Mets Madness

When I sat down to write about the afterglow of the 1986 World Series, I started to consider what it was like to be a fan of a championship-winning team and how that carried over into the 1987 season when I was sure that the Mets would “do it again” as the promos kept saying. But the 1987 Mets were a bit of a letdown (Thanks a LOT, Terry FUCKING Pendelton!) and the afterglow of the 1986 World Series is something that I don’t remember as well as my repeated viewings of 1986 Mets: A Year to Remember had made it seem.

Then, I began to sift through the massive amount of 1986 Mets crap that I own or have owned at one point during the past 25 years, and thought I would simply “catalogue” it.  Partially because I’m lazy and don’t feel like writing anything with an actual point, and partially because even I am amazed at how much stuff there is.

1986 Mets: A Year to Remember.  This is the official team highlight video, which my friends and I rented repeatedly from Video Empire, so much so that it was impossible for anyone to find it because one of us always seemed to have it out.  I do happen to have my own copy because sometime in the late 1990s I rented it one more time and hooked two VCRs together in order to dub the video.

The video itself starts with a highlight of Game Six and then goes month to month through the regular season, with a few montages thrown in, the most famous of which definitely has to be the Len Dykstra and Wally Backman “Wild Boys” video set to the Duran Duran song of the same name, as well as a great clip of Howard Johnson and Roger McDowell telling the audience how to pull the “hot foot” prank on a player.   The playoffs and series are covered as well, with most of the play calling coming from Bob Murphy, the radio voice of the Mets, which I have to say is awesome because as much as I like hearing Vin Scully, Bob Murphy’s voice calling the Mets is one of the best things you’ll ever hear.

Newspapers, yearbooks, and media guides.  Specifically, I have a copy of the official 1986 World Series program, something my Uncle Lou bought for me because he went to, I believe, Game Seven.  It has information about all of the important players on the teams, but also has a great piece about the history of the World Series, detailing the winners and highlights of all of the previous series from 1903-1985.  The Daily News Scrapbook History of the 1986 Mets is something I’ve used for this particular 1986 Mets retrospective, as it contains reproductions of all of the Daily News coverage of the year.  It’s actually an excellent resource because you can read the season as it happened and plus read columns and commentary.  The companion, in a way, to that, are two mini-posters from the Daily News, one of which had a Mets #1 on its front and the team picture on the back, and another with a Bill Gallo cartoon; and an insert from Newsday called “Those Amazin’ ’86 Mets” which really is just a bunch of clips of the team’s season, but does have a great section on how many brawls the Mets were involved in during the season (and features a great shot of Keith Hernandez tackling some Atlanta Braves.  Finally, among that pile is the 1987 Mets Yearbook, which I purchased at my first game in 1987.  I’m not sure I remember who won that game or who the Mets played, but I do remember that I pored over the 1986 highlight section, especially the full-color retrospective of the postseason, which has some beautiful photography.

A 1986 Mets World Champions Trash Can.  Unfortunately, this went the way of the landfill more than a decade ago and I wasn’t able to find a picture of it on the Internet (I am sure that if I were to look through old family albums, I would find it in a Christmas 1986 picture because I’m pretty sure I got it for Christmas in 1986), which ticked me off because it was awesome.  It was a metal trash can with the Mets’ blue/white/orange stripes on the top and bottom, the Mets logo in the center and a list of the players’ names.  It took its fair share of abuse in my bedroom, though, because by the time I left home at 22, the inside of the trash can was both rusted and disgusting and definitely not the type of thing you’d want in an adult apartment.  Okay, I totally would have put it in an adult apartment.  It was just flat-out unsanitary.

One Pitch Away.  This book, which is the players’ account of the 1986 postseason is something I found at random in the summer of 1997 at a Barnes & Noble and read while working the umbrella counter at Robert Moses State Park.  The author follows the stories of key players in each of the three series and gives a very full picture of the roles of people such as Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson, and Bill Buckner, as well as players from the California Angels such as the tragic Donnie Moore.  It was quite a find, to be honest, especially during an era in New York baseball where most of what you came across in a bookstore was devoted to the Yankees.  I mean, 1986 still got a little bit of play here and there in terms of articles in newspapers or magazines (especially when the Yankees went for the championship in 1996 with at least one former Met on their roster), but to see someone devote a significant amount of time to that year’s postseason and treat it with a significant amount of reverence was something special.  Because honestly, aside from the 1991 postseason, I can’t think of one that was as exciting.

The Jewelry.  Jewelry?  Really?  Well, a special sort of jewelry.  You see, I have this collection of lapel pins.  I cannot remember how I accumulated the box full of pins that I have, or that if I actually decided one day to collect these things; all I know is that I somehow wound up with a crapload of them and among those pins are a 1986 25th Anniversary logo pin as well as a replica press pin that says “3rd World Series” that my dad bought for me when we went to a comics and collectibles show in 1993.  The “showpiece” in a way of this part, however, is the replica 1986 World Series ring, which my Aunt Frances gave to me for Christmas, and which I actually have worn on occasion, usually during any “Spirit Week” occasion at work that allows me to wear sports regalia.

Newspaper covers and posters.  If you look on the wall of my classroom, you will see a huge gallery of great New York sports moments newpsaper covers.  I have the Giants’ victories in Super Bowl XXV and XLII as well as the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup victory (Oh, I also have the “Earth to Invaders: Drop Dead” Invasion! edition of The Daily Planet).  But up in the corner are the Daily News covers from Game Six and Game Seven of the 1986 World Series as well as a poster of the Newsday cover from Game Seven.

The Newsday poster is actually a fairly recent purchase, although I honestly can remember seeing it years ago and thinking that I actually had it.  Alas, the 1986 Mets poster I had on my wall as a kid was the videocassette advertisement for An Amazin’ Era, so I don’t know if I dreamt seeing my father take it out of a poster tube one afternoon or what.

A 1986 Champions Stein.  During my sophomore year of college, I went home on fall break and was hanging out with my friend Cathy.  We were more or less completely bored and decided to head out to Roosevelt Field Mall to go shopping that weekend.  Among the places we went were FAO Schwarz, where I bought a Stormtrooper stand-up (remember when those were a thing?  I should do a post on that), as well as the Mets team store, which I had wanted to visit ever since I had heard about it.  I walked out of the store that day with a 1986 Championship stein, which had the 25th Anniversary logo on the front and a rundown of the scores of the postseason games on the back, where I learned that although Roger Clemens started Game Two of the World Series and the Red Sox won 9-3, he is not credited with the win; that honor went to someone named Steve Crawford.

The Bad Guys Won!  I think that just about anyone who was a fan of the 1986 Mets has read this book by now, which is an “insider’s look” at the “bad boy” type of team that these Mets were.  What I loved about this book was that Jeff Perlman actually shares information I wasn’t familiar with (George Foster’s ridiculous moneymaking schemes; Jesse Orosco being one of the instigators of the team’s trashing of a 747 after the NLCS win), and that he also seems to make no apologies for the fact that the team beat the Red Sox, who at the time were the sentimental favorites.  After all, the Sox were fighting the “Curse of the Bambino” and all of the other crap that went along with it, and the fact that they lost Game Six on a ground ball (something the Sports Guy once related as if he were a Vietnam Vet) made the Mets’ victory seem “awful” in a way (at least according to Ken Burns, who seemed to go very Red Sox with that portion of Baseball, which was an insanely boring documentary, btw).  I can’t say I was surprised that my heroes as a kid were a bunch of brawling drunks, but I will say that the lurid details are sometimes unexpected.

The Buckner-Mookie picture.  If there’s a “showpiece” of my accidental collection of 1986 Mets merchandise, it’s the framed and autographed photo of the Buckner play that hangs on the wall of my guest room.  My dad bought this for me for Christmas about ten or eleven years ago, and I have always thought it was one of the coolest pieces of sports memorabilia I have ever gotten.  Granted, it’s not some airbrushed lithograph of Derek Jeter that you can buy at a stand in the SmithHaven mall, but it’s still an amazing piece, especially since Buckner himself signed it, which I think is kind of surprising considering how much grief he has taken for the play (in fact, a recent documentary on Steve Bartman started with the Buckner play).

The Banner.  If anything, it’s appropriate to end this with where it began.  Shortly after the Mets won the World Series, my parents and I were at McCrory in the Sun-Vet Mall, which was a “five and dime” type of store.  I can’t remember exactly why we were there because the Sun-Vet Mall was one of those places that we always seemed to end up for whatever reason every once in a while.  Anyway, on that particular day, there was a host of Mets World Champions merchandise available and I walked away with a 1986 Champions banner, which hung on my bedroom wall for years afterward.  The most peculiar thing about the banner is that Gary Carter’s name isn’t on it.  I think I actually wrote his name on the banner when I was a kid and then, years later, deciding that was a stupid idea, did my best to erase it (you can see it on the blue blur at the top of the “scroll” on the banner). But I think out of all of the pieces I have, it’s the one that I like the most, which is why it hangs proudly over the blackboard in my classroom.

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