Opening Day 2011 will be the 50th Opening Day in Mets history. To honor that, around here we’ll be counting down the top 50 Mets in team history, one every weekday from now until we’ve done ‘em all. Today, #41, John Franco:
Fourth all time in saves, third all time in appearances, John Franco has pitched in more games than any Mets player in history. James K of Amazin’ Avenue already said most of the things I wanted to say about John Franco a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll just point you his way and then leave you with this:
“By ’84 Franco was in the Reds’ big league bullpen. Growing up, he had dreamed of being driven in the goofy oversized golfcart from the bullpen to the mound at Shea, like his idol, Mets reliever Tug McGraw. That season he got his wish while pitching for the Reds at Shea. “Getting in that cart was the worst thing I could have done,” Franco says. “All the way down the leftfield line I had beer thrown at me, I had pennies thrown at me, I got called every kind of name you could think of. I felt like saying, ‘Hey, I’m from New York!’ But I had that different uniform on.”
Twenty-four hours later, Green was not inclined to scold or discipline his closer even though it was the second time in a week that Franco had risked injury with a fit of temper. The closer last week trashed the Shea Stadium clubhouse after a defeat, smashing a radio, throwing an ashtray and wrecking a table . . . Franco said his anger had got the best of him throughout his career, from high school in Brooklyn on up. There was a soda machine in Omaha that took a pretty good beating from the left-hander.
“Everybody is different,” said Franco. “Everybody has different emotions.”