NEW YORK -- It has been 24 years since Tom Seaver entered the Hall of Fame, the first player in franchise history to have his Mets cap bronzed. Other prominent Mets have entered the Hall with different caps, including Gary Carter, Nolan Ryan and Willie Mays. But in the years since Seaver, the Mets have never come particularly close to adding another Hall of Famer they could truly call their own.
Now Mike Piazza is set to enter the Hall on Sunday, with coverage beginning on MLB Network and MLB.com at 11 a.m. ET, and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony starting live at 1:30. He has spoken often about the tug he felt as an adopted New Yorker, which made a Mets cap on his plaque the obvious choice to a complicated decision.
Given all that, legions of Piazza's fans will descend upon Cooperstown this weekend to watch his induction happen, as they should: It could be a while before another Met enters the Hall.
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Of those former Mets who will appear on the ballot over the next 10 to 15 years, including every player on the club's active roster, no one is a shoo-in Hall of Fame candidate. David Wright was once well on his way, but injuries have robbed him of future Hall of Fame consideration. No one else on the current roster is even close, even if one or more of the Mets' starting pitchers could eventually make a run at baseball immortality.
The Mets' only real chance seems to be former outfielder Carlos Beltrán, who has a polarizing history with Mets fans and a sometimes-rocky history with the club. Thanks to excellent age-38 and age-39 seasons with the Yankees, Beltran has advanced from a bubble Hall of Fame candidate to a more serious consideration. His 69.8 career Wins Above Replacement already rank higher than scores of Hall of Famers, including Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray and Harmon Killebrew. Once an elite center fielder, Beltran is also one of five players in history with at least 400 homers and 300 stolen bases, joining Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Mays and Andre Dawson.
So with Beltran's possible election, the conversation may soon turn to which cap he would wear in Cooperstown. Unlike Piazza, who grew to prominence with the Dodgers but actually played a slight majority of his career games with the Mets, Beltran has not played a significant majority of his games for anyone. He did spend more time in New York (839 games) than anywhere else, but only by a slight margin over Kansas City (795 games).
Beltran's numbers were slightly better with the Mets (.280/.369/.500) than the Royals (.287/.352/.483), but in the end, like Piazza, he will have significant input into his choice. The public hints he has given came prior to the 2013 All-Star Game, when Beltran said he "could see" himself entering the Hall as a Met.
But that's hardly a promise. Beltran has to get there first. And he still has to make that choice if and when he does. So for now, Mets fans would do well to cherish Piazza, who is set to join Seaver as their second true Hall of Famer.