As the protagonist to one of the most storied plays in New York baseball history, Mookie Wilson’s 12-year playing career often is boiled down to one whimsical World Series grounder for the Mets in Game 6 that went through the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, leading to a championship one game later.
But there’s more to the man. The swift Wilson ranks second in Mets history in stolen bases (281) and triples (62), and he recorded the sixth-most hits (1,112) and runs scored (592). According to go-to sabermetric stat WAR, he is the franchise’s ninth-most valuable position player (20.8).
“Everyone wants to be recognized and remembered for their accomplishments,” Wilson, 62, told amNewYork in a phone interview while promoting a StubHub initiative with the Mets, “and although that play was a big part of my career, it wasn’t my [entire] career.”
“It did bother me initially, but at this point now, no it doesn’t,” he added. “You have to embrace the history. Your history, the organization’s history — that’s one thing I’ve learned. It took me awhile to get to that point.”
Wilson remains passionate about the Mets, for whom he played nine-plus seasons during the 1980s. The team has been decimated by injuries this season and hovers near the National League basement. It’s a far cry from the magical 1986 season, when they led the majors with a franchise-best 108 regular season victories.
“People always look at that team as a barometer for the Mets. I think that might be a little unfair because that team was unbelievable,” he said. “That was a once in a generation team right there. That was such a rare group of guys, it would be very tough to duplicate that.”
One facet of the ’86 Mets that this year’s won’t match is speed. Centerfielder Wilson was one of three to swipe at least 25 bases that year. Meanwhile, shortstop Amed Rosario leads the current roster with just 10 entering Tuesday’s game against the visiting Cincinnati Reds — part of a greater trend in baseball that de-emphasized stolen bases from its ’80s post-integration peak.
“I don’t know if I fit in [with the modern MLB] right now,” Wilson said, “because my game revolved around speed, and I don’t know if the value of that is the same now. Some clubs might have one or two guys. But as a whole, there’s a big drop off in the ability of guys to run.”