“I’ll be smiling tomorrow, hits or outs.”
David Wright wasn’t lying when he said this after his pinch hit appearance on Saturday, his first in an MLB game since May of 2016. But as the playoffs start, we need to take a step back and remember the players we lost, or may have lost, this weekend. Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, and David Wright, all legends within their own franchises, and the league.
But it’s Wright who’s story is so unique, and at the same time unbelievable and sad. I’m a Red Sox fan, I’ve lived in Boston my entire life, yet somehow, David Wright has been one of my favorite players growing up, and Saturday night embodied that… just so perfectly.
Sure, David Wright, the guy who came up as a top prospect in 2004, a first round pick, the great story of the kid from Virginia who grew up as a Mets fan. The guy who hit over .300 in 7 of his 10 full seasons. The guy with 7 all star appearances, 2 gold gloves, 2 silver sluggers, MVP votes in 6 seasons, the epitome of a 5 tool player. You can continue for ever with all of Wright’s accolades, but that’s not what makes David Wright a legend in and outside of New York.
It was the moments, and how this guy would give anything to make it back onto the baseball field, even when he didn’t have to. It’s August 2015, and this Mets team is good. Wright as been out since April, and he makes his return, leading the Mets to the World Series, then proceeds to hit the biggest home run of his life, in the biggest game of his life:
It was the beginning of the end as he only appeared in 38 games that season, and he maybe knew that, but you weren’t keeping David Wright off that field.
After missing all of 2017 with the exception of 3 minor league games. David Wright wasn’t giving up. That’s not what David Wright does. David Wright would do anything to get on that baseball field for the Mets one last time, even if he knew deep down, that realistically, it was over. He hit .171 in a rehab games, and it was obvious that he wasn’t going to get back to the majors in the way that David Wright wanted to.
But it doesn’t matter. Getting his send off on Saturday, and playing in major league games once again, even if just for 3 plate appearance, made the two and a half years of rehab with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel worth it.
You know he wanted to get a hit in his last game, but his ability to hold back, look at pitches, and draw a walk was fairly remarkable in itself. In his last at-bat, and what he knew was his last at-bat, Wright popped out, and smiled his way back to the dugout, and after fielding a few ground balls prior to his substitution, he waved goodbye to the crowd, and hugged his long time left side of the infield partner, Jose Reyes. The two have started 860 games together, more than any other combination in history. He hugged every one of his teammates, all with a smile and without a tear. That’s what made David Wright so special.
Saturday’s sendoff was the perfect ending, yet imperfect at the same time. You hate to see it end like this, the two years of rehab, and being forced to retire to injury, a terrible ending for a special player, but all of that rehab to get back on the field was worth it, just for that moment. Those 4 innings of being on an MLB field once again, and having New York, and baseball fans everywhere, give him the perfect sendoff.
David Wright was so, so much more than just a New York Met, or a really good baseball player. David Wright is the epitome of what you want out of an athlete, and a person, and truly does embody the sport of baseball. We liked him for his talent, but he loved him for his will.
He even made a kid from Boston fall in love with him.
Follow me on twitter @jIabruins and the site @TheINTsports
Featured Image: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
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