For Al Leiter, even if it feels like yesterday that the Mets made it to the 2000 World Series, he’s a physical reminder of how much time has actually passed.
Leiter’s son, Jack, was born earlier that year and is now a 23-year-old top pitcher seeking promotion to the Texas Rangers.
Saturday was the day the older Reiter returned to the majors once more as one of four Mets Hall of Famers in the ceremony before the Mets lost 2-1 to the Blue Jays at Citi Field. was in attendance. A hand to surprise his father by catching the ceremonial first pitch.
“In the last four years with the Mets, whenever I got the chance, I would take him out and have him play wiffle ball or something on the field early in the game or after the game,” Reiter said. Due to his double-A team obligations, he will not attend the ceremony. “I could tell early on that his son was into the game. [His birth] The year going to the World Series was even more special. “
Reiter (1998-2004), former third baseman Howard Johnson (1985-93), and broadcasters Gary Cohen (television) and Howie Rose (radio) were awarded commemorative blue jackets and plaques and were awarded City Added to Field Hall of Fame Museum. For the writer, this is another chapter in a story that began as a young Mets fan in Toms River, New Jersey.
“It felt like a dream come true to finally get the chance to go to Queens at 32 and play for the team I was rooting for as a kid for seven years,” said the 57-year-old writer. .
“I’ve been a Mets fan since I was born. My dad was born in Manhattan, grew up on Long Island, loved Casey Stengel, and that was the beginning of the Leiter family. That was it.”
Johnson is one of only four players in MLB history to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in at least three seasons. He was a member of the Mets’ last winning team in 1986.
“The fact that my whole family came here to witness this is something I will never forget,” Johnson said. “It’s always nice to be able to interact with the fans in some way. That’s what makes New York stand out. I got goosebumps the first time I walked into Shea Stadium.”
Johnson (1984 Tigers) and Leiter (1992-93 Blue Jays) both won World Series titles elsewhere before coming to the Mets as the missing piece. Reiter’s biggest personal moment was a two-hit shutout in the 1999 National League wild-card tie-break game.
“If you’re trapped and you feel good about what you’re doing, that’s pretty exciting,” Reiter said of the moment. “Our team was starting to feel the mojo and it was building.”
On Saturday, Johnson got a little bit of the big-game emotion back.
“I probably won’t go a day without thinking about playing at that level when I was 25,” Johnson said. “Every time I get out of bed, it reminds me of a long time ago. They’re two different people. The older I get, the further away I am from that person. I want to know who was still playing.” ”
The Mets made sure fans knew Reiter and Johnson by name for decades to come.