MBTN reader Matt today sent along a scan of a 1983 Daily News article showing the accompanying photograph of Davey Johnson posing with jersey No. 31. As we all know, by the time Johnson managed his first game with the Mets in April of 1984, the 31 jersey was long gone and Johnson would wear No. 5. Although the article this story accompanied (click the photo to see it) appeared in a December of 1983 and concerned Johnson’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame, the photo itself was taken that October, on the day the Mets introduced Johnson as their next manager.
This was an interesting find though. I’ve got copies of Newsday, the Times and the Post from that day, all of which used the same closeup of Johnson’s face to illustrate their stories. But it’s not unprecendented. Back in 2004, on the November day the Mets introduced another new manager, Willie Randolph, they presented him with jersey No. 1 and not the 12 he’d show up in once it was time to play. Similar photo-op phollies struck Mets-in-waiting like Roger Cedeno (11 in the press conference, 19 on the field); Xavier Nady (10; 22), Duaner Sanchez (40; 50); and Chad Bradford (35; 53).
Which brings me to an interesting discovery I made while fleeing a rain delay earlier this season at the new park. Ducking into a Promenade-level memorabilia shop to avoid the downpour I came across (not literally) a selection of “game-used” jerseys from scrubs of the not-so-distant past, selling at the relative bargain price of $100 each. Among the KNIGHT 28s (Brandon, not Ray) and SOSA 29s I spied this curiousity: An alleged “game-worn” No. 17 belonging to Willie Collazo, whose short Met career already included one interesting moment in uni history.
Collazo, who was up briefly in 2007 and 2008 (but did not play in the latter appearance) was issued No. 36 in both stays, so the 17 was out of place. I didn’t think to check whether there were any clues as to what year the jersey was from, but my records show that during Collazo’s entire tenure with the Mets, the 17 jersey would have been available only in the month of April 2008, after David Newhan was gone but before Fernando Tatis had arrived (and even then, Tatis had 17 assigned to him).
Any theories as to how this happened? And what other cases can you recall where a Met was issued a number but never appeared in it?