Eight years after calling him from the bullpen for the last time, the New York Mets decided Johnny be good enough.
The Mets confirmed on Twitter this morning the club's Hall of Fame will grow by one member this season with the addition of longtime reliever and New York City native John Franco. The southpaw in the Sanitation t-shirt will be enshrined in a ceremony on Sunday, June 3 while the Mets are at Citi Field playing the St. Louis Cardinals.
Franco accrued 276 of his 424 career saves in over 14 seasons as a Met, making him the club's all-time saves leader with a comfortable 116-save lead over the guy in second place and his successor on the closer throne, Armando Benitez. He arrived prior to the 1990 season along with Don Brown in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds that gave the Reds Randy Myers and Kip Gross and gave Mets fans heartburn for the next decade, courtesy of Franco's penchant for making save opportunities a lot more interesting than they ever needed to be. Franco also holds the distinction of being the last Met to be officially named team captain, which bestowed him with the ceremonial "C" on his jersey and a place next to Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter as the only captains in club history.
His induction will be the first since 2010 when the Mets called Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Frank Cashen, and Davey Johnson home. That's an interesting distinction, as Franco becomes the first post-1986 Met to receive this honor. Whether that closes the door on any other 1986 characters is open for debate, but it does imply that we may start putting the likes of the late 1990 teams into their proper historical perspective -- just in time for Mike Piazza's first year of eligibility for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame next year.
But we're not here to talk about the guy who made the number 31 famous-er in Mets lore, but instead the guy who made that number famous in the first place. Like him or hate him, the boy from Brooklyn has always been one of the more charismatic characters in team history as well as one of its best relief pitchers. Hindsight is kind to his contributions on and off the field in his tenure with the Mets, even if isn't always supported by the anecdotal evidence from that one time he loaded the bases with the bottom of the order and let in two runs and... GODDAMNIT, FRANCO! JUST GET THE SAVE ALREADY!
His place in the team's history was never really in doubt. The Mets will just make it official on June 3.