Mets introduce Hall of Fame Class of 2021

Matlack, Darling, Alfonzo honored for careers in Queens

July 31st, 2021

NEW YORK -- Combined, the tenures of Jon Matlack, Ron Darling and Edgardo Alfonzo spanned 24 of the Mets’ first 41 seasons, from some of the franchise’s most memorable postseason successes to its most bitter disappointments. Along the way, they all became integral parts of Mets history.

That is why the franchise inducted Matlack, Darling and Alfonzo into the Mets Hall of Fame on Saturday, making them the 28th, 29th and 30th players, respectively, to receive that honor. In addition, the son of original Met Al Jackson, Reggie, accepted the Hall’s Achievement Award on behalf of his late father.

The ceremony was originally intended to take place last summer, before the coronavirus pandemic forced its postponement.

“I didn’t really realize until I got the call that I was going in the Hall of Fame last year that I do have a place here, a place of history in this organization,” Darling said. “I have a place in the history of this organization. You don’t think about things like that. You don’t think about legacies or any of that stuff while you’re living your life. But when something like that happens, it really makes me sit back and say, ‘Wow, I’m really honored that they would think of me in that way.’”

Darling said he was “overjoyed” at the induction, which seemed to be the prevailing emotion around Citi Field. To introduce the inductees, the Mets invited luminaries such as Mike Piazza, Bobby Valentine, Ed Kranepool, Keith Hernandez, Gary Cohen, Carlos Baerga and Rey Ordóñez.

“I was waiting one year for this moment,” Alfonzo said. “When you hear news like that, tears came to my eyes. My wife, she was worried about me. She said, ‘Did something happen?’ I said, ‘No, don’t worry, something good happened!’”

Matlack, 71, starred for the Mets throughout the 1970s, joining Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman in one of the finest rotations in franchise history. The 1972 National League Rookie of the Year, Matlack still owns the fourth-lowest career ERA (3.03) by a Mets starter behind Jacob deGrom, Seaver and R.A. Dickey.

Darling, 60, may be better known these days as an SNY analyst, but he was also an integral part of the Mets’ 1980s rotations and their ’86 World Series championship. Overall, he won 99 games for the Mets with a 3.50 ERA.

Younger fans grew up rooting for Alfonzo, 47, a stalwart of the late '90s and early 2000s Mets teams that became the first in franchise history to earn consecutive postseason berths. Alfonzo ranks fifth in franchise history in hits, sixth in doubles and 11th in on-base percentage, while also having given New York excellent defense at multiple infield positions.

Now, those three are linked forever as the Mets Hall of Fame Class of 2021.

“I feel like I’m more of a big deal now at 71 than I was at 27 or 28,” Matlack said, laughing. “I guess back when you’re playing, you don’t spend as much time focusing on things that happened. And when you reflect back on it years later, other people have flavored what has happened. It takes on a different color, and it’s really special. I’m truly honored to be part of this group. Going into the Mets Hall of Fame, it’s something I’ll treasure forever, no doubt.”

Help for Tanner

The family of another Mets alumnus, Howard Johnson, continues to seek help for his two-year-old grandson, Tanner, who recently lost part of his left foot in a lawnmower accident. The family is soliciting donations through a GoFundMe to help pay for Tanner’s medical bills, which will include multiple surgeries and hospital stays.