STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Having grown up in Virginia, an area that's seen its share of hurricane damage, Mets third baseman David Wright could speak with authority on the topic when he returned to New York on Thursday, about a month after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the city.
Wright, who recently signed a deal with the Mets to stay with the organization through 2020, was flanked by Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, New York City Councilmember James Oddo and Chancellor of New York City Department of Education Dennis Walcott at P.S. 38 in Staten Island, where 80 percent of the students were impacted by last month's storm.
There, Walcott announced that Wright and the Mets Foundation would donate $250,000 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City to support hurricane relief efforts.
"I'm from an area in Virginia that is affected by hurricanes, so I understand coming back stronger," Wright said. "I understand the rebuilding, when communities get together to help each other out. Like I told them, I think a lot of times, the community becomes stronger and more closely knit and better than ever after these types of efforts, because you see the good nature in everybody and the good nature in your neighbor."
Wright took time out of his busy offseason -- he was at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this week to help announce his contract extension -- to meet with fourth- and fifth-graders at the school, take photos and sign autographs and even take some hacks at a few whiffle ball pitches from Oddo.
"He will go down as the greatest Met of all time," Oddo said, after listing off some of the franchise's most legendary players and recounting his lifelong fanhood of the team.
"Anyone who knows me, knows I'm obsessively compulsive about my baseball," Oddo said. "And they know that even if I didn't want to, and there were times lately where I might not have wanted it to, orange and blue run through veins. My parents were from Brooklyn, we're a National League family. [The Mets] moved here in 1963, and we became Mets fans. Mets events, good and bad, are like the soundtrack to my life."
Wright's appearance and donation came as no surprise to Wilpon, who described the six-time All-Star's unique qualities that make him a foundation with the Mets and in the city.
"This just proves it," Wilpon said. "To come out here and to team up with the Mets Foundation, to do this kind of donation -- you know enough ballplayers, they don't all do it. And he does it. And he was happy to do it after all the travel and all the stuff we just went through, the weeks of negotiating.
"He's very real, and he's always been real."
Wilpon noted that the winter was "shaping up as expected," and said general manager Sandy Alderson was continuing to talk to NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey's camp about a possible contract extension. Whether Dickey is along, or New York decides to trade him for other talent, Wright said the future looks bright for the Mets. Without the opportunity to win on the horizon, Wright said, he wouldn't have agreed to the extension.
"I signed back here to win, to be competitive," Wright said. "Obviously, there are steps to winning a World Series. But I didn't sign back here to continue to be on fourth-place teams the way we have the last few years. I came back here to be a part of this process that gives us a chance to win and win annually."