Bartolo back?! Cult hero set for Old-Timers' Day

Colón, Céspedes to join in revival of Mets' event on Aug. 27

April 1st, 2022

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Two fan favorites from the past decade are set to grace Citi Field again, as former outfielder Yoenis Céspedes and pitcher Bartolo Colón are expected to return to New York this summer for Old-Timers’ Day.

Céspedes and Colón are among roughly 60 former players who have already committed to the Aug. 27 event, according to a person with knowledge of the plans. Other confirmed attendees include Endy Chavez, Cliff Floyd, Keith Hernandez, Johan Santana, Daniel Murphy, Robin Ventura and Mookie Wilson.

Céspedes, 36, has not played since he failed to show up to a game in Aug. 2020. At the time, he had just returned from a years-long episode in which he underwent surgery on both of his heels, then fractured his ankle in an altercation with a wild boar.

Before that, Céspedes had been a popular figure at Citi Field. Coming to the Mets in a blockbuster trade at the 2015 deadline, Céspedes hit 17 home runs over 31 games that summer to propel the Mets into the playoffs. He returned to mash 31 more homers the following season, before injuries began to derail his career in 2017. Overall, Céspedes played parts of five seasons in New York, batting .279/.344/.539 with 76 homers in 316 games.

Of course, even Céspedes at the height of his Mets career was not as popular as Colón, a cult hero over three seasons with the Mets. Signed to provide rotation stability entering the 2014 season, Colón accomplished far more than that, leading the club in wins in all three of those campaigns despite being past his 40th birthday for all of them. Most famously, Colón hit the first and only home run of his career on May 7, 2016 -- the highlight of what became an All-Star season for him at age 43.

Upon leaving the Mets, Colón hooked on with the Braves, Twins and Rangers, but he did not experience much additional success. He last surfaced in the independent Mexican League in 2021, going 6-2 over 11 starts as a 48-year-old.

(No word yet on whether Colón will pitch on Old-Timers’ Day, take his hacks at the plate, or both.)

With Céspedes, Colón and Murphy set to attend, at least three members of the 2015 National League pennant winners should be present at Old-Timers’ Day. A fourth, David Wright, said that he does not plan to attend because, in his joking estimation, “I don’t consider myself old.” Several others from that club won’t be able to participate because they are still active players, although only one current Met -- Jacob deGrom -- remains from the 2015 roster.

The 1969 and ’86 World Series championship teams will also be well-represented at Old-Timers’ Day, which is returning to Queens for the first time since 1994.