NEW YORK -- As the calendar flips and flips and flips some more, Jesse Orosco can't help but notice the change. The former Mets reliever and Major League Baseball's all-time pitching appearances leader, Orosco lives in California these days, but flies back to New York every now and then for autograph shows or Mets events. From time to time, people on the street recognize him, but not like they did in 1986.
Back then, Orosco and the Mets were kings of the city, capturing New York in a way that no Mets club before or after has ever quite done. So Orosco, like many of his contemporaries, is anxious for what promises to be the most comprehensive reunion of '86 World Series champion Mets ever. The team expects all but a handful of players and coaches to return for a 30th anniversary celebration running Friday through Sunday at Citi Field.
"It's going to be great," Orosco said in a recent telephone interview. "We look forward to it and we appreciate what the Mets do for us, keeping our names out there and bringing us all together. It think it's a treat for the fans to check out the old guys' memories."
From Darryl Strawberry to Dwight Gooden, Davey Johnson to Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson to Lee Mazzilli, the Mets expect a significant turnout for their Citi Field reunion. The highlight is an on-field ceremony scheduled for at 6:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, an hour before that night's game against the Dodgers and it will be streamed exclusively on mets.com.
The crowds and fanfare should be a throwback to what Orosco and his teammates experienced in 1986, at a time when they all but owned the city.
"In '86, as players, we couldn't walk anywhere," Orosco said. "We'd get mobbed. We were current at the time. That was the team, man, and fans were so supportive. They stopped us where we were in our tracks to give us the support. As time goes on, it slowly fades a bit. I walk around and fans still recognize me, but not like before. And I can understand. They're all 30 years or 25 years younger than me. But it's still a feel-good story every time fans come in and reach out to us later in our careers."
A rock of the '86 team, Orosco was a key player in one of its most iconic images: the pitcher throwing his glove in the air and falling to his knees, as catcher Gary Carter sprinted to the mound and jumped into his arms following the final out of World Series Game 7 against the Red Sox.
These days, Orosco remains in close touch with Strawberry and Gooden, and sees Hernandez and Ron Darling and others on occasion. Even so, he struggles to imagine what it will be like to have nearly all of the '86 Mets back on one field again.
"It's like a reunion," Orosco said. "When we appear every five years doing something, we get to see what everybody looks like, what changes happen. So we get to have some fun. We'll have some fun talking about things and just reminiscing. It was just a great squad of guys. We had a great time playing ball together and we put a world championship together. The guys were characters back then. They're characters today. I think it's more fun telling stories as time goes on."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.