They got the Buckner ball. That may be the best thing about the Mets' Hall of Fame, which was opened for the season-ticket holders and VIPs who attended yesterday's Citi Field workout.
There are some tremendous artifacts on display in the room fashioned off the Jackie Robinson Rotunda: Casey Stengel's bright blue Mets blazer, Tom Seaver's 1966 contract for $500 with the Jacksonville Suns, a 1980 scouting report on a prospect named Darryl Strawberry.
But the ball that rolled through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series just arrived 10 days ago, and it was a major get for the Mets to put in their new display.
"I really wanted a 'Wow' factor," said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, who stopped by for a brief tour early Sunday morning. "We wanted it to be like a real museum, a special place. And I think we've achieved that."
The Hall will open for real Monday when the Mets open their 2010 season, the second at Citi Field. Wilpon said the reason the team waited until now to open the Hall of Fame was the hectic pace of opening a new stadium last year and working out all those kinks.
"Now we have stuff we can do to enhance the experience this year," he said.
The space holds 21 individual Hall of Fame plaques, with four more coming this year. The late general manager Frank Cashen, former manager Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden and Strawberry, all keys to the 1986 team, will be inducted Aug. 1.
There are video highlights of the 1969 and 1986 championship teams, plus a few interactive video displays with information on the history and records of the team. There are displays of Mets uniforms through the years, plus mementos from players along the 49 seasons.
Along one wall is a display case with a few signature baseballs, including one in particular in the middle that took a great deal of effort to obtain.
All the personal items are on loan to the Mets, with many of the collectors local. The team did have to send representatives to Florida to acquire artifacts from Ralph Kiner and Joy Murphy, widow of longtime broadcaster Bob Murphy.
But the Buckner ball - which has the inscription from Mookie Wilson: "To Arthur, the ball that won it for us," a note to former baseball executive Arthur Richman, who possessed the ball for many years - was a bit trickier.
According to Tina Mannix, senior marketing director for the Mets, the ball once was owned by actor Charlie Sheen, who sold it to its current owner, songwriter and collector Seth Swirsky.
"That play is really the most popular moment in Met history," Mannix said.