Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mets Teammates Who Played Together The Longest

Within the next two weeks, longtime Yankees catcher Jorge Posada will announce his retirement from baseball.  The 40-year-old Posada will hang up his catchers' gear after 15 full seasons (17 overall) in Yankee pinstripes.  With Posada's retirement, that will leave Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera as the only Yankee teammates to be together since the days of Buck Showalter.  Jeter and Rivera made their major league debuts six days apart during the 1995 season and will be entering their 18th season as Yankee teammates in 2012.

Only one pair of teammates played together longer than Jeter and Rivera.  From 1977 to 1995, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell were double play partners in Detroit.  Their 19 seasons as teammates surpassed the previous record of 18 years set by George Brett and Frank White when they played together in Kansas City from 1973 to 1990.

It's rare for an athlete to play for a single team over his entire career, especially if his career is lengthy.  It's even rarer for teammates to stay together for an extended period of time.  Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell played an unprecedented 19 seasons together.  No individual player, let alone a set of teammates, has ever been a Met for that long, as Ed Kranepool's 18 seasons with New York has remained the franchise record for over three decades.

This brings up an interesting question.  If no individual Met has played more than 18 seasons with the team, which pair of Mets were teammates the longest?  Surely, one of the dynamic duo had to be Kranepool, right?  We've gone through mounds of paperwork (and by paperwork, I mean baseball-reference.com) and came up with the teammates who played together the longest in orange and blue.  These pairs of Metropolitans played all or parts of twelve (or more) seasons together.  Here they are:

  • Ed Kranepool and Cleon Jones (12 seasons; 1963, 1965-75)
  • Bud Harrelson and Jerry Grote (12 seasons; 1966-77)
  • Ed Kranepool and Jerry Grote (12 seasons; 1966-77)
  • Ed Kranepool and Jerry Koosman (12 seasons; 1967-78)
  • Ron Hodges and Craig Swan (12 seasons; 1973-84)
  • Ed Kranepool and Bud Harrelson (13 seasons; 1965-77)

Ed Kranepool was everyone's teammate so long ago that color film hadn't been invented yet.

That was kind of boring, wasn't it?  Other than the Hodges/Swan combo that most Mets fans might have overlooked, the other pairs of teammates all played in the same era of Mets baseball.

The more interesting question might be which teammates played the longest since the '80s began?  That list is probably one you wouldn't be able to recite off the top of your head.  In fact, we uncovered only one pair of teammates that played at least ten seasons together since the Reagan administration and another nine that played a minimum of eight seasons with each other.  Time to go through those mounds of paperwork again...

  • Darryl Strawberry and Ron Darling (8 seasons; 1983-90)
  • Sid Fernandez and Ron Darling (8 seasons; 1984-91)
  • Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling (8 seasons; 1984-91)
  • John Franco and Bobby Jones (8 seasons; 1993-2000)
  • Jose Reyes and David Wright (8 seasons; 2004-11)
  • Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman (9 seasons; 1980-88)
  • Sid Fernandez and Howard Johnson (9 seasons; 1985-93)
  • Dwight Gooden and Howard Johnson (9 seasons; 1985-93)
  • John Franco and Todd Hundley (9 seasons; 1990-98)
  • Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez (10 seasons; 1984-93)

(Editor's note:  John Franco missed the 2002 season with an injury.  That eliminates a pairing of Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo as eight-year teammates, as Fonzie was with the Mets from 1995 to 2002, thereby only making him Franco's teammate for seven years.  Ya gotta believe... in semantics!) 

We know Sid Fernandez wore No. 50.  But he wore No. 10 in this photo to commemorate the number of seasons he was Dwight Gooden's teammate with the Mets.  We wouldn't lie to you about that.

With Jose Reyes now waiting for the latest fire sale in Miami, David Wright and Mike Pelfrey have become the current longest running duo on 126th and Roosevelt, having played all or parts of six seasons together.  Since neither player is guaranteed to return after the 2012 season, it may be a while before the Mets have a pair of teammates play at least eight seasons together, let alone the number of seasons that players like Ed Kranepool, Jerry Grote, Bud Harrelson and others from the early days of the franchise played together.

The business of baseball has changed quite a bit since the Mets were the little team that could.  Keeping a team intact for an extended period of time has become more difficult than spelling Mientkiewicz after downing a few Coronas.

Where have you gone, Eddie Kranepool?  The Mets don't have the same look to me...


IHeartBaseball said...

Love your writing style, the "old school" photos, the stats and humor!

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

Thanks so much! You have to have a sense of humor to be a Mets fan.