Former Mets shortstop and current Ducks co-owner Bud Harrelson is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, his former wife, Kim Battaglia, said Friday.
“This is a tough one because no one has ever beat it,’’ Harrelson, 73, said through Battaglia from his home in Hauppauge. “But you never know. Never give up.’’
The New York Post first reported Harrelson’s illness.
Harrelson was diagnosed in the summer of 2016, Battaglia said. “He’s not afraid. A lot of people have it,’’ she said, adding that Harrelson remains upbeat.
Harrelson no longer drives and his family is caring for him. “It takes a team to help him, it really does,’’ Battaglia said. “There’s a lot to do. We don’t know where this is going. We’ve never had this before in our family and no doctor can tell you because everyone’s different.’’
The Mets and Ducks praised Harrelson for going public with his diagnosis.
“The entire Mets organization stands behind Buddy in his fight to combat his current health issues,’’ Fred and Jeff Wilpon said in a statement from the Mets. “As a player, coach and manager with us, Buddy always met every challenge head-on. We admire his courage in making his story public so he can be a help to others. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Harrelson family.”
Ducks principal owner Frank Boulton said it’s anticipated that Harrelson will be at Ducks home games this season.
“Buddy’s his own man. He comes to the ballpark, he signs autographs,” Boulton said. “He’s going to continue to come out to the ballpark on his program. He’s always going to be part of the Ducks’ organization. He’s my partner still. He’s going to be a part of this team to the extent that he wants to be and he’s able.
“He loves coming to the ballpark. This is where he feels very comfortable. We’re very happy about that. We want to work with him and we have been working with him in the early stages here.’’
Harrelson, who played for the Mets from 1965 to 1977, was the shortstop for the world champion 1969 team. Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver was his roommate early in their Mets careers.
Harrelson was a coach and then managed the Mets from May 30, 1990, until Sept. 30, 1991. Ducks manager Kevin Baez played for him.
“If anybody can beat this, Buddy can,” Baez said. “He’s always in a good mood. He comes to the park, throws batting practice, hits fungoes still. Just a great man.’’
Harrelson, a member of the Suffolk Hall of Fame, has been a presence at many charitable events on Long Island, starting with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in his playing days.
“He’s been such a huge part of the fabric of Long Island,’’ Boulton said. “When you think about the Mets, he’s always the guy that’s been at the golf outings, he’s the guy that’s called on to do auctions at different fundraisers. The amount of charities, the QuackerJack Foundation, his reach is staggering.’’