When the cheers were a little louder than usual on Wednesday night at Citi Field, Wilmer Flores wasn’t quite sure what was going on. But on Friday, after he connected in the bottom of the 12th inning, he knew exactly why the fans were screaming.
The 23-year-old shortstop for the New York Mets knocked a walk-off home run out of the park to give his team a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday evening. As if that weren’t special enough, the game-winning home run came just two days after he was left to cry in the middle of Citi Field as rumors circulated around the stadium that he was about to be traded away from the team he signed with when he was just 16.
“I was sad,” Flores said after Wednesday’s emotional game. “Being a Met forever, all my teammates this year, that’s why I got emotional.”
The trade eventually fell through, and the trade deadline passed on Friday with Flores still on the team. He made the most of it Friday, driving in both runs for the Mets — an ending, for now, straight out of a storybook.
“I’m sitting here looking at some guys who are outstanding writers. Outstanding,” Mets manager Terry Collins said to reporters after Friday’s game. “You couldn’t write that. You guys couldn’t come up with that.”
Collins added that the week’s events showed that New Yorkers, for all the talk of how ruthless and harsh they can be, have a soft spot for those who love them back.
“New York fans get a lot of criticism for being tough. They take a lot of heat for how hard they are on people,” Collins said. “What they did for Wilmer Flores, you’re not going to find in a lot of places.” Flores seems to understand that perfectly.
“I just love being in New York, and the support here is unbelievable,” Flores said. “It makes it fun to play every day. That’s important for me. I hear the fans during the game. I just want to say that I appreciate them.”
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