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It's time for Mets to retire Mike Piazza's number

NEW YORK -- Now that Mike Piazza officially will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 24, it is time for the New York Mets to perform an overdue gesture.

It is time to retire the slugger's No. 31.

The Mets have been stingy with retiring numbers, to say the least. (Let's not get started on the '86 Mets, including Keith Hernandez.)

The only number retired by the franchise for a player's contribution is Tom Seaver's No. 41. The Mets also have retired No. 37 for Casey Stengel and No. 14 for Gil Hodges. No. 42 is retired across baseball for pioneer Jackie Robinson.

That's it, despite more than a half-century of baseball in Queens.

No one has worn No. 31 with the Mets since Piazza’s departure, and it seems likely the club will do the right thing. A team official declined to comment Wednesday, indicating the organization was not ready to disclose any plans.

Piazza and Seaver should soon be linked in another way, too.

Assuming the 47-year-old Piazza is enshrined as a Met, he would become the second player to don a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, joining Seaver, who was inducted in 1992. Piazza previously has expressed a desire to represent the Mets rather than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who originally drafted him in the 62nd round.

Piazza joined the Mets in May 1998 after a one-week cameo with the then-Florida Marlins. He spent eight seasons with the Mets, and led the club to the National League pennant in 2000.

Aside from that Subway Series, which included a memorable confrontation with Roger Clemens, Piazza’s signature moment with the Mets came the following season. In the first game back in New York after Sept. 11, Piazza launched a two-run homer in the eighth inning against Braves reliever Steve Karsay at Shea Stadium to lift the Mets to an emotional 3-2 victory that helped New York City residents heal.

Piazza’s career numbers, including a .308 average and 427 homers, rank among the greatest in major league history regardless of position.

Among players who appeared in at least 50 percent of their games at catcher, Piazza ranks first in homers, fourth in RBIs, sixth in hits and sixth in WAR, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

With Piazza’s election, all 10 eligible players who batted .300 and slugged 400 home runs during their careers are now Hall of Famers. Piazza joins Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.