Mookie Wilson is 60, a number that surely is a bit difficult to believe for Mets fans of a certain age.
But so he is, and he mostly is at peace with his place in baseball history and his role with the Mets. He was set to join his former teammates Saturday to be honored 30 years after winning the World Series.
That includes a “little roller up along first” that eluded Bill Buckner of the Red Sox in Game 6 at Shea Stadium.
It used to bother Wilson that he was most remembered for an E3 in the scorebook, but no longer.
“I think all athletes want to be recognized for what they accomplished and contributed to an organization and to the game itself,” he said in an interview to promote this weekend’s 1986-related festivities at Citi Field. “It seemed that for a moment there, all of that was forgotten or overshadowed by the one moment.
“I can’t even say it was a game; it was one moment. So that felt bothersome. But I’ve come to grips with it, and it’s part of who I am. It’s part of baseball history and it is part of Mets history. Who am I to deny the fans the opportunity to enjoy talking about it and reliving those days?
“When people don’t mention [the rest of my career], you tend to say, ‘Hey, I did more than hit a ball, and it wasn’t even hard-hit.’ But it’s all good. It really is. It’s all good.”
It could be worse, of course. He could be Buckner, whose error allowed the Mets to win Game 6 and eventually the Series in seven. But even Buckner has accepted his place in history — and has forged a friendship with Wilson, not to mention a bond through mutually signed memorabilia.
“His career was a lot better than mine in terms of statistical numbers,” Wilson said. “He had borderline Hall of Fame numbers, and he feels the same way. We have that in common, and I think it helps both of us. It’s very therapeutic for us to talk about it. We’re fine.”
While Wilson fully has accepted his historical fate as a player, more recently he has wrestled with his role in the Mets’ organization. He was dismissed as the first-base coach after 2011 and in his 2014 autobiography wrote bitterly of his demotion from that job to his current role as a team “ambassador,” saying he felt like a “hood ornament.”
“Yeah, I’ve had my disappointments,” he says now. “ ‘Disappointment’ is probably the best way to describe how I felt. But as far as animosity and anger, no, it was never any of that. It might have come out that way, but that was never really the case because we never really parted ways. We always had an association with each other.
“No one always gets what they want. Sometimes we have to play the cards we’re dealt.”
Wilson said he is having “a lot of fun” making appearances at events on the Mets’ behalf for charity, media and season-ticket holders. “It’s not my first choice, but I’m here,’’ he said, “and it’s worked out for me so far.”
Still, he would like another crack at coaching. “Of course,” he said. “It’s what I do . . . We all get older and a little wiser and realize that we have to enjoy life the way it is and realize in life we don’t always get what we want and sometimes we just have to be patient.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s not over, but it’s about opportunities now . . . Baseball is baseball as far as I’m concerned. But right now they’re into analytics and all of that. You just have to wait and hope it comes by. I still have the passion for the game. I still have the passion to coach the game. But we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”
In the meantime, Wilson, who lives in Columbia, South Carolina, works as a minister, drives a truck as a hobby and is working on his second book, which is not primarily about baseball.
He said he is as surprised as anyone that he is 60. “I forget about it sometimes,” he said. “I feel great. That first step in the morning is a little rough. But other than that, it’s good. I’ve been blessed. Health-wise, I really feel good.”
Wilson said that while he sees many 1986 Mets on a regular basis, he is looking forward to those he does not, including Danny Heep and Rick Aguilera.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “Usually a team kind of separates and goes their own way over the course of years and does their own thing. You kind of grow apart. But this team has been different. This team has been close since Day One and still remains that way . . . It’s been a very unique group of guys.”
Wilson has marveled that even fans under 40 feel a kinship to the ’86 team.
“That’s the fun part about it,” he said. “I’m here in New York a lot and I get a lot of kids that weren’t even born yet and they are very familiar with the team. It’s almost like their parents make them sit down and watch videos, like, ‘Here’s something that you must know, that you have to know.’ And I think they pass it down generation to generation.”
Wilson said he was at the Mets’ home playoff games last season and enjoyed watching them nearly win it all again.
“They got to the finish line, they just didn’t cross,” he said. “I was very excited and I watched the team grow up overnight from where it was. A lot of guys I knew from the minor leagues and the way they matured during the season was amazing, particularly the pitching staff. It was a lot of fun to watch.
“It was just amazing. It reminded me of how close we were in ’85 and we didn’t have the finishing touches, which was an experience for us. What a great run they had last year. It ended on a sad note, but they accomplished a lot and should have been proud. I was.”
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