The Mets announced that they did not tender Wilmer Flores a contract, which effectively ended his tenure with the organization. The team announced the decision in a six-word tweet that might’ve been overlooked among all the Robinson Cano trade rumors that were swirling at the time.
Flores deserved better than such a cold, simplistic tweet from an organization he joined as a 16-year-old from Venezuela, and if anyone deserved a proper sendoff, it was him. Flores always seemed to have a knack for sending the fans home happy when a walk-off win was there for the taking. Even though fans haven’t had much to cheer about at Citi Field the past few years, there was never more of a buzz in the crowd than when Flores came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings.
Flores will probably be known as one of the more unique Mets to play for the organization. Both the night he cried on the field and the home that followed two days later will forever be remembered in Mets history. Even with all of the drama on the field, by all accounts Flores is a genuinely nice guy and embraced the fans who supported him both at his lowest and at his most euphoric moments as a Met.
That whirlwind week at the end of July in 2015 covered every emotion in the spectrum for both fans and players alike, and Flores had a starring role in the drama. The walk-off home run he hit that week is probably his most famous, but as we all know, he had many more to come. He passed David Wright and became the franchise leader in walk-off RBIs. Him getting a Gatorade bath became a common occurrence, which SNY’s Steve Gelbs acknowledged after the news broke.
My dry cleaner just lost a lot of business. Best of luck to Wilmer Flores, one of the truly great guys in the game. pic.twitter.com/VkozLihKBK— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) November 30, 2018
So now, as we prepare to say goodbye to Flores, let’s take a look back at all the times Gelbs needed a trip to the dry cleaners courtesy of Wilmer Flores.
September 8, 2014: Mets vs. Rockies
Mets fans did not have much to cheer about at the end of 2014 besides Jacob deGrom’s Rookie of the Year Campaign. They still didn’t know what to make of this young, tall shortstop, but he gave everyone a reason to cheer in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the ninth. With a runner on third, a home run was not needed, and Flores hit a ball to shallow center. Curtis Granderson tagged anyway, and with the throw offline, the Mets won the ballgame and Flores picked up his first walk-off RBI.
The next one, of course, came in 2015, and no, it wasn’t that one. Flores actually had quite a knack for walk-offs that year, long before that warm July night against the Nationals.
May 26, 2015: Mets vs. Phillies
The Mets got off to a hot start that year, but once injuries started to set in, the team had a tough time scoring runs. Jacob deGrom pitched a gem, but when Hansel Robles blew the save, Flores’s heroics were needed. He stepped to the plate on this night with the game tied at four in the bottom of the tenth. There were two outs and runners in scoring position, so a sacrifice fly would not suffice in this situation. Instead Flores lined a single into left, and his teammates mobbed him on the field again.
June 15, 2015: Mets vs. Blue Jays
Less than a month later, Flores was at it again. In the bottom of the eleventh, he came to bat with Lucas Duda on second in a 3-3 tie—again with two outs. He hit a ground ball up the middle to score a hustling Duda and send everyone home happy.
July 31, 2015: Mets vs. Nationals
Flores picked a good night to hit his first walk-off home run. No words are needed this for this one, the tug on the shirt says it all.
August 13, 2016: Mets vs. Padres
It took over a year for more heroics, and this one required some luck from the Padres. With a 2-2 tie and one out in the eleventh, Flores hit a ground ball. Despite having the opportunity to turn a double play, the Padres instead threw home. The wide throw allowed Neil Walker to score, and the Mets walked off with a 3-2 win.
July 22, 2017: Mets vs. Athletics
On Thor bobblehead night, it was Flores who brought the thunder. After Zack Wheeler had a shaky start the Mets needed a comeback. They chipped away until Lucas Duda tied the game in the eighth. The next inning, Flores hit the second walk-off home run of his career, earning him another Gatorade shower from his teammates.
April 15, 2018: Mets vs. Brewers
This year, Flores had more walk-off RBIs than in any other year of his career. The first came early in the season on a very cold day in April. In the bottom of the ninth, he was up to his old tricks again and delivered another laser of a home run that landed in a similar spot to the one against the Nationals. Afterwards, he admitted he was cold and just wanted everyone to get out of there. Mission accomplished.
May 19, 2018: Mets vs. Diamondbacks
The Mets once again hit a snag in May after a hot April, but one of the highlights of the month came off of Flores’s bat. With the game tied at four in the bottom of the ninth and runners on first and third with nobody out, it was the perfect situation for Flores to deliver. He lofted a fly ball to right to bring home a happy Brandon Nimmo, and once again Citi Field was cheering a walk-off win.
June 26, 2018: Mets vs. Pirates
June was pretty much where the Mets’ season ended, as wins were very hard to come by. There weren’t many reasons to cheer at Citi Field, but with the game tied in extras, Flores tied David Wright for the most walk-off RBIs in franchise history when he singled down the third base line to bring home Michael Conforto. That prompted Gary Cohen to dub him The King of the Walk-off.
Mets vs. Phillies: July 9, 2018
Fans did not know it at the time, but this wound up being the last time Flores brought his walk-off magic to Citi Field. He came up as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the tenth, and he made Mets history when he knocked a ball off the foul pole for the tenth walk-off RBI of his career.
And here are all of the walk-offs gathered into one place:
Wilmer Flores might not have been the most athletic, or the fastest, or the best fielder on the team, but he provided many memorable moments for the Mets over the years. He also etched his name in Mets history when he went 6-for-6 on July 3, 2016, against the Cubs. He and Edgardo Alfonzo are the only Mets to go 6-for-6 in a game.
Flores’s non-tender is a reminder of how cruel this game can be. It was Flores who reminded us that there is humanity in the game, though, and that’s something Mets fans won’t soon forget. Thank you for all the memories, Wilmer—and for the reminder that sometimes there is crying in baseball.