The four men with 1986 Mets ties sat at the table signing “Mookie Wilson” and “Tim Teufel” and “Sid Fernandez” and “Bud Harrelson” for a long line of veterans and staff at the Manhattan VA Hospital on Friday. Dr. Craig Tenner had a baseball to sign, but he wanted to share something else with Wilson.
Tenner said he had a photo of him up in his office. It shows Wilson running to first as the fateful grounder gets by Bill Buckner, capping the Mets’ unforgettable, down-to-their-last-strike, three-run, 10th-inning rally at Shea Stadium in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against Boston. “It reminds me all the time to never give up,” Tenner told Wilson.
Some amazing memories of that resilient championship team were on display Friday. With Memorial Day on Monday, the former Mets gave autographs and did a Q&A with those vets and the hospital staff. Most of that 1986 team will attend a happy 30th anniversary ceremony at 6:15 p.m. Saturday before Mets-Dodgers at Citi Field.
“It was phenomenal,” Ron Joyner, a 67-year-old former Army Specialist, said of this mini-reunion at the VA, “because as a New Yorker and a Mets fan, you’re not going to forget the ’86 Mets.”
Those 108-win Mets ran away with the NL East and beat Houston in the NLCS after scoring three in the ninth inning of Game 6 to tie it at 3-3 in what became a 7-6, 16-inning victory that put them in the World Series.
“When we checked out of the hotel for Game 6, we said if we have to check back in and face Mike Scott the next day, we’re in big trouble,” said Teufel, then the part-time second baseman and now the third-base coach.
The Mets trailed the Red Sox two games to none, then three games to two, then 5-3 with none on and two gone in the 10th in a 6-5 victory in Game 6, then 3-0 in an 8-5 win in Game 7.
“These guys would come right back,” said Harrelson, then the third-base coach. “They did it time after time after time. Good teams do that. Not lucky teams.”
Teufel tipped his figurative cap to Fernandez for Game 7. “Without Sid’s performance,’’ he said, “we’re not here.”
The Hawaiian lefty came on with two outs in the fourth and threw a hitless 2 1⁄3 innings. “I really didn’t hear noise in the stands,” he said. “I just was tunnel vision and I did my job.”
Thirty years later, El Sid and those Mets are reuniting again.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been 30 years,” Wilson said. “The beautiful thing is the relationships have really lasted and grown over the years. It’s always nice to get together.”