There seem to be a lot of 1986 Mets in my Card of the Day series. Rick Aguilera, Mookie Wilson and Bob Ojeda have been covered. Maybe I missed one. Well here is another member of the 1986 Mets family… in this case literally.
Biologically, Preston Wilson is the nephew of beloved Met Mookie Wilson. But by all measures beyond biology, Mookie is his dad. His biological father was Mookie’s brother, thus being the uncle. But Mookie married Preston’s mom, thus making him the uncle AND the step father.
Are you following this? I have no idea what family gatherings were like at the Wilson household.
He was 12 years old when he saw his dad win a World Series with the Mets in 1986. He was 15 when his dad was traded to Toronto.
Preston grew up in South Carolina and was drafted by the Mets in 1992. This was not a sympathy pick nor a “let’s round out the farm system” selection. He was the 9th pick overall. Derek Jeter went 3 slots ahead of him. Johnny Damon, Shannon Stewart, Jason Kendall and Rick Helling went behind him.
He was a solid prospect in the rebuilding Mets system, launching 30 home runs between A and AA in 1997. By 1998, he was in AAA and about ready to make the club. For a fan base still obsessing over the 1986 World Series, Mookie’s son would be a welcome member of the contending squad of 1998.
Preston Wilson did not disappoint. He went 3 for 4 with an RBI in his first ever game. Not to be outdone, he reached base 4 times in his second game, scoring 3 as he helped the Mets top the Cardinals. It seemed too good to be true.
Then he reached base a grand total of once over the next 6 games. He was minor league bound. That was also the end of his time with the Mets.
On May 22, 1998, 15 days after his glorious debut with his dad’s team, Preston Wilson was traded to the Marlins in the deal that brought in a new Mets legend, Mike Piazza.
He played a handful of games for the nominal defending champion Marlins of 1998. In 1999, he played a full season, crushing 26 homers and posting an OPS of .852. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting.
By 2000, as his former team won the pennant, Wilson became a 30 homer 30 stolen baseman, driving in 121 but striking out a league leading 187 times. The Marlins were building something from the ashes of the 1997 purging and Wilson was a part of it.
But by the time the rebuilding came to fruition, Wilson was traded again, this time to the Rockies for Juan Pierre. Pierre was a post season hero for the World Champion Marlins. Wilson led the NL with 141 RBI for an also ran Rockies team.
He spent the next few years bouncing around to different organizations, always with terrible timing. Think about it. He perfectly book ended the two Marlins titles without playing for either one! He was a reverse Jeff Conine.
When Preston Wilson landed in Houston, as shown in this Fleer card wearing a Nationals uni, they were the defending NL Champs but not destined to repeat in 2006. It was not a good match and he was released from the team in August.
The Cardinals needed an outfielder to fill in for the injured Jim Edmonds and Wilson was a low risk option. On August 18, 2016, he played his first game with the Cardinals. He went 2 for 5 with a homer. Five days later he homered again against the Mets.
St. Louis stumbled into the post season where they were clearly going to be overmatched by the NL West Champion Padres. In Game 2 of the Division Series, Wilson got a lead off double in the 4th and came around to score the first of two Cardinals runs that inning. They would win 2-0 and take the series in 4.
While the Padres were vanquished, Wilson’s former team, the Mets, were heavily favored to beat the Cardinals. But in Game 3, he reached base twice and scored both time in the Cardinals 5-0 victory. And in Game 5, he broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI double off of Tom Glavine. The Cardinals would win that game and 2 games later, win the pennant.
Wilson reached base 3 times and scored in World Series Game 3 and was on the field when the Cardinals clinched against Detroit.
Finally Mookie Wilson’s son had his own ring. His timing was finally perfect. A knee injury prevented him from playing beyond the 2007 season. He tried a comeback with the independent Long Island Ducks, a team that was no doubt cashing in on some of the 1986 Mets love.
Now Preston Wilson works for the Marlins as an analyst and MLB Network. This card represents that last gasp of bad luck with his ill fated half season in Houston before finally clinching that title.
He can show off his ring to his dad, who must be glad he adopted him.