By Zach Gewelb
David Wright said goodbye to the Mets’ faithful Saturday night at Citi Field, playing in one last game before riding off into the sunset.
It may not have been the end Wright had envisioned earlier in his career, but its doubtful he would change a thing about his final night as a player.
Wright took the field as the starting third baseman one last time and received two plate appearances — drawing a walk in the first inning and popping up to first base in the fourth — before being pulled in the fifth inning. Manager Mickey Callaway removed Wright from the game, giving the captain a chance to wave goodbye to the announced crowd of 43,928 fans.
“It’s so kind and it’s so generous and it’s so, at points for me, undeserving,” Wright said after the game. “When you see the stadium packed like that, there [are] no words to describe the feeling of walking out there and having your name chanted and seeing the signs.”
Players and coaches from both teams tipped their caps to Wright, honoring a 14-year career that was cut short due to injuries — namely spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Wright had gone through hell to get back into playing shape. He fought for nearly two years with a goal of returning as a full time player, before coming to the realization that his body simply couldn’t handle the every day rigors of life as a ball player anymore.
“I held up good until I saw Mickey come out and then it kind of hit me,” Wright said of the moment he was taken out of the game. “Then I turn around and see our bullpen come onto the field and all the guys from our dugout come on to the field and, for a split second, I looked around the stadium and saw all the signs and heard the chants and everything kind of hits you at once.”
Before the game, Wright caught the ceremonial first pitch thrown by his 2-year-old daughter, Olivia.
After the game, the team played a 3 1/2 minute video tribute on the big screen beyond the center field fence that chronicled his career in the Mets’ organization. From his days as a minor leaguer, to his first MLB hit, to playing in the 2015 World Series, Wright was reminded of the highlights of his Mets’ tenure before reciting a speech to the fans in attendance.
“This is love,” Wright told the crowd after the Mets’ 1-0 victory in 13 innings. “I can’t say anything else — this is love.”
In a season filled with disappointment, Mets fans cheered for their departing captain like there was no tomorrow as the David Wright era officially came to an end in Queens.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe