— Jon Springer (@Springer66) November 12, 2014
Oh for the days I used to be the first person to report on this (and one of the only to care). Hey guess what! Cuddyer will wear No. 23!
When I think of 23, I think of Doug Flynn, the slick fielding infielder who arrived in the Tom Seaver trade. Flynn was never any kind of hitter but could turn the pivot, and lasted longer than any other occupant of the number, amassing more appearances, turns at bat, and overall hits (an even 500) than any other 23.
But perhaps a better parallel to Cuddyer was the mercurial Bernard Gilkey, himself a veteran right-handed hitting corner outfielder when he joined the Mets in 1996. Gilkey famously went on to have one of the best single seasons of any Met — 23 or not — and probably the best debut season for a new arrival in team history. His marks for home runs (52), RBI (223), doubles (90), stolen bases (29) and runs scored (226) easily top his peers in 23, and most were accumulated during that freaky ’96 year. His marks would eclipse those of Joe Christopher, the Virgin Islands-born standout of the 1962-65 Mets. Along with Ron Hunt, Christopher in 1964 was the first Met regular to hit. 300 in a season.
The less said about Brian Schneider, the better. Most recently, 23 belonged to briefly visiting reserve catcher Taylor Teagarden, whom I believe is again a minor league free agent looking for a AAA catching job and a spring training invite.
Only four pitchers have worn 23 for the Mets; the noteworthiest being Pat Mahomes, the versatile swingman of Bobby Valentine’s teams. Mahomes was a magical 8-0 in 1999, almost entirely in long relief bailout situations.