Mets retire Willie Mays' No. 24 in surprise announcement at Old Timer's Day

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The Mets pulled out a big-time surprise in their first Old Timers’ Day since 1994.

After all of the Old Timers were introduced at Citi Field, the team played a tribute video to Willie Mays, a New York staple during his prime with the Giants before returning as a member of the Mets for the final two seasons of his career.

Mets radio announcer Howie Rose then retold the story of former team owner Joan Payson promising that the number would be retired by the franchise in honor of Mays, but she passed away two years after Mays retired and the honor was never made.

Until Saturday.

The Mets surprised the home crowd and Mets fans everywhere by announcing that as of Saturday, the number 24 would never be worn again by a New York Met, and unveiled the No. 24 that would be lifted above Citi Field to join the numbers of Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Jerry Koosman, and Keith Hernandez, the latter of whom had his number retired earlier this season.

Mays, now 91 years old, couldn’t be in attendance at Citi Field, but sent along a thank you message that Rose read aloud to the crowd.

Mays helped the Mets win the 1973 National League pennant and his number has only been worn sparingly in the years since. Now it will never be worn again.

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Al Bello | Getty Images