Would Keith Hernandez let Shohei Ohtani wear his retired No. 17 with Mets? It doesn't sound like it

Keith Hernandez appears to be more protective of his retired number than Joe Namath is

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Keith Hernandez (L) was asked whether he would allow Shohei Ohtani (R) to wear his retired No. 17 jersey in the event the Mets sign the two-way superstar.

The Mets may very well prove to be the team that offers Shohei Ohtani the most money in free agency.

But there's one thing they might not be able to give him.

During Wednesday night's Brewers-Mets broadcast, SNY's Gary Cohen asked Keith Hernandez if he would let Ohtani wear his retired No. 17 jersey in the event the Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar signs with New York. And the Mets legend didn't seem very open to the idea.

Here's how the exchange went:

Cohen: "If Ohtani were to sign with the Mets, would you allow him to wear his No. 17?"

Hernandez: "Well he couldn't."

Cohen: "Well with your permission he could."

Hernandez: [Brief pause] "Don't ask."

Cohen: "OK, I will drop the subject right there."

Hernandez spent six-plus seasons in the Big Apple, making three All-Star Games, capturing six Gold Gloves and helping the franchise win the 1986 World Series. The Mets retired his No. 17 last July.

Hernandez's comments come just months after a fellow New York sports legend did offer up his retired jersey number to an active player. In January, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Namath said he would allow Aaron Rodgers to wear his retired No. 12 if Rodgers was traded to the New York Jets. Rodgers did eventually get dealt to the Jets, but he opted to change back to his college number (No. 8) instead of taking Namath's No. 12.

Ohtani, who could command a record-setting contract in free agency this winter, has donned the No. 17 since coming over to MLB in 2018. The 2021 AL MVP did, however, wear No. 16 with Japan during the country's 2023 World Baseball Classic championship run, and that number is currently available on the Mets.

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