When Gary Sheffield homered on Apr. 17, it was his first hit as a two-week veteran of the Mets. It also happened to be his 500th career homer.
When he rounded the bases, the first of many hugs was from Jose Reyes. But by far the longest, most meaningful hug was from third baseman David Wright.
Sheffield was considering his options a few weeks ago—among them were the Phillies, Reds, and Rays—when Wright texted him to persuade him to join the Mets. That gesture convinced Shef.
It also showed why Wright wears a big invisible “C” on his chest. That sits just under his face, which is considered to be that of the franchise as well.
If David Wright were judged merely by his stats, he’d be considered an excellent player.
His career .310 batting average has helped earn him the third slot in the order this season. In the last three full seasons, he’s ranked at the top of the list for the Mets in average, slugging, on-base percentage, doubles, homers, and in durability categories like games played and at-bats.
He’s already won two gold gloves for his defense. He’s tallied his share of errors, but his most memorable play at third is certainly his barehanded catch in 2005 that made every highlight reel.
Add in two silver slugger awards, and you’ve got one balanced baseball powerhouse, still just 26 years old.
He’s gone to the all-star game where he nearly won the home run derby. He played in the World Baseball Classic, getting a huge hit to give Team USA a big win. He's also been a finalist in the MVP race in recent seasons.
But his stats may not even be his strongest suit.
Since he joined the Mets five years ago, he’s been a reliable interviewee, spreading accolades, and never dodging blame. He’s gotten wiser about the media and is more often than not the player quoted.
The team's late season shortcomings in the past two years most likely hit Wright harder than just about anyone, yet he addressed the issue head on and did it the right way.
He’s always one of the first guys in the dugout to high-five a teammate who’s homered. He often hangs out next to the manager behind the dugout railing, presumably exchanging valuable tidbits.
His image as a clean cut, hard-working grunt has so far escaped recurring mentions in the gossip blogs, unlike his third base counterpart in the Bronx. He’s more often mentioned in the offseason for his charity work than for any sort of antics.
He respects the game—its history, his peers, and the fans. Even with his obvious self-confidence, he manages to come across as humble.
Unlike many players, he’s embraced New York. For that and everything mentioned above, the fans have embraced him as one of their own.
We’re waiting for the day when the invisible “C” appears on his uniform. It’s just a matter of time.