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Keith Hernandez Forgets Key Element of Mets’ Uniform (Which He Wore)

Mets fans are accustomed to witnessing not-so-occasional brain fog on the part of color commentator Keith Hernandez. But even by Hernandez’s standards, he really had a doozy during last night’s Mets/Marlins spring training game. (The full sequence is embedded above.)

The Mets were batting in the bottom of the ninth. The batter was Kellum Clark, a minor leaguer who’s been wearing No. 11 in spring training. On deck was José Iglesias, a non-roster spring training invitee who’s also wearing No. 11 — one of those weird uni-numerical coincidences that sometimes happen during spring training games. That led to the following exchange between Hernandez and play-by-play man Steve Gelbs:

Steve Gelbs: Keith, we had this in yesterday’s game, too. This is Kellum Clark, No. 11, batting. And take a look at the number in the on-deck circle for the Mets. [Camera obligingly shows Iglesias on deck.] Eleven.

Hernandez [sounding puzzled]: Oh. I did not notice the number was on the, on the, on the stomach side. I didn’t —

Gelbs: What do you mean?

Hernandez: The number — I didn’t notice!

Gelbs [incredulous]: You didn’t know that there was a number there?

Hernandez: Yeah.

Gelbs: Stop.

Hernandez: I haven’t noticed all spring.

Gelbs [cracking up]: Keith… Keith…

Hernandez:  Forget it. Don’t, don’t pay attention to me.

Gelbs: Mets down to their final strike. Eleven on the back, 11 on the front…

Hernandez: We didn’t have a number down there when I played.

Gelbs: Yeah, you did.

Hernandez: We did? No. Really?

Gelbs: Yeah.

Hernandez: Really?

Gelbs [now sounding less confident]: I think so.

Hernandez: I’ll have to look it up. I know we had the number on our backs.

Gelbs [cracking up again]: Definitely on the backs.

[Segment mercifully ends.]

Just for the record, Hernandez did indeed wear front jersey numbers when he played for the Mets:

Or at least he usually wore front numbers. But there’s a catch: Hernandez played for the Mets from 1983 through 1989, and if you look at the team’s uniforms from that span, you can see that the 1988 and ’89 road jerseys did not have front numbers — a rarity in Mets uni history. So instead of having a brain cramp, maybe Hernandez was just thinking of this:

(Big thanks to Twitter-er @acinformal for bringing this one to our attention.)

Comments (19)

    I always liked the way that block New York looked on the 1988 jerseys — but it’s too similar to the Yankees road letter for the Mets to use it. Plus, the Mets current — and original — road uniform design is the best in the game! It’s nice to see the one-year design from 1987 come back on the batting practice caps!

    If you ask me, someone high up in management said, “If we look like the Yankees, maybe we’ll *play* like the Yankees.”

    They’re definitely tucked away more on the ribs than in Keith’s day. The 2024 number aligns under the “s” and back in 86, it looks right under the “e”. The front numbers are slowly creeping towards the back.

    He’s how old now and that was how many years ago? I don’t fault him for not remembering this as it’s a minor detail to him.

    Didn’t Keith once say he loved wearing Cardinal powder blue in his MVP year, which is also wrong? I’d say Keith Hernandez is a better ball player and storyteller than a historian, at this rate
    We all know Keith loves powder blue because he thinks of his hometown San Diego Chargers

    Keith played for the Cards when they wore powder blue. He was traded in 83 and they didn’t switch to gray until 85.

    And he would get points for remembering there were no front numbers on those powder blues, but TV numbers on each sleeve. One of my favorite uni curiosities.

    That’s how starts.
    One minute, you’re forgetting what the uniform you played in looked like.
    The next minute, you’re at Shady Acres Retirement Home wondering “How did I get here?”

    Elaine was right for rejecting him, he’s a nitwit. But there’s no question there was a second spitter.

    The big question is, why are they wearing a Little League team’s uniforms?

    I’m not much of a fan of Keith, and as a John Sterling fan I should definitely know better than to throw stones from my glass press box, but I found this pretty funny and actually like Keith a little more for such a goofy moment.

    Long may Keith give color commentary to the Mets games. The combination with Gelbs works really well.

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