1986 Memories Will Always Come Alive At Shea
By Joe McDonald
FLUSHING, NY - Although it was called a reunion two weeks ago, many of the 1986 New York Mets have enjoyed returning to the organization in one capacity or another. In fact, many of the more notable former players are now or have been employed by the team in one way or another.
Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are now broadcasters, while Gary Carter manages in the minor leagues. Howard Johnson is the Triple-A batting coach, and Bob Ojeda, Mookie Wilson, and Tim Teufel were minor league instructors in the past.
Even Darryl Strawberry, Sid Fernandez and Lenny Dykstra have made appearances for the team in the last few years. But for some of the champions, the rainy Saturday was one of their first chances to be greeted with cheers at Shea Stadium and reminisce about the great season a generation ago.
"The thing I always remember," said reliever Doug Sisk, who is now a wine wholesaler, "was the St. Louis Cardinals at the All-Star Break announcing the fact that it's over, the Mets have won this thing. You never realize until 20 years later how huge of a year that was." Sisk enjoyed his ups and downs during his tenure in Flushing, even being disabled because of ineffectiveness. Yet, even though he says, "being a member of the '86 Mets, wasn't my season," Sisk was proud to be part of the organization that year.
As was Rick Aguilera. A second year player, the future closer of the Minnesota Twins, was the No. 5 starter that season and gave up the home run to Dave Henderson in the 10th inning of Game 6, which forced the team's miracle comeback in the bottom of the inning.
"I recall walking off the field and I felt a couple of horns puncturing through my skull," Aguilera, who is enjoying his retirement, said. "To sit there and there wasn't such an extreme emotion swing in that half hours time. It was an incredible half inning - not for me personally - but one I will never forget."
That inning was also one of the more surreal ones in hitting instructor Bill Robinson's career. A member of the 1979 Pirate "Fam-il-lee" World Series champions, he acted as first base coach that season and greeted each played with his "low 2" as they came to first base. "[The low 2] is just a way of congratulating them," Robinson said. "I remember in the Sixth Game of the World Series, Gary Carter got a base hit and I gave him a two. He said he wasn't going to be the last out of the World Series. Kevin Mitchell gets a hit and he says the same thing. Ray Knight gets a hit and he says the same thing."
Of course, everyone knows what happened next, as Wilson may have had the most memorable at-bat in the history of the club. For many of them, two days later after Game 7 was the last time they tasted a World Series victory.
"It seemed normal to me playing in the World Series," said Kevin Elster. "I though we were going to win three or four championships."
But it was not meant to be, as 1986 was the last Met team to win a title. On one rainy night in Flushing two weeks ago, they all were welcomed and cheered as champions one last time.