The former players applauded and shook his hand as he joined them for a group photo Day of the Elderly.
The crowd behind the third-base dugout roared and then chanted, “Thanks, Steve,” on different occasions.
Steve Cohen was treated like a hero, as the Mets welcomed back some of their best players in franchise history for an event they last hosted in 1994.
“It’s their day, it’s not my day, okay,” Cohen said Saturday before the The Mets’ 3-0 win over the Rockies. “I’m just happy that I could bring them together. It’s better late than never. We have such a great history with the Mets, it’s important to celebrate it.”
It’s just one of many changes under Cohen’s watch around the Mets. From their high payroll near the top of the game to his interactions with fans on Twitter to the Tom Seaver statue that was completed and displayed in May, so much about the Mets has changed with new ownership.
The current team sits atop the NL East 35 games over .500, with its best record at that point in the season since the World Series champion 1986 team.
“He brought a sense of hope, that’s probably the best way to put it,” former Met and current YES and ESPN analyst David Cone said. “The whole fan base has a sense of hope now that this is sustainable. Year after year, that whatever it takes, it’s going to get done. That’s just a great feeling as a fan. He seems to understand the modern way of doing things and what the fan base responds to. “
A Mets fan growing up, Cohen said he didn’t find it strange that the Mets didn’t have an Old Timer’s Day every year like the rival Yankees. But after he took over from the Wilpons, and the idea was proposed, he was all for it. Current manager Buck Showalter praised Cohen for being willing to spend the money necessary to put on such an impressive event.
“Believe me, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Showalter said. “I told him, ‘Thank you.’ He didn’t want to hear it.”
Cohen was thrilled with the turnout and the opportunity to hear so many stories from former players he grew up watching, sitting in the locker room with players from every era of Mets baseball. Those players in turn raved about him and his passion for the Mets.
“He’s definitely changing things,” Gooden said. “He knows, he gets it. … Nothing against the Wilpons, they were great too, but he takes it to a whole other level. What I mean by that is getting alumni involved, putting the fans first and the organization first, putting a competitive team back on the field.”
Both Cone and Gooden believe that the Mets can be a consistent winner, as they were in the 1980s. There is excitement about the team, for this season and beyond. There is also a sense of pride in the history of the Mets under Cohen.
Saturday’s Old Timer’s Day was one to remember, drawing the likes of Pedro Martinez, Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Mike Piazza, and Jose Reyes, and so many others. Before the actual game started, the Mets retired Willie Mays’ number 24.
“These are simple things. I think the fans just want to know that you care and want to know that ownership is listening. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Cohen said. “I do this for the fans, and so I listen to what they have to say. I don’t always have to agree, do I, but it’s important to me to know what they think and it’s important to me that they know I care.”