By Jim Dolan
“Welcome to an evening which has been well overdue,” said Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose prior to the Mets-Reds game as he greeted fans at the July 31 New York Mets Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Citi Field. Three stars from three different decades were honored for their contributions to the franchise – Jon Matlack (1970’s), Ron Darling (1980’s) and Edgardo Alfonzo (1990’s).
As the 1972 Rookie of Year, Jon Matlack was the perfect player to complement the strong pitching staff led by Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman that saw the return of the Mets to the 1973 World Series. Matlack finished his Met career with 82 wins and a 3.03 ERA as three time All Star.
In 1982 a trade with the Texas Rangers brought Ron Darling, a young Yale grad to Flushing. By 1985 Darling earned a spot on the All Star Team and had become the backbone of the Mets’ pitching rotation with fellow All Star Doc Gooden. Darling is best remembered for winning Game 4 of the 1986 World Series in Boston to even the series at 2-2. Darling concluded his Met career with 99 wins, 4th best in the organization and went on to be a Met broadcaster in 2006 with SNY.
After signing with the Mets in 1991 as an international free agent from Venezuela, infielder Edgardo Alfonzo finally made it to Shea Stadium in 1995 after learning English and American culture in the minor leagues. Alfonzo excelled defensively and was the catalyst on the teams of the late 90’s that went deep into the National League playoffs and eventually to the 2000 World Series. Batting .292 with 538 RBIs over his eight years with the Mets, Alfonzo became known as “Mr. Clutch” for his consistency at the plate. In fact, Alfonzo was a member of the 1999 Sports Illustrated “Greatest Infield” that included Robin Ventura, Rey Ordonez and John Olerud. Fonzie’s last accomplishment for the Mets was managing the Brooklyn Cyclones to win the New York Penn League Championship in 2019.
Finally, an original 1962 New York Met, Al Jackson was honored with the Mets Hall of Fame Achievement Award for his 50 years of service to the franchise after his passing in 2019. The little southpaw threw the Mets’ first one-hit game, the first Met shutout and was the first pitcher to win at the Mets’ new home at Shea Stadium in 1964. During his tenure in the organization, Jackson served as a coach, pitching coordinator and front office consultant.
As part of Ron Darling’s acceptance speech, he made special mention of the coach that made him a better pitcher. Paying homage to his beloved pitching mentor, Darling said, “It was Al Jackson who taught me the ‘split finger’.”
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