The Mets delayed the start of Saturday night’s game against the Reds for 25 minutes to hold a ceremony inducting three men into their Hall of Fame. It seemed fitting since the ceremony itself was delayed by more than 14 months because of the pandemic.
"Welcome to an event that, quite frankly, is long overdue," master of ceremonies Howie Rose told the Citi Field crowd as the start of the ceremony honoring new Mets Hall of Famers Jon Matlack, Ron Darling and Edgardo Alfonzo.
Rose could have been referring to the pandemic-induced delay. He could also have been referring to the fact that the Mets hadn’t added anyone to their Hall since Mike Piazza in 2013.
The team’s previous owners — the Wilpons — attempted to rectify that when they announced the induction of Saturday’s honorees in January, 2020. The ceremony was supposed to have taken place last May.
"To me, this is a dream come true," Alfonzo said before the ceremony. "So happy for it and looking forward to getting it done with."
The Mets now have 30 people in their Hall of Fame. Some of them were on the field on Saturday night to honor their former teammates, including Piazza, Keith Hernandez and Ed Kranepool.
Just as the inductees spanned the generations, so did the honored guests the Mets invited.
Those guests included the family of original 1962 Met pitcher Al Jackson, who was posthumously presented with the Mets Hall of Fame achievement award. Jackson, who spent 50 years in the organization as a player, coach and executive, passed away in 2019 at the age of 83.
"We have the 70s, 80s and 90s represented," team president Sandy Alderson said. "And Al Jackson represented the ages. Fifty years with the Mets. Major league coach. Minor league coordinator. Front office advisor. I had the pleasure from 2011-’19 to have a locker in spring training right across from Al. I can tell you I benefitted from his wisdom, enjoyed his humor and respected the man. He was truly great. An honor to know him."
Matlack, 71, went 82-81 with a 3.03 ERA for the Mets from 1971-’77 and was a key member of the 1973 NL championship team.
"It’s a pleasure to be here," Matlack said. "They finally found a way to get me out of the woods. I’ve been living for 15 years now about four hours north in the Adirondack mountains, and it’s really nice to see the city again. This is a tremendous honor and it’s a pleasure to be here."
Darling, 60, went 99-70 with a 3.50 ERA for the Mets from 1983-’91 and has spent 16 seasons as a Mets broadcaster on SNY.
"It’s kind of weird," Darling said. "The Hall of Fame — to come celebrate it in a place I work. It’s kind of a funny thing. But I’m so proud and so happy."
Alfonzo, 47, was with the Mets from 1995-2002 and hit .292 with 120 home runs and an .812 OPS.
"I received the news and tears came to my eyes because when I played here, I never thought about Hall of Fame or nothing," Alfonzo said. "My wife, she was worried. She asked if something happened. I said, ‘No, don’t worry, something good happened.’ "
Other guests from Alfonzo’s era included former manager Bobby Valentine — who received a huge ovation — and former infielders Rey Ordonez and Carlos Baerga.
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