The Mets’ long-awaited first Hall of Fame class since 2013 spanned various eras of team history, honoring two All-Star pitchers from the 1970s and ’80s and one everyday regular bridging the new millennium.
Jon Matlack, Ron Darling and Edgardo Alfonzo were inducted Saturday in a pregame ceremony delayed more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were the first players so feted since Mike Piazza, who was in attendance Saturday, was enshrined eight years earlier.
“I didn’t really realize until I got the call that I was going in the Hall of Fame last year that I do have a place here, a place of history in this organization,” said Darling, who posted 100 wins (including one in Game 4 of the 1986 World Series) with the Mets from 1983-91 before rejoining the organization as a beloved TV broadcaster in 2006. “I have a place in the history of this organization. You don’t think about things like that.
“You don’t think about legacies or any of that stuff while you’re living your life. But when something like this happens, it really makes me sit back and say, ‘Wow, I’m really honored that they would think of me in that way.’ ”
The 71-year-old Matlack joined Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman atop the Mets’ rotation and posted an 82-81 record with a 3.03 ERA (fourth-best in team history) with two All-Star appearances from 1971-77. The lefty added two more wins in the 1973 postseason run that ended with a seven-game loss to Oakland in the World Series.
“I feel like I’m more of a big deal now at 71 than I was at 27 or 28,” Matlack said before his Mets snagged a 5-4 comeback victory over the Reds. “I guess back when you’re playing, you don’t spend as much time focusing on things that happened.
“And when you reflect back on it years later, other people have flavored what has happened. It takes on a different color, and it’s really special. I’m truly honored to be part of this group. Going into the Mets Hall of Fame, it’s something I’ll treasure forever, no doubt.”
Alfonzo, a key member of the Mets’ 2000 World Series squad, played eight seasons in Flushing from 1995-2002, batting .292 with 120 homers and an .812 OPS.
“I received the news and tears came to my eyes because when I played here, I never thought about Hall of Fame or nothing,” Alfonzo said. “My wife, she was worried. She asked if something happened. I said, ‘No, don’t worry, something good happened.’ ”
Original Met and longtime team employee Al Jackson, who died in 2019, also was honored posthumously with the Hall of Fame achievement award for 50 years with the organization as a player, coach and executive.
“We have the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s represented. And Al Jackson represented the ages,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said.
Franchise dignitaries in attendance included Piazza, Ed Kranepool, Bobby Valentine, Keith Hernandez, Carlos Baerga, Rey Ordonez, TV announcer Gary Cohen and master of ceremonies Howie Rose.