Former players cheered and shook his hand as he joined them for a group photo on alumni day.
The crowd behind the third base dugout roared and later chanted “Thank you, Steve” on different occasions.
Steve Cohen was treated like a hero, as the Mets hosted 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, OK,” Cohen said Saturday before the Mets win 3-0 over the Rockies. “I’m just happy to have been able to bring them together. It is 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 fan interactions on Twitter to the statue of Tom Seaver that was completed and displayed in May, so much about the Mets has changed under new ownership.
The current team sits atop 35 NL East games on .500, with its best record at this point in the season since the 1986 World Series champion team.
“He brought a sense of hope, that’s probably the best way to put it,” said David Cone, former Met and current analyst for YES and ESPN. “The whole fan base has a sense of hope now that it’s enduring. Year after year, that whatever it takes, it’s going to be done. It’s just a great feeling as a fan. It seems understand the modern way of doing things and what the fanbase reacts to.
A Mets fan growing up, Cohen said he doesn’t find it odd that the Mets don’t have an alumni day every year like the rival Yankees. But once he took over from the Wilpons and the idea was suggested, he was all for it. Current manager Buck Showalter praised Cohen for being willing to spend the money to put on such an impressive event.
“Trust me, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Showalter said. “I said, ‘Thank you.’ He didn’t want to hear it.
Cohen was thrilled with the attendance and the opportunity to hear so many stories from former players that he grew up watching, sitting in the locker room with players from all eras of Mets baseball. These players in turn praised him and his passion for the Mets.
“He’s definitely changing things,” Gooden said. “He knows, he understands. … Nothing against the Wilpons, they were great too, but he takes it to a whole new level. What I mean by that, re-involve the alumni, put the fans and the organization first, get a competitive team back on the pitch.
Cone and Gooden think the Mets can be a consistent winner, like they were in the 1980s. There’s excitement for the team, for this season and beyond. There’s also a sense of pride in the Mets’ history under Cohen.
Saturday’s Alumni Day was a memorable one, attracting the likes of Pedro Martinez, Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Mike Piazza and Jose Reyes, and many more. Before the game started, the Mets retired Willie Mays’ number 24.
“These are simple things. I think the fans just want to know that you care about them and want to know that the property is listening. That’s all I try to do,” Cohen said. “I do this for the fans, so I listen to what they have to say. I don’t always have to agree, it’s true, but it’s important for me to know what they think and it’s important to me that they know that I care.