The top moments of David Wright's career
NEW YORK -- The arc of David Wright’s career was unlike any in Mets history -- from his productive start to the injuries that later defined him and, finally, to the return that allowed him to author a piece of his own ending.
Although Wright's teams often struggled around him, he carried them to greater heights, setting franchise records for hits, doubles, RBIs, walks and runs scored. Yet even those numbers can’t describe his career quite as well as the top moments from it.
July 21, 2004: Big league debut
The 38th overall pick in the 2001 Draft, Wright took a little less than three years to climb the Mets' Minor League ladder, debuting in front of 30,227 fans at Shea Stadium. Though he went 0-for-4 that night against the Expos, Wright doubled off Zach Day one day later for his first career hit.
Aug. 9, 2005: Flashing leather
A two-time Gold Glover, Wright made perhaps the two most memorable defensive plays of his career within a two-month span in 2005. First, in a June game in Seattle, he dove into the stands, leaping off both feet to snare a Raul Ibanez popup.
Two months later in San Diego, Wright made a barehanded grab in shallow left field to rob Brian Giles of what seemed like a sure bloop single. The play won MLB.com's 2005 This Year in Baseball Play of the Year Award.
May 19, 2006: Exit Sandman
The Mets' ascension as a Major League powerhouse was all but complete by May 2006, but they still had not overcome their reputation as the crosstown Yankees' little brothers. Wright did his part to erase the stigma with a walk-off single in the year's first Subway Series game, blasting a Mariano Rivera cutter to the center-field wall. The Mets won, 7-6.
July 11, 2006: Hey now, you're an All-Star
It took Wright until his third season to make the first of his seven All-Star Games. It then took him all of two innings to make an impact; starting at third base and batting sixth, Wright clubbed a Kenny Rogers pitch over the fence at PNC Park. He went on to hit safely in six of his seven career All-Star Games, batting .389 with a .977 OPS for the National League.
March 17, 2009: Comeback kid
Three outs from elimination in the World Baseball Classic, Wright hit a walk-off, two-run single off Fernando Cabrera to stun Puerto Rico, advancing Team USA into the semifinals. In the game's immediate aftermath, Wright called the moment one of his career highlights.
"That's right up there at the top," he said. "I mean, you're talking about representing the United States of America. You have that across the front of your chest."
Sept. 25, 2012: Hit king
Wright didn't need any of his signature power to become the Mets' all-time hits leader, hustling out an infield single to pass Ed Kranepool with his 1,419th career knock. He went on to rack up a few hundred more over the next four seasons, extending his record to 1,777.
March 9, 2013: Captain America
An outspoken proponent of the World Baseball Classic, Wright solidified his "Captain America" nickname by hitting a grand slam in 2013 pool play against Team Italy. The blast kept a struggling Team USA alive, ultimately allowing the Americans to advance to the second round. Finishing 7-for-16 with 10 RBIs in Classic play, Wright had to leave early due to a ribcage injury.
March 21, 2013: O captain! My captain!
When the Mets rewarded Wright with an eight-year, $138-million contract following the 2012 season, his captaincy seemed inevitable. It happened three months later in a Spring Training ceremony; Wright followed Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and John Franco as the fourth captain in team history, and the first since Franco in 2004. In accepting the title, Wright eschewed the symbolic "C" on his jersey, preferring to keep the emphasis on the team.
Aug. 24, 2015: Welcome back, Captain
For several months of the 2015 season, the Mets were unsure if Wright would play again. Shortly after he hit the disabled list in April due to a hamstring injury, doctors discovered that Wright was suffering from spinal stenosis, a degenerative back condition. He wound up missing four months due to an injury that eventually also cost him his career.
But Wright did make it back in Aug. 2015, showing up to the Mets' team hotel the night before his return in full uniform, with a box of cookies. The next day, in his first at-bat back from the DL, he hit a home run into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park.
Oct. 30, 2015: A night to remember
Throughout Wright's career, he spoke reverently of the World Series, bemoaning how close the Mets came in 2006 only to miss out on the postseason the next eight seasons. That changed in 2015, when Wright and the Mets advanced to the Fall Classic against the Royals.
In the first World Series game in Queens in 15 years, Wright hit a go-ahead, two-run home run off Yordano Ventura to electrify the Citi Field crowd. He went on to drive in four runs in the Mets' only win of the Series.
Sept. 29, 2018: A grand farewell
Despite Wright’s comeback in 2015, his injury woes only deepened over the next three years, as he underwent neck, shoulder and back surgeries in an attempt to continue playing (and to maintain his quality of life post-retirement). Late in the 2018 season, it became clear to Wright that he could not continue, and so the Mets arranged a return for him during the season’s final weekend at Citi Field. Wright pinch-hit in Friday’s game, before playing five innings at third base the following night.
After the game, he delivered a heartfelt speech to nearly 44,000 fans at Citi, thanking them for their support and declaring: “This is love.”