St. John's Alumnus John Franco Inducted into NY Mets Hall of Fame
John Franco, a four-time MLB All-Star who once said he truly became a pitcher at St. John’s University, was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame at Citi Field in Queens, NY, on Sunday, June 3.
In a 35-minute ceremony before the Mets’ game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Franco became the 26th person inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Previous inductees were on hand, including Doc Gooden, Bud Harrelson, Ed Kranepool and Darryl Strawberry. Former teammates such as David Cone, Al Leiter, Bret Saberhagen and Todd Zeile also attended.
“It’s humbling, and I’m very honored,” said Franco, who rooted for the Mets while growing up in Brooklyn, NY. The Hall of Fame, he noted, includes players who were his childhood heroes. “To be on the wall with those guys,” he said, “means an awful lot to me.”
Franco joined the Mets in 1990, after six seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Over the next fourteen seasons, he became the club’s captain as well as its leader in saves (276) and games pitched (695). He spent his final season with the Houston Astros, finishing his career with 424 saves — the most by a left-hander.
St. John’s friends and alumni watched the ceremony — and had a chance to personally congratulate Franco — at Mo’s Zone, a seating area at Citi Field. As a freshman at the University, Franco tossed two no-hitters and helped lead the baseball team to the 1980 College World Series.
Franco always remained close to St. John’s pitching coach Howie Gershberg. In May 2012, the University named the bullpen in his honor at Jack Kaiser Stadium on the Queens, NY, campus. “Howie was a mentor to me,” Franco said in 2009, at the University’s third annual Baseball Bullpen Winter Banquet. “When I came to St. John’s, I was a thrower, and Howie made me into a pitcher.”