Among the oddities associated with the Mets as they celebrate their 50th anniversary is that any Top 50 list can reasonably exclude nine Hall of Fame players. This is not a commentary on the franchise’s overall depth of talent so much as the desire of previous executives to stock the roster with stars whose glow was fading (Duke Snider, Richie Ashburn, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra and Willie Mays), their inability to gauge players’ passion for representing New York (Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson and Eddie Murray) and, in the case of Nolan Ryan, their impatience in developing great potential.
None of that Cooperstown Nine made a sufficient contribution to the Mets to earn a place on one man’s all-time team. Another group that achieved some degree of distinction — George Foster, Bobby Bonilla, Bret Saberhagen and Vince Coleman — was considered ineligible for this exercise because of a combination of ineffectiveness and indifference for their surroundings.
Others among the approximately 900 players who wore the uniform provided New York fans with four World Series appearances and hundreds of thrills in the Mets’ first half-century. They scored improbable upsets, staged stunning rallies and sustained remarkable pennant drives, writing the most colorful history of any major-league franchise conceived after 1960.
The following list is based on more than mere statistics or natural ability. It takes into consideration intangibles, length of service and dedication to the team at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium and, more recently, Citi Field. These were the most important Mets at any given time in their history.