Mets to retire Keith's No. 17 on July 9

January 12th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Beloved by millions for his contributions to a championship, his memorable left-handed swing, his defensive prowess and his decades-long career as a broadcaster, Keith Hernandez is about to receive the most exclusive honor the Mets can bestow. The team announced Tuesday that it plans to retire Hernandez’s No. 17 during a July 9 ceremony at Citi Field.

“I’m thrilled,” Hernandez said in a statement. “This is truly a special honor that lasts beyond a lifetime.”

Hernandez will become the fourth player and the sixth individual to have his number retired by the Mets, joining Tom Seaver (No. 41), Mike Piazza (No. 31), Jerry Koosman (No. 36), Gil Hodges (No. 14), and Casey Stengel (No. 37). In addition, No. 42 is retired across baseball for Jackie Robinson.

Although Hernandez spent only seven of his 17 big league seasons with the Mets, he continues to have a significant impact on the organization to this day. Coming to the team in a 1983 trade, Hernandez gave the Mets instant credibility as a former National League MVP. He was one of the catalysts behind New York’s rapid rise to contention in the mid-1980s, then one of the anchors of their 1986 World Series championship team.

Over his seven seasons in Queens, Hernandez made three All-Star teams and won five Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger, slashing .297/.387/.429 with 80 homers and 159 doubles. He became the franchise’s first captain in 1987 and entered the Mets Hall of Fame at Shea Stadium a decade later. Between the Mets and the Cardinals, who inducted him into their team Hall of Fame last summer, Hernandez amassed a record 11 Gold Gloves at first base.

In the past, the Mets stood by an unwritten policy that they would only retire the numbers of players who reached the National Baseball Hall of Fame -- a select club that for years included only Seaver, and eventually Piazza as well. Team officials softened that stance several years ago, deciding to retire Koosman’s No. 36 in a gesture that opened the door for players like Hernandez. Others, such as Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter and David Wright, could follow in subsequent years.

“The retirement of Keith Hernandez’s number 17 is one of the most joyous announcements in Mets franchise history,” tweeted Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose, a member of the club’s Hall of Fame committee that makes decisions on retired numbers. “Long time coming, but just perfect in conjunction with the upcoming 60th anniversary season. Bravo to the soul of a championship team.”

Added team owner Steve Cohen, in a statement: “We made a promise to continue celebrating and honoring our tremendous history and this is another deserving step in that direction. Congratulations, Keith.”

In retirement, Hernandez has only further endeared himself to Mets fans, both as a broadcaster and a notable pop culture figure. Since 1999, he has served as an analyst during Mets games, doing so alongside Gary Cohen and Ron Darling on SNY since 2006. Hernandez is also well-known for his role on a “Seinfeld” episode in 1992 -- though it’s worth noting that his number comes on the strength of his baseball accomplishments, not anything off the field.

“I was very emotional when Steve called to let me know about the number retirement,” Hernandez said. “This is the highest honor an organization can bestow upon a player. I also want to thank Mets fans, who have treated me like family since I arrived in 1983.”