When I was 9 years old, in 1969, the Mets, Knicks and Jets all won World Championships. This rooting for New York sports teams-thing was easy!
I'll spare everyone my whining about the subsequent 46 years which has netted just one championship, the Mets dominating, pulsating 1986 season and post-season. You all know the pain and suffering only too well.
The residual effect however is much greater than the number of titles my teams have collected (yes, I'm talking to Yankee and Giant fans) because the successful teams of my youth are so powerfully and uniquely ensconced in my sports psyche. It all really hit home when I was running laps at my local gym. During this mind-numbing act of repetitive cardio work I had to find ways to remind myself what lap I was on. The first thing that came to mind was an uniform number association game based on my childhood sports heroes. Try this some time, pick a number and let your brain spit out the first player who comes to mind.
Before you read my list play this mind game yourself. Go 1 through 21 and name the first sports figure, past or current, who comes to mind. Don't dwell, think number, blurt name.
Ok then, here's mine;
I started my run slowly (and sort of ended slowly but that's another matter) with #1 belonging to , who else, Mookie.
#2 Why I know that Kevin Elster wore this number and came to mind, unprompted, before that guy who just retired from the Yankees, is beyond me.
#3, Duh, Bud Harrelson (Babe who?)
#4 La Grand Orange, Rusty Staub - class of '73
#5 The Glider, Ed Charles
#6 Al Weiss (If you have to ask, just please move on)
#7 Ed Kranepool (1962-79) our longest tenured Met
#8 Yogi Berra (sorry Kid, Yogi was around so long it's just burned in my brain but at least he was a Mets Manager)
#9 JC Martin (I swear this one even troubles me)
#10 Walt "Clyde" Frazier
#11 Wayne Garrett
#12 Joe Willie Namath
#13 Wilt Chamberlain (only non-NYer to penetrate my sub-conscious, but the guy did score 100 points in one game!
#14 Ron Swoboda (with great apologies to Gil Hodges but the Catch was THE CATCH)
#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Doc Gooden
#17 Keith Hernandez
#18 Daryl Strawberry
#19 Bryan Trottier
#20 Tommie Agee
#21 Cleon Jones (My favorite Met of all time)
The 1969 and 1986 Mets gave us our only two championships. Perhaps this group of DeGrom, Cespedes, Familia, Harvey, d'Arnaud will someday own the subconscious of Met fans born sometime after 1980. But for this 55 year old these are my guys, my teams and my wonderful memories.
Lets Go Mets!!!