Still, to him, the night was perfect.
“Look at this place,” Wright said, surveying the Citi Field crowd from the Mets’ broadcast booth, where he went to chat with announcers Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez after he was pulled to a rousing ovation in the fifth inning. “This place is packed. The signs. The chants. The thank yous. I should be thanking them.”
As manager Mickey Callaway said he would, Wright started the game at his familiar third base spot and had two plate appearances. The plan was for Wright to take the field, then leave the game. And when Callaway signaled the time had come to exit, the crowd gave an emotional Wright a standing ovation that lasted more than three minutes.
Against that backdrop, Wright slowly walked off the field, waving to the crowd. He hugged his longtime companion on the infield, shortstop Jose Reyes, as well as the teammates who stood and applauded just outside the dugout.
“I thought all my tears were done, but I got to that clubhouse and they started rolling again,” he said.
Wright then came back out to the field after the game, a 1-0 win for the Mets in 13 innings. He was handed a microphone to address the crowd, still full despite the lengthy contest.
“I knew things were going to be special when I pulled into the parking lot and there were probably, I don’t know, five or six dozen fans waiting outside the parking lot,” he told reporters postgame. “I think that’s when it kind of hit me that this was going to be an awesome night. I think that’s the best way that I could put it.
“Tonight was, it was awesome. I’ve never really been one to love the spotlight. I love the playing field and I love being part of a team, but to be singled out tonight was something that was, for me at least, uncomfortable but towards the end of it I can’t tell you how much I loved the fans’ reaction. I can’t tell you how much I loved the city’s reaction. It was truly amazing and I can’t thank everybody enough. It hit me right in the heart when I took the field for the first time and heard the fans cheer, and that is something that I will always remember. I mean tonight was so, so truly special.”
On Friday, New York’s longtime captain pinch-hit and grounded out after swinging at the first pitch. That was his first appearance in the major leagues since May 2016. He has been plagued with a number of injuries to his neck, shoulder and back that required surgery.
The Mets took Wright with a supplemental pick in the first round of the 2001 draft, and he has spent his entire career with the organization. He thanked the Mets for giving him a chance to wear the uniform one final time.
“This was a gesture by the Mets to let me have this night,” said Wright, 35, whose 2-year-old daughter threw out the first pitch to him as his wife, Molly, his parents and infant daughter joined them on the field. “This is a night I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Wright is the Mets’ all-time leader in a number of offensive categories, including at-bats (5,998), hits (1,777), doubles (390), runs (949), RBIs (970) and walks (761). His 242 home runs are second to Darryl Strawberry’s 252. He is a seven-time All-Star.
“David deserved this day. That’s for sure,” Callaway said.
–Field Level Media