Mookie Wilson 1990 Topps- Sully Baseball Card of the Day for January 19, 2017


When I pulled out Hubie Brooks’ card, close to it was this 1990 Mookie Wilson card. And in my mind they will always be connected.

I remember when going to a Mets vs. Phillies game in 1981, both Mookie Wilson and Hubie Brooks were young players for New York, giving fans hope for better days.

Both players followed through on that promise. Only Wilson experienced the glory days in Queens. In fact he was instrumental in the single most famous moment in Mets history.

But this card, which features his stats up until 1989, shows Wilson as a member of the Blue Jays. That is part of a larger story about the dismantling of one of the great teams of the decade.

Mookie Wilson was a college star at the University of South Carolina before being drafted by the Mets in 1977. By 1981, he was a starter on the big league squad and quickly became a fan favorite.

He played hard, he played with enthusiasm, he stole bases and brought energy to the team. He was everything that New York fans REALLY love from their players: He was homegrown and good. He was one of their own.

Wilson became the Mets all time stolen base leader and remained beloved by the fans even as he moved over to left to make room for Lenny Dykstra.

In 1986, everything came together for the Mets. If you have read this far, then you know what I am talking about. And with the Mets season down to the final pitch, Mookie Wilson had his epic 10 pitch at bat which included him avoiding a pitch that went wild and allowed the tying run to score. And of course he hit the dribbler that went through Bill Buckner’s legs, linking both Wilson and Buckner in baseball lore.

The Mets won it all in 1986 and looked like they were going to win for the foreseeable future.

But soon this incredible if combustible group was broken up. First World Series hero Ray Knight left via free agency (which was hard to do in the age of collusion.) Kevin Mitchell was sent packing to San Diego for “exciting as lettuce” outfielder Kevin McReynolds.

Down the line, the team was picked apart.

Rafael Santana was let go after the World Series.

Jesse Orosco was traded after the 1987 season to the Dodgers.

Then after losing the 1988 NLCS to Los Angeles, Wally Backman was sent packing to the Twins for 3 minor leaguers who never made it to New York.

Then between June 18 and July 31, 1989, the team went on a purge.

Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell were shipped to Philadelphia in a disastrous trade for Juan Samuel on June 18.

Then on July 31, Lee Mazzilli was picked up by Toronto via waivers, Rick Aguilera was included in a deal to Minnesota for Frank Viola and Mookie Wilson was dealt to Toronto for reliever Jeff Musselman.

The fun and swagger of 1986 was gone midway through 1989.

By the end of the year Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were gone. By the end of 1990, manager Davey Johnson and right fielder Darryl Strawberry left and the 1991 Mets bore no resemblance to the team that won it all.

Wilson and Mazzilli both played in the 1989 ALCS for Toronto. He tried out free agency but return to Toronto for the 1990 and 1991 season, playing his final game in the 1991 ALCS.

In retirement he coached for the Mets and even managed the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones while his stepson, Preston Wilson, was a member of the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

One of the most beloved figures in Mets history, he was elected to the team’s Hall of Fame.

He should have been a Met for live. Hell, the 1986 team should have stayed together a few more years. But they didn’t. And that’s why Mookie Wilson is preserved here forever as a Toronto Blue Jay.

SID FERNANDEZ – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 27



OCTOBER 27, 1986 – World Series Game 7

There have been Presidential administrations that have not been written about and analyzed with the scrutiny that writers have given the 1986 World Series.

There Series could have a much different legacy had it not been for Sid Fernandez. He did not start Game 7, he did not get a decision nor a save. But he may have set up the clinching of the World Series for the Mets.

I will safely assume that of you read this blog or listen to my podcast, you have an idea what happened in 1986. Let me recap. The Red Sox almost won. The Mets won. Everything else is just details.

Here is a detail almost everyone forgets: The Red Sox collapsed in Game 6, but that wasn’t the end of the World Series. There was a Game 7. If Boston won Game 7, the Game 6 collapse would be remembered as a great game but mainly an annoying delay of the greatest Boston sports celebration ever.

Rain washed away the scheduled Game 7 start, which worked in the Red Sox favor. Bruce Hurst, who looked like he could be the World Series MVP after wins in Game 1 and 5, was able to take the hill over Oil Can Boyd. The Mets countered, as expected, with Ron Darling.

With a day to lick their wounds and their best post season starter on the bump, Game 7 looked like it could be a Red Sox win.

Ron Darling did not have his best stuff. Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman led off the second with back to back homers. Wade Boggs would single in Dave Henderson to make it 3-0 after 2.

In the 4th, the Red Sox were threatening again with a runner on second, 2 outs and Wade Boggs up. Mets manager Davey Johnson had seen enough and summoned Sid Fernandez from the bullpen.

The 24 year old native of Hawaii had a strange year. On the surface, he looked like a legit ace. He was an All Star and finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young voting, recording 16 wins along the way. But his splits showed he was dominant at pitcher friendly Shea Stadium (2.17 ERA) but on the road was more than vulnerable (5.03).

Johnson did not want to start  Fernandez on the road in Fenway Park, a venue that normally eats up lefties. But he was effective with 4 shutout innings of relief in Boston in the Game 5 Mets loss.

For the second time in three games, Fernandez was called upon to put out an early fire. After a walk to Boggs, Barrett got the red hot Marty Barrett to fly to left to end the threat.

Hurst continued to shut down the Mets with a 1-2-3 fourth and fifth. But now Fernandez matched Hurst inning for inning. He did not allow a baserunner after the Boggs walk. He struck out 4 in 2 1/3 shutout innings. The Red Sox offense was firing on all cylinders and could have expanded their lead. Instead it was still 3-0 as the game went to the 6th.

Lee Mazzilli pinch hit for Sid Fernandez and started a rally with a one out single. Eventually Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter tied the game, taking Darling off the hook. Ray Knight’s homer in the 7th off of beleaguered reliever Calvin Schraldi made Roger McDowell the pitcher of record.

The Mets won 8-5 and took the series. Everyone in the world thinks the Mets won on the Buckner error (forgetting Buckner got 2 hits and a run scored in Game 7.)

Fernandez was the pitcher who held the Red Sox bats still for long enough for a Mets comeback. That earns him the title of  Unsung Postseason hero of October 27.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 7, 2014

Boston Globe/WOR TV

Boston Globe/WOR TV

Today on The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast, I pay tribute to two men.

Curt Schilling played the role of the villain in baseball perfectly.

Ralph Kiner lived a full baseball life and was my connection to many facets of the past that are now gone.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 7, 2014