Sunday, January 16, 2011

Topps top 60, No. 3: Magical Mookie Wilson

No. 3, 1985 Mookie Wilson

Just try it. Think about Mookie Wilson and not smile.

Oh, sure. Bob Stanley and Bill Buckner might grimace a little.

But everyone else sure seems to have fond memories of the fleet centerfielder with the mega-watt grin.

Even the nickname bestowed on William Heyward Wilson by his grandmother kind of forces the mouth into a smile just by saying it.

Mookie arrived in 1980 when the Mets were still in what Glenn Close called “the quiet years” in the video. It’s only fitting that he was not only still there for the championship, but will be forever linked with its most famous moment.

Every Mets fan knows this by heart. Game Six, tenth inning, Mets down a run. Bob Costas in the Sox clubhouse, Jean Yawkey already fingering the World Series trophy.
After fouling off three pitches, Stanley threw a wild one that Mookie was able to avoid, bringing Kevin Mitchell home with the tying run.

After fouling back several more, Mookie slapped one up the first base line, where it magically got through Buckner’s legs, bringing home Ray Knight.

Get off Buckner’s case. Even if he had come up with the ball, Stanley wasn’t close enough to first to make the play and Mookie’s speed would have placed him there first anyway.

That’s because there’s magic in Mookie, and that at-bat couldn’t have happened to any other player.

He left the team in 1989 in a trade for Jeff Musselman, but Mookie still is ranked second in steals and triples, fourth in at-bats, sixth in games, hits and runs and 10th in doubles.

Here’s how unassuming Mookie Wilson is. He has a commercial drivers’ license because he thought he’d be a truck driver after retiring.

Not a chance. He’s been with the Mets most of the time since, and this year he’ll be back in uniform as the first base coach.

There are many great Mets cards in the 1985 set. The Mookie, which shows him flashing that famous grin, is my favorite.


TheBrooklynMet said...

Nice write up! Great to hear that he will be back as the first base coach.

DP said...

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UK said...

love sports books. I love baseball. But most of the books on this topic I have bought are just not well written. This book ties together the man, the time period in history, and the event (56 games in a row) in a manner that is seldom seen. Kostya has a winner here - I think it may be his first real book although he has published many pieces in the past in article form. I hope he can continue his streak of winners