in his prime, which lasted about a decade, I wondered how his Hall of Fame case might unfold. I was entitled to Mets fan bias, yet I wasn’t sure I’d be shouting to the heavens that an injustice was being done if he wasn’t collecting scads of ticked boxes when his time under the microscope came. It’s like that when you live with a player day in and day out.

David made outs slightly more than seven of every ten at-bats.
Why couldn’t have David gotten a hit there?

David was known to once in a while throw around or beneath the grasp of his first baseman.
Geez, David, c’mon!

David couldn’t lift an entire his team on his shoulders when that team insisted on weighing itself down with underachievement.
I’m mad at all of them — yes, even David.

He never put up video game numbers, but he was always the real deal.

He did everything well and conducted himself better than that, still I never convinced myself he was quite on the level of a Schmidt, a Brett, a Chipper Jones, if you’ll pardon the expression. Those, to me, were Hall of Fame third basemen. I imagined some clever analytic argument would be floated on his behalf, and I could picture groupthink developing in the same way it’s evolved for players it never occurred to me were Hall of Famers when I experienced them when I watched them actually play, and, my Mets fan bias notwithstanding, I figured I’d kind of roll my eyes at the whole exercise. He’s not Mike Schmidt. He’s David Wright.

Then David’s prime screeched to an injury-riddled halt and I stopped wondering about his Hall of Fame case until the Hall of Fame released a ballot that included his name, and my prevailing Hall of Fame desire became 5 for 5: get those 5% of the votes that would keep the last Met who will ever wear 5 alive in the greater baseball consciousness for another year. Don’t let him be one and done. Don’t tell me the career of the only long-term everyday player who played every day as a Met until he physically couldn’t and never played in any other garb (besides that of Team USA) didn’t at least hint at that level. Don’t tell me nobody besides us noticed our guy, our Captain.

My desire was satisfied by a margin of four votes. Yeah. All right. Had five writers who threw him a check mark not thought highly of David’s stats or comps, or remembered warmly he was what he was as a third baseman/run producer while also being the standup guy they needed whenever they needed an honest quote, he’d be off next year’s ballot. Hanging around in the “all other” discussion every December and January carries its own burden of limited expectation and likely disappointment, but from the outside looking in, it seems preferable to being told to take your Silver Sluggers, your Gold Gloves, your All-Star selections, your quiet leadership and all the rest of your selfless persona and move along.

Less than 5% for No. 5 would have been the moral equivalent of spinal stenosis. No chance to change minds and garner a touch of momentum winter to winter. No chance to wave Scott Rolen’s name around and reason, Wright’s no Schmidt, but there was this other Philadelphia third baseman to whom he was pretty similar, and if Rolen’s in the Hall, well… No chance to be considered at all unless a Contemporary Era-type committee became intrigued by his case down the road, maybe far down the road, when “contemporary” implied an era way beyond his. No chance that wasn’t random that David Wright would be mentioned by anybody outside the walls of Metsopotamia, where we don’t require anybody else’s stinking validation to tell us who our greats are. Yet it sure is nice to know that slightly more than a bare minimum of professional baseball observers remembered there was once a lifetime Met who was on a path that, had all continued in decent health, could have led to Cooperstown.

6 comments to 6 for 5

  • Seth

    “…we don’t require anybody else’s stinking validation”

    Spot on, there. I mean, the HOF was fun to visit and I guess membership means a lot to those who get elected. But it certainly will never change how I feel about a player I loved.

  • Ken K. in NJ.

    David couldn’t even hit a G Dam sacrifice fly when his team needed him most…
    (Sorry, but I still can’t forget that at bat. I also couldn’t figure out how to use italics in a comment).

    ….Bob Murphy, before the Frick picked up on what he’d been saying into his mic all those summer nights, in ’94;

    You lost me here. What had Murph been saying all those nights that Frick picked up on? Or was it something to do with the Mets winning the damn thing, which of course was just one night.

  • eric1973

    Hey Ken, if you are referring to David’s at-bat with Daniel Murphy twice on 3B with less than 2 out, and he struck out on 3 pitches each 3 feet out of the strike zone.

    He cost us the playoffs and he lost me then, as that moment was too big for him.

    Murphy was the true captain on those teams, not Wright.

  • Harvey

    Hall of Very Good, not Hall of Fame.

  • Joe Nunz

    Let us not speak ill of The Captain.

    Thank you Greg, for the family version of David’s story.

    Here’s the objective observer’s take:

    Not a Cooperstown Hall of Famer, but we’ve seen no one better in Flushing.

  • Joe Nunz

    For the record, by “no one better”, I mean position players…no disrespect meant to The Franchise.