Gary Cohen, SNY.tv
Here's a Q&A with SNY play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen about David Wright's career and his final game. Tune in to SNY on Saturday and Sunday to re-watch the broadcast of that magical game at Citi Field.
How would you describe the atmosphere at Citi Field during Wright's final game? What still sticks with you?
I think the best way to put it is that it was a night of love and appreciation. As much as David Wright was beloved by Mets fans, there was always a sense that he was taken for granted, even overlooked because he was so steady, so non-controversial. The two seasons at the end, when he was unable to play, gave people a chance to remember just how important David was to the fabric of the franchise and the experience of being a Mets fan over the previous decade and a half. So when the fans had one more chance to let David know how they felt about him, they held nothing back. It was a sea of warmth all night.
There were so many memorable moments. David's toddler daughter throwing out the first pitch. The reaction to his every movement. The vitriol directed at Peter O'Brien when he caught the foul pop-up in David's final at-bat. David coming up to the booth in full uniform. The utter joy and love on the faces of the fans in front of our booth when they realized David was there. And most of all, the recurring theme of David's desire to play one last game: the fact that neither of his daughters had ever seen him play. He needed completion for himself, but also for his family.
Do you think Wright would have been a Hall of Famer if he hadn't suffered so many injuries?
It's certainly an interesting question. For his first four full seasons, he was certainly on that trajectory. But in 2009, the combination of Citi Field's original cavernous dimensions, and a Matt Cain fastball to the helmet had an impact on David's production. He put up some good numbers after that, but never to the level he maintained from 2005 to 2008. The fractured back in 2011 set him back again, and then 2012 was his last fully healthy, productive season, before spinal stenosis ultimately put an end to his career. Even so, seven All-Star Games, two Gold Gloves, 242 home runs and an .867 career OPS constitute a pretty terrific run.
What's your favorite Wright moment or memory?
There are so many, including his bare-handed catch in San Diego, his game-winning hit against Mariano Rivera, the TWO times he came back from injury in Philadelphia and homered in his first at-bat, his World Series home run at Citi Field.
But I always go back to David's first day in the major leagues in 2004. So often in the past, when a highly touted young player joined the Mets, he would be shielded from the media, available only in tightly controlled situations. Then 21-year-old David arrived, strode into his introductory press conference, gripped the podium with both hands, and proceeded to own the room. The confidence and normalness that he made evident that day turned out to be the way he was EVERY day, and the reason he commanded the respect and admiration that would eventually lead to being named Captain.
Is there a current baseball player who reminds you of Wright?
The best parallel I can find is Pete Alonso. It's a different generation, and Pete was a few years older than David was when he arrived. But Pete has that similar genuine nature and command of the room that David did.
Wright doesn't currently seem interested in managing... do you think that's a mistake? What type of manager do you think he'd be?
There's no question that David would be great at managing if it struck his fancy. But managing a major league team requires the kind of 24/7 commitment that I don't think David is ready for right now. His girls are very young, and I think he's happy keeping the focus on them for now, and dabbling a bit in the front office as an advisor. Whether he changes his mind someday remains to be seen, but there's no question he would command respect and do a terrific job if and when the managing bug bites him.