NEW YORK -- David Wright often refers to hitting coach Howard Johnson as his "baseball father," his greatest role model in the game. So when Johnson approached Wright this spring and told him he wanted him to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases, the third baseman was skeptical, but open to the idea.
Turns out it was a good one. Wright hit his 30th home run of the season on Sunday, in the process becoming the third Met and the fourth-youngest player to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a year.
"I kind of laughed at the beginning of the season when he told me that 'I want you to be a 30-30 guy,'" Wright said of Johnson. "And here we are in the middle of September, and I was able to accomplish it. I'm extremely proud of it."
Wright now has 30 home runs and 31 stolen bases. Like father, like son.
Only two other Mets -- Johnson and Darryl Strawberry -- have posted 30-30 seasons. Johnson, also a third baseman, did it three times, in 1987, '89 and '91. Strawberry achieved the feat in 1987.
Wright joined the club in the seventh inning, connecting for a homer to right field off reliever Geoff Geary. The home run and stolen base totals both represent career highs.
And while Wright said he's glad to be in Johnson's company, he didn't expect to join his mentor so quickly -- especially not after an April slump that saw him steal only three bases and go without a single homer.
Yet Johnson kept urging Wright through it all. Apparently, achievement loves company.
"HoJo's the key guy pushing me to run more," Wright said. "I laughed at him in Spring Training and especially after the start I had in April."
Wright's blast went into the Mets' bullpen, where bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello retrieved it for the third baseman's collection.
|30-30 club members since 2000|
|Jose Cruz Jr.||Blue Jays||2001||34||32|
And it's quite the souvenir. Wright becomes the first Major Leaguer to post a 30-30 season since Alfonso Soriano last season, and the 30th player to accomplish the feat. He's only the fifth player in history to achieve a 30-30 season before turning 25, and the first since Alex Rodriguez in 1998. The others were Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa and Bobby Bonds.
And while the 30-30 club's 30 members make it one of baseball's more exclusive fraternities, a good chunk of them were on hand to congratulate Wright. Carlos Beltran achieved the feat in a 2004 season split between Kansas City and Houston, and Shawn Green did it in 1998 with the Blue Jays. Both of them, along with Johnson, offered up their congratulations after the game.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.