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The Wright Stuff: The Captain Who Weathered the Storm

David Wright will play his first MLB game since April of 2016 tonight at Citi Field, in what will no doubt be an emotional night the likes of which Queens has never seen. Why? Because it will be the last time David Wright takes the field as a New York Met and a professional ballplayer.

David Wright by slgckgc is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Wright Stuff: The Captain Who Weathered the Storm

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

David Wright will play his first MLB game since April of 2016 tonight at Citi Field, in what will no doubt be an emotional night the likes of which Queens has never seen. Why? Because it will be the last time David Wright takes the field as a New York Met and a professional ballplayer.

At the Beginning

David Wright first took the field draped in Orange and Blue on July 21st, 2004, a midsummer game against the Montreal Expos. The 2001 first-round pick, sandwiched between Mike Cameron and Vance Wilson, would finish the night 0-for-4, but that’s merely a footnote in his long distinguished career. 

Wright would finish 2004 with a .293 batting average, knocking 77 hits and parking 14 homers in 69 games. The Captain may have been simply a crew member, but he was already showing us that he wasn’t afraid to put in the grunt work to support his team.

At the Plate

David Wright is not the biggest ballplayer known to man.  His 6-foot, 205-pound frame was never an imposing presence at the plate. In the short time that I worked for the Mets, I was always shocked to see him in the hallways.

To see a ballplayer look like a normal person isn’t so much odd, as it is shocking. There are few players today who don’t look like they could bench press a Ford F-150 (Giancarlo Stanton) or eat a Ford F-150 (Willians Astudillo), but Wright had the blue collar look of a guy who was maybe there to sell some pipe fittings or ask about the point of sale system.

At the plate, that guy didn’t exist. David Wright was a force to be reckoned with. In his 12 seasons with the Mets (I’m not counting 2016, because it barely registers), Wright hit above .300 seven times. In his first 5 full seasons, he hit an average of .310 with 41 doubles, 23 home runs, 23 stolen bases, 104 RBIs and 171 total hits each year. For a current reference, those numbers are comparable to Francisco Lindor’s 2018, but Wright hit 30 points higher.

Within those five full seasons, Wright would be elected to the All-Star Game 4 times and would place in the top 10 for NL MVP voting three times. 2007, in particular, was a break out year for Wright, besting the likes of Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Ryan Howard, and Hanley Ramirez. That year Wright would also join the 30-30 club, hitting 30 home runs and stealing 30 bases, making him one of 14 players to complete that task in the last 11 years. 

At the Corner

David Wright was not only an incredibly solid hitter, but he was also an insanely gifted fielder at third base. They don’t call it the “Hot Corner” for nothing, but David always stayed cool.

Over his 13 seasons with the Mets, Wright won 3 gold gloves at third, tying Gary Carter and Rey Ordonez for second in the team’s history, behind Keith Hernandez.

The thing about David at third was not hit cat like reflexes, but his ability to charge slow rollers and make the out at first. 

But first, feast your eyes on this:

The barehanded charges from Wright will forever be burned into my memory. There was an power to his ability to make that snap play to snag a runner at first. The guy was a beast at the corner, but it was that whole side of the infield that was beastly.

David Wright and José Reyes were a revelation in Queens. Their SS/3B tandem was something to behold. The represented youth, tenacity and God-given talent, something that would inspire years of unbridled optimism in Queens, something the current club is struggling to manufacture.

At the Helm

David Wright was named Captain of the New York Mets in 2013, the fourth such honored player in the franchise’s history. It seems obvious that David Wright would be mentioned in the same sentence as Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco, but this cemented that distinction. That year David Wright’s nickname “Captain America” would be bestowed on him after he led the World Baseball Classic in RBIs. 

Off the field, David founded the David Wright Foundation, an organization that increases awareness of multiple multiple sclerosis, and raises money for MS organizations and projects. Was that something David did in his later years? No, he founded the organization in 2005, the same year he made his MLB debut.

At the End

I will never be able to put into words what David Wright meant to those faithful to the Orange and Blue, and I don’t think a lot of us are able to at the moment. For the last 13 years, the Mets have had David Wright in uniform, playing within the organization, and in 2019, they won’t. It’s going to be tough not seeing Captain America at the hot corner, but that healing begins tonight. 

David Wright will take the field in his first start since 2016, and Citi Field, a stone’s throw away from the old home plate of Shea Stadium, will be ROCKING. That’s what the Captain would have wanted, and what the Captain wants… the Captain gets. 

One of the most telling facts about David’s Wright’s career for me is his multi-generational mile markers. David Wright knocked in the last playoff RBI at Shea Stadium and knocked in the first World Series RBI at Citi Field. There’s something cleansing about David Wright’s departure, in that it feels like a true changing of the guard in Queens. The younger generation of Mets are knocking at the door, and the old generation has finally let them in. David Wright has ushered them in and taught them everything he knows about winning in Queens, dominating both on the field and off, and leading a team through hell and high water.

Should the Mets keep David Wright within their organization? Yes. They should keep him as close as they possibly can, because for the last 13 years David Wright has been the heart, soul and face of this organization. When David had the chance to leave Queens and go to a winning team after spending years int he cellar of the NL East, he didn’t. Instead he bought into the future and the trust of the front office and of the fans. 

That’s a favor they should return, as the fans return their love and affection for the Captain tonight in Queens. 

David Wright - New York Mets
David Wright by slgckgc is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

To David Wright,

Thank you for being the leader in the clubhouse, a star on the field, a human outside the park and the Captain of our borough. Queens will never be able to repay you for what you given us, but we’re going to try tonight at 7:00.

#StayTrue #ThankYouDavid #OhCaptainMyCaptain

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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