New York: JOSÉ…..JOSÉ….JOSÉ…. It was about José Reyes at Shea Stadium and Citi Field during his tenure with the New York Mets. Wednesday, the 37-year old and four-time All-Star officially announced his retirement with a message on Twitter.
“Mets fans, what can I say,” Reyes wrote on social media. “We never got the ring we hoped we would get. But I can’t imagine playing in front of any better fans in the whole world.”
And after stints with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Rockies, Reyes, a National League batting champion in 2011, with a .283 lifetime batting average, returned to New York Mets in 2018 to finish his career.
Reyes sat out all of last year with hopes a team would give him a call during this abbreviated 2020 season as he stayed in shape and focused on a post baseball career in the music industry.
It was not a great return in his last stint as a Met. Reyes hoped to spark the Mets in need of an infielder. Fans were looking for Jose Reyes that came in his debut season of 2003 and what followed.
But, the legs were not the same. The eye at the plate was not the same. A domestic violence incident in Hawaii, charged with assaulting his wife was unfortunate. The charges were later dropped and fans still cheered JOSÉ…JOSÉ…JOSÉ.
They never stopped to cheer for the shortstop who finished a career with the Mets as their all-time leader in triples and steals, 33rd all-time in the MLB career stolen base category.
Not a Hall of Famer, but to fans he was. A kid from the Dominican Republic, New York his home, still is, with a residence in Long Island. He built a home and baseball training center on the far end of the Island.
“I always will be there for the kids,” he said to yours truly during that last tenure with the Mets. “I want to help them. I was a kid once,”
Thing is, José Reyes was always that kid in the Mets’ clubhouse. He was also a leader and never showed the quit. Forgive this writer with vouching for Reyes in that last game as a Met before free agency in 2011
Then, Reyes pulled himself out of the lineup during that game at Citi Field and secured a NL batting title with a .337 average. Many did not approve. On this end, there was nothing wrong in securing a batting title and the way it was done.
You get to that moment and do your best to make sure that title is secure. You can’t take that away from Reyes. You bypass the incident in Hawaii. You admired the hustle, ability to put on the uniform, and respect that came from teammates on and off the field.
There was a bond in the Mets clubhouse that final year. José Reyes was in the center of it all.
A young Amed Rosario, and Reyes became his mentor. The veterans Asdrúbal Cabrera, José Bautista, and Wilmer Flores, there was that bond with the Latino player and others. Reyes learned to speak English and could handle the pressure of the New York media and postgame interview.
Jay Horwitz, longtime Mets’ Media Relations director, now Vice President of Alumni Relations and team historian, smiled when Reyes had his final stint in uniform at Citi Field.
Horwitz and Reyes always had a bond and the two were side-by-side when Reyes returned to Citi Field for his last stint. Reyes took the heat about pulling himself out of the lineup that got him the batting title and Horwitz was by his side as the questions came.
“He could do it all,” David Wright said. He, and Reyes got to play side-by side for a final time on the field at Citi Field In late September of 2018. That was the final career game also for the Mets’ captain. Wright and Reyes, two homegrown Mets that would define their franchise at the time.
Reyes wrote about his overall career
“As a young boy growing up in the Dominican Republic, I could have never dreamed of achieving all that I have been through this incredible game.”
He did achieve. Not a Hall of Famer, perhaps a future lock as a Mets Hall of Fame inductee. That smile and his intense way of playing the game. We will remember that.
And José Reyes, remember this, he will always be a part of New York baseball with the New York Mets.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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