Comedian Jim Breuer may be best known for playing a stoner icon in the cult classic “Half Baked” or for his role as Goat Boy on “Saturday Night Live,” but among New York Mets fans he’s just as recognizable as one of the most vociferous members of the Flushing faithful.
A Long Island native with lifelong ties to the orange and blue, the 51-year-old endeared himself to the fan base during New York’s pennant-winning 2015 season when his selfie-style video reactions to the Mets’ daily fortunes became popular on social media. Rather than watch the action from a suite like many celebrities prefer, Breuer can often be seen cheering amongst the crowds at Citi Field.
While his energetic and offbeat style makes him an ideal fit for the stage, the “SNL” alum is just as comfortable discussing the history of his favorite baseball team. A follower of the Amazins since 1973, Breuer reflected on Mets third baseman David Wright and what the team captain meant to him personally over the course of a storied career.
“He was the guy, you know? I’ve only went through two cycles of players where I got to watch them come out of the system,” Breuer said during a recent phone interview. “Watching him come through the system and then become that Met guy was really awesome because there really hasn’t been once since the ’80s.”
Drafted by the Mets 38th overall in 2001, Wright was the longest-tenured active player to spend his career with the same team. Until returning to action last Friday night as a pinch-hitter, the seven-time All-Star had missed almost two and a half years with debilitating back, neck and shoulder injuries. The franchise leader in hits, RBIs, runs, extra-base hits, walks and a few other offensive categories, Wright played in his last major league game on Saturday in front of 43,828 emotional supporters whom he addressed in a brief on-field ceremony following the last out.
Currently on the road performing stand-up and touring with Metallica, Breuer planned to watch the night play out backstage on his iPad as he prepared for a private show in San Francisco. Wright’s 2-year-old and infant daughters were in the ballpark, however, to witness him play for the first time in the 35-year-old’s big league career.
“I always say God has you out there for the right reasons. For all you know, he needs to be home with his little girls. He needs to be taking care of his body for something deeper that may happen down the road, so in the end it doesn’t even matter if his kids saw him play,” Breuer said. “My kids have no clue that I did TV and stuff. They just care that you’re a dad. My wife just cares that I’m a husband, and maybe at this point in his life it’ll be a little more important for him and he can relax and give his body a rest and know that he gave it his all and he was one of the all-time greatest.”
Wright provided many memorable moments since first appearing as a fresh faced 21-year-old from Virginia, but one in particular that stands out for Breuer came in a key game down the stretch in 2015 against division-rival Washington.
“That summed up a career and his life as a Met. As a Met fan I felt like one of my children just felt that all-time, lifetime moment,” Breuer recalled. “I believe it was against the Nationals and they were coming to the final stretch and there was a play at the plate and he slid in and he got up and he did the big fist pump down, and you see that clip a bunch of times now. I’ve been seeing it more and more. I remember watching that moment and seeing the excitement in his face, and that thrill and the passion. For me that’s the moment I’m going to remember (from) him forever. The passion he had as a Met. The thrill of feeling that we can win this. We can beat these guys. We can take it all.”
Wright’s enthusiastic reaction after sliding in safely with an important run late in that game was both exciting and also somewhat out of character for the typically-reserved Mets captain. In fact, Breuer wasn’t convinced early on that Wright had what it took to be a leader based on his calm demeanor. That all changed when the third baseman stepped in after separate incidents where two of the club’s young pitchers behaved in a manner he thought was unbefitting of a major leaguer.
“There was a long time where people would say he needs to be the leader, he needs to be the captain, and he’s got such a soft, I don’t know the exact word, clean-ish personality. And I went, I don’t know, is he really the captain?” Breuer said. “But I have to say, you’d see little examples which made me respect him so much more. He looked like a timid guy and he seems to be the guy that, I wouldn’t say is a pushover, but can easily be like, ‘ahh, just let it go, it’s all good.’ But there were a couple moments where Noah Syndergaard came up and I believe he stepped up and said something to Noah.”
Breuer added: “And then that whole thing with Matt Harvey. I remember that moment too, when Matt was walking in the outfield (during batting practice) and they showed it and David Wright kind of gave that ‘You just disrespected the team, bro. You put yourself ahead of the team.’ look. That was a powerful moment for me as a fan, not so much against Matt but I saw that full-blown respect like, ‘hey, David’s in charge here and he sets a tone on how you’re supposed to be as a player and as a gentleman.’ It almost goes up there with, I got to say, like a Gary Carter but without the high intensity.”
Jose Reyes, Wright’s partner on the left side of the infield for many years, took his usual place at shortstop for Saturday night’s sendoff and shared several laughs and embraces with his old buddy throughout the evening. A former batting champion who led the NL in stolen bases three consecutive years, Reyes batted just .189 this season and his career may also be coming to a close, a fact not lost on Breuer.
“I say he was one of the most exciting Mets that I’ve ever watched and rooted for in my whole life. I love Jose Reyes,” Breuer said of the former shortstop who was brought back to the Mets in 2016 after his domestic violence suspension ended. “I loved him from the moment he showed up. I was absolutely heartbroken when he left. When he came back I know he wasn’t the same player. I don’t care. It’s like having an old family member. He gave me the greatest thrills for the longest time as a Met fan. I adore Jose Reyes and he’ll always have a special place for me in my heart as a Met fan. He’s one of my all-time favorites. Everything about him. That smile, the years when he would just get on base and be a menace to society. He’d hit one in the gap and before you blink he was on third and it was over.”
Wright has stated that he’d like to stay involved with the club in some capacity, a development that could provide some consolation to Breuer and his fellow Mets fanatics.
“I hope he stays in the organization forever. That would mean so much to me as a Mets fan, to see David Wright always be a Met,” Breuer hoped. “I feel better as a Met fan moving forward knowing that he’s going to be somewhere in the organization and I hope Jose Reyes is, too.”
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports