Prince, coauthor of the highly regarded blog of the same name, examines how the life of the franchise mirrors the life of its fans, particularly his own. Unabashedly and unapologetically, Prince stands up for all Mets fans and, by proxy, sports fans everywhere in exploring how we root, why we take it so seriously, and what it all means.
What was it like to enter a baseball world about to be ruled by the Mets in 1969? To understand intrinsically that You Gotta Believe? To overcome the trade of an idol and the dissolution of a roster? To hope hard for a comeback and then receive it in thrilling fashion in 1986? To experience the constant ups and downs the Mets would dispense for the next two decades? To put ups with the Yankees right next door? To make the psychic journey from Shea Stadium to Citi Field? To sort the myths from the realities? Greg Prince, as he has done for thousands of loyal Faith and Fear in Flushing readers daily since 2005, puts it all in perspective as only he can.
Only one man, Bud Harrelson, can say he was in uniform for both New York Mets world championships: as the shortstop who anchored the infield of the 1969 “Miracle Mets” and then as the third-base coach for the storied 1986 team. In Turning Two, Harrelson delivers a team memoir as he takes fans through the early seasons, sudden success, lean years, and return to glory.
Born on D-day 1944, the Alameda County, California, native made his Major League debut with the Mets in 1965. At 147 pounds he was the team’s Everyman---a Gold Glove, All-Star shortstop who won the hearts of fans with his sparkling defensive skills and trademark brand of gritty, scrappy baseball.
Harrelson recalls how the gentle yet firm guidance of manager Gil Hodges shaped a stunning success story in ‘69. Bud remembers the game’s legends he played with and against, including Hall of Famers Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson (against whom he compiled a .333 career batting average), and his idol, Willie Mays---Harrelson’s teammate on the 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” team. Harrelson writes of his famous fight with Pete Rose in the playoffs that autumn as the Mets upset the Cincinnati Reds to win the National League pennant and squared off against the mighty Oakland A’s in a dramatic seven-game World Series. After retiring as a player, Bud returned to Shea Stadium as Davey Johnson’s third-base coach in 1985 and waved Ray Knight home for the winning run in the unforgettable Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
Harrelson takes us in the dugout and on the field as he tells thrilling tales from his career and speaks candidly of the state of the game today. Turning Two is the ideal souvenir from the first half-century of the New York Mets---and from the pre-steroid era when players played the game the right way and did the little things to help their teams win.
Bud Harrelson in Turning Two
On Gil Hodges
“Hodges accomplished his goal with compassion and a gentle hand and attained discipline simply by being such an imposing physical specimen. He rarely lost his temper, but on the few occasions that he did, you can bet he got our attention.”
On Battling at the Plate
“I have always said I’ll take God to three-and-two and take my chances. I might foul two off before He gave me ball four.”
“Torre hit a smash to me at short and I’m thinking, Don’t screw up the throw; don’t rush it. I knew I could catch it. I just wanted to be sure to make a good, firm throw right at the chest of Al Weis at second base. I tossed it to Weis and he turned it over to Clendenon at first for the double play and we had won the Mets’ first title. We were the first champions of the National League East.”
On Playing with Willie Mays
“I reached up to catch the ball and as I did, I stepped on Willie’s foot. Oh, no!
‘Hey, Pee Wee, what are you doing out here?’ he squealed.
‘I didn’t hear anything,’ I said.
‘I don’t call for the ball,’ he said.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘if you don’t want to get stepped on again, you better start calling for it.’
The next time he was in center field and there was a pop fly, he called for it.”
On Tom Seaver to M. Donald Grant
“Mr. Grant, you know why we’re doing so well? See that little guy in the corner over there”---and he was pointing right at me---“that guy whose salary you cut? He’s the reason we’re winning.”
On Game 6
“I leaned over to Mitchell and reminded him to be alert and be ready to take off if Stanley threw one in the dirt.”
However, this is not a book that focuses on career records. Nor does it concentrate only on the great pitchers of the game. Rather, this is a book that pays tribute to special achievements, some of which were performed in one game, others of which took place during one season, and still others that were an accumulation of related accomplishments performed over an extended period.
In their own way, all were very special. None of these feats was ever duplicated. Each one stands alone as a singular achievement. From Carl Hubbell, who won 24 games in a row; to Bob Feller, who threw 15 strikeouts in his Major League debut at the age of 17; to Nolan Ryan, owner of seven no-hitters. A seasoned baseball writer, Westcott explores these feats and many more in One of a Kind .
In "Winning in Both Leagues" J. Frank Cashen looks back over his twenty-five-year career in baseball. Best known as the general manager of the New York Mets during their remaking and rise to glory in the 1980s, Cashen fills the pages with lively stories from his baseball tenure during the last half of the twentieth century. His career included a stint with the Baltimore Orioles of the late OCO60s and OCO70s, working with manager Earl Weaver and the great teams of the early OCO70s, including such players as Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, and Brooks Robinson. Later, tapped by Mets owner Nelson Doubleday Jr. to bring the Mets to the pinnacle of Major League Baseball, Cashen, with the rise of superstars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, led the Mets to the thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Boston Red Sox leading to the World Series championship in 1986.a
"Winning in Both Leagues" also chronicles the drafting of Billy Beane, who would later be the focus of the "New York Times" bestseller "Moneyball." Cashen, who was a central figure in the fierce competition with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, excelled at building winning ball clubs and remains one of only two general managers ever to win a World Series in both leagues."
Once upon a time, twenty-four grown men would play baseball together, eat together, carouse together, and brawl together. Alas, those hard-partying warriors have been replaced by GameBoy-obsessed, laptop-carrying, corporate soldiers who would rather punch a clock than a drinking buddy. But it wasn't always this way ...
In The Bad Guys Won, award-winning former Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman returns to an innocent time when a city worshipped a man named Mookie and the Yankess were the second-best team in New York. So it was in 1986, when the New York Mets -- the last of baseball's live-like-rock-star teams -- won the World Series and captured the hearts (and other select body parts) of fans everywhere.
But their greatness on the field was nearly eclipsed by how bad they were off it. Led by the indomitable Keith Hernandez and the young dynamic duo of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, along with the gallant Scum Bunch, the Amazin's won 108 regular-season games, while leaving a wide trail of wreckage in their wake -- hotel rooms, charter planes, a bar in Houston, and most famously Bill Buckner and the eternally cursed Boston Red Sox. With an unforgettable cast of characters -- Doc, Straw, the Kid, Nails, Mex, and manager Davey Johnson (as well as innumerable groupies) -- The Bad Guys Won immortalizes baseball's last great wild bunch of explores what could have been, what should have been, and thanks to a tragic dismantling of the club, what never was.