During their festivities for Old Timers’ Day at Citi Field today, the Mets made a big surprise announcement: The team has retired #24 for the legendary Willie Mays.
One of baseball’s inner-circle Hall of Fame players, Mays spent most of the 1972 season and all of the 1973 season as a Met. That marked a return to New York City, the city where his spectacular career began as a member of the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco.
Before joining the Mets, Mays had been promised by then-owner Joan Payson. But after his retirement and her passing, the number retirement never came to fruition. The 91-year-old Mays wasn’t able to attend the announcement, but he did offer some thoughts on the honor:
“I want to thank Steve and Alex Cohen for making this day possible and embracing Mets history,” Mays said. “I can never forget the way it felt to return to New York to play for all the loyal Mets fans. I’m tremendously proud I ended my career in Queens with the Mets during the ’73 World Series. It’s an honor to have my number retired in my two favorite cities – New York and San Francisco. New York was a magical place to play baseball.”