Keith Hernandez is a two-time World Series champion, a former NL MVP, a member of both the Mets and St. Louis Cardinals Halls of Fame and a beloved broadcaster on SNY.
On Tuesday, Hernandez added another line to his resume when the Mets announced they were going to retire his No. 17 in a ceremony on July 9.
On Wednesday, on a Zoom news conference to talk about that honor, Hernandez may have added a second new line to his resume: Newsbreaker.
As he was talking about the Mets’ growing efforts under owner Steve Cohen to celebrate their history, Hernandez seemed to break the news that the team is going to hold its first Old-Timers’ Day since the 1990s this summer.
"The fact that we're going to have an Old-Timers’ game again," Hernandez said. "They're going to bring in 50 players, I understand. That is fantastic."
The Mets have not announced the return of Old-Timers’ Day. Team president Sandy Alderson was asked on the same Zoom call if they plan to in 2022.
"I think that you know that is certainly on our agenda," Alderson said. "And to some extent, whether and when we have that Old-Timers’ Day is going to depend on the schedule otherwise and what we have in the way of a number of games and so forth. But it's definitely on the agenda. To the extent that it gets on the calendar itself, we'll make sure everybody's aware of it."
Before Alderson’s measured answer, Hernandez laughed and said, "I feel like Ralph Kramden!"
(That reference was to the classic Jackie Gleason character from "The Honeymooners" sitcom of the 1950s, who when asked how he kept getting himself into certain hilarious and difficult situations, replied: "It’s simple. I have a BIG MOUTH!")
Hernandez probably shouldn’t worry too much. The Mets under Cohen have succeeded in honoring their past — the team turned 60 this year — and Cohen has stated on Twitter that he wants to bring back Old-Timers’ Day.
The club retired Jerry Koosman’s No. 36 last season, will unveil the long-awaited Tom Seaver statue before their March 31 season opener, and before a game against Miami will make Hernandez the sixth Mets person to have his uniform number retired.
Hernandez, who was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Cardinals Hall last summer, joins Seaver (41), Mike Piazza (31), Koosman (36) and managers Casey Stengel (37) and Gil Hodges (14).
Hernandez, 68, played for the Mets from 1983-89 and was the de facto captain of the 1986 World Series winning team. He was named the actual team captain the following season, the first in Mets history.
Hernandez said the number retirement was revealed to him by Cohen in a surprise phone call on Tuesday.
"I was caught completely off guard," Hernandez said. "His name popped up on my screen. I'm going, ‘Oh, OK, maybe he wants to talk about the team.’ So we had around a 10-minute conversation about the events that have happened — I think positive events in the offseason for the Mets — and then he said, ‘Well, this is not the reason why I'm calling’ and then he dropped the bomb on me. Caught me completely by surprise. I had no idea and it's just kind of soaking in and sinking in now. The import of this. It is really, if you think of it, the highest honor that an organization can give to a player."
Some Mets fans may be wondering why it took so long. Hernandez said he is not among that group.
"It wasn't something that crossed my mind very often," he said. "When they retired Koosman’s number, I thought that things were kind of going in the right direction, that maybe it could happen."
It happened. And it seems as if more is going to happen. Sooner or later.
The 14 Mets who wore No. 17 after Keith Hernandez left the team following the 1989 season:
David Cone 1991-92
Jeff McKnight 1993
Bret Saberhagen 1994-95
Brent Mayne 1996
Luis Lopez 1997-99
Mike Bordick 2000
Kevin Appier 2001
Satoru Komiyama 2002
Graeme Lloyd 2003
Wilson Delgado 2004
Dae-Sung Koo 2005
Jose Lima 2006
David Newhan 2007
Fernando Tatis 2008-10