Thursday, May 12, 2016

Forgotten Mets of 1986

We all remember Doc, Mookie, Lenny and Keith. Tim, Raffy, Ron and Wally. Jesse tossing his glove. But, how about Stanley, George, Dave and Barry? No team wins a World Series with 8 fielders and a few pitchers. Teams have a 40 man roster for a reason. Guys come up from the minors, guys get released, trades get made. The 1986 Mets were no different. There were a whole host of players that played for that 1986 team that are forgotten to some degree today. 

1986 Donruss #116 George Foster (above)

Foster came to the Mets in 1982 from the Reds. In 1977 he was the NL MVP with 52 HR and 149 RBI. By 1982, though, his best years were behind him and he would hang around hitting the occasional homer until midway through the 1986 season when he was released. The Donruss card above is a great card, Foster looks like he is smiling as a ball exits Shea Stadium. Foster wasn't smiling when the Mets released him in 1986, though. Foster had been benched a few weeks earlier after he was reported as stating ''I'm not saying it's a racial thing. But that seems to be the case in sports these days. When a ball club can, they replace a George Foster or a Mookie Wilson with a more popular white player." This led to some acrimony and back and forth with a few players like Darryl Strawberry and Mookie Wilson (who had recently lost his starting job to the white and popular Lenny Dykstra) expressing some level of support for Foster. The Mets countered that the benching, and eventual release, were for performance reasons. They promptly replaced Foster with the white and popular Lee Mazzilli.

1986 Donruss #632 Ed Lynch

Ed Lynch was drafted in 1977 by the Texas Rangers. He was later sent to the Mets as part of the Willie Montanez trade. Lynch made his MLB debut with the Amazins' in 1980 and toiled away with them through the lean, rebuilding years of the early 1980's. Lynch had surgery in April 1986 for torn ligaments in his knee and, after his rehab assignment was completed he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Dave Lenderman and Dave Liddell. Lenderman never made it past Double A and was out of baseball by 1988. Liddell, on the other hand, has the distinction of having a 1.000 batting average for the Mets. He appeared in one game in 1990, an 8-3 loss to Philadelphia on June 3rd. He singled in his only major league plate appearance, when he pinch hit for Mackey Sasser in the top of the 8th. Liddell subsequently moved to 2nd on a walk, moved to 3rd on a Marc Carreon flyball and scored on a wild pitch by Phillies pitcher Pat Combs. His career wasn't long but it was perfect.

Ed Lynch was reportedly voted a full world series share by his Mets teammates after they won the crown in '86.

1986 Donruss The Rookies #54 Ed Hearn

1986 was Hearn's rookie year and he appeared in 49 regular season games. He hit .265 with 4 HR and  10 RBI. Hearn made the postseason roster as Gary Carter's backup. He didn't appear in any games, however. In fact, he is quoted as saying he was told before the postseason that he wasn't going to appear unless there was a dire emergency. Hearn was traded to the Royals before the 1987 season as part of the deal for David Cone. He appeared in a few games for the Royals in 1987 and 1988, then hung around in the minors until 1990. 

1987 Donruss #642 Stan Jefferson

A first round pick in the 1983 draft, Jefferson was called up in September 1986 and appeared in 14 games for the eventual World Champions. Jefferson had 1 HR and 3 RBI and hit .208. Jefferson didn't make the postseason roster and was traded in the offseason as part of the deal that brought Kevin McReynolds to the Mets. After leaving the Mets, Jefferson played parts of 5 more seasons with the Padres, Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Reds.

1986 Fleer #87 Terry Leach

Leach made 6 appearances for the Mets, giving up 6 hits and striking out 4, in April and May of 1986. He spent the rest of the year at Tidewater (which I still sometimes refer to the Mets AAA team as). Leach would subsequently appear in the 1988 postseason for the Mets and would also appear in the 1991 postseason with the Twins and earn a World Series Ring. Leach retired after the 1993 season.

1987 Donruss #29 Randy Myers

Myers pitched out of the bullpen in 10 games in July, August and September of 1986. He had made his debut the previous year and would eventually be traded for John Franco. Myers later developed into one of the premier closers in the league and would collect a World Series Ring with the Reds in 1990.

1986 Fleer Update #U82 Randy Riemann

Niemann was drafted in 1975, a second round pick of the Yankees. He came to the Mets from the White Sox prior to the 1985 season. In 1986 he appeared in 31 games, ending up with a 3.79 ERA over 35.2 innings. Niemann made the postseason roster but didn't get into any games in either the NLCS or the World Series. Niemann famously sprayed Frank Cashen with champagne while Cashen was being interviewed following the Game 7 win over the Red Sox, to which Cashen replied "Isn't it funny how it's always the guys who do the least that celebrate the most?". Niemann was released just over a month later, unsurprisingly. He lasted one more year in the Bigs, going out for 6 appearances with the Twins in 1987. Cashen apparently didn't hold much of a grudge, Niemann began coaching in the Mets organization in 1988, where he remained in various capacities until 2011.

1987 Donruss The Rookies #37 John Mitchell

A September call up, Mitchell appeared in 4 games toward the end of the season. He started once, a 7-1 loss to the Phillies on September 21. Mitchell wasn't on the post season roster. He would pitch a bit for the Mets in 1987, 1988 and 1989 before finishing up his MLB career in Baltimore in 1990. Mitchell would toil away in the minors and independent ball until 1998, but would never get back to the bigs. Mitchell played for the Newark Bears in 1998, his final year in organized ball.

1986 Topps #339 Bruce Berenyi

After undergoing rotator cuff surgery in 1985, Berenyi returned with the Mets for the 1986 season. He appeared in 14 games early in the season, starting 7 of them. Berenyi was sent down to Tidewater for the remainder of the season and wasn't on the postseason roster. His appearances with the 1986 Mets were his last MLB performances. Injuries ended his career not long after the 1986 season came to its' glorious conclusion.

1985 Donruss #116 John Gibbons

Gibbons was highly touted out of MacArthur HS in Texas and was taken by the Mets in the 1st round of the 1980 amateur draft. Gibbons made his way through the minors, earning some time with the Mets in 1984 (10 games). He spent 1985 at Tidewater and then got in 8 more games with the big club at the tail end of the 1986 season. Gibbons had one big league HR, a solo shot in the 8th inning of a Mets 9-5 win over Philadelphia on Sept. 20, 1986 at Shea.Gibbons was back in the minors for 1987 before he was traded to the Dodgers. He spent the next few years in the Dodgers, Rangers and Phillies organizations and was out of baseball after the 1990 season.

1987 Topps Traded #68T Barry Lyons

Lyons appeared in 6 games for the Mets in April, May and June of 1986. In 9 AB's he failed to register a hit, but did record his first MLB RBI on May 20 when he grounded out to 3rd, scoring Ray Knight in the process. Lyons remained with the Mets until they released him in Sept 1990. He would appear in 212 games for the mets during his career.

1987 Fleer #2 Rick Anderson

Rick Anderson was drafted by the Mets in the 24th round of the 1978 amateur draft. He labored through the Mets minor league system, largely at Tidewater, Anderson made his MLB debut on June 9, 1986 when he started against the Phillies at Shea. Anderson went 7, leaving with the Mets up 2-1. Orosco and Sisk didn't hold up for Anderson though and the Mets lost that game 3-2 in 10. Anderson would appear in 15 games for the Mets in 1986, starting 5 and finishing the year with a 2.72 ERA over 49 2/3 innings. Before the 1987 season started, Anderson was traded as part of the deal, along with Ed Hearn, that brought David Cone to the Mets.

1987 Donruss #575 Dave Magadan

A top prospect at the time, Magadan earned a September call-up in 1986 and wound up appearing in 10 games for the big club, mostly spelling Keith Hernandez at 1st base. Magadan went 8 for 21 for a .444 batting average. Magadan remained with the Mets through the 1992 season when he became a free agent and signed with the Florida Marlins. Magadan would wind up hitting .292 with 21 homers and 254 RBI's during the 7 years he was with the Mets.

1986 Donruss #556 Danny Heep

Heep, originally a Houston Astros prospect was acquired by the Mets after the 1982 season for none other than Mike Scott, who would bedevil the Mets in the 1986 NLCS. Interestingly, Heep faced Scott twice in the series and had success both times. In the 1st game of the NLCS when he pinch hit for Dwight Gooden with the Mets down 1-0 in the top of the 8th inning. Heep promptly singled to center and was replaced with pinch runner Kevin Elster. Elster would make it to 2nd on a Lenny Dykstra single but would remain stranded there after Mookie and Keith Hernandez both struck out.
In the 4th game, with the Mets losing 3-0 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Heep pinch hit for Rafael Santana with 1 out and Mookie Wilson on 3rd. Heep popped a flyball to center, deep enough to score Mookie and record the sac fly. 

In the World Series, Heep started game 3 as the DH. The Mets were down 2 games to none and were back on their heels. They needed a win and a big first inning, in which Heep played an important part, against Oil Can Boyd would eventually lead to a 7-1 Mets win and help get the Series back on track for the Mets. With one out and the bases loaded in the first Heep came up. The Mets were already up 2-0. Heep promptly deposited a 0-1 pitch into centerfield for a single, scoring Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. 

Heep wound up with a 2 or 15 line, 3 RBI against 3 K's in the 1986 post season.

Danny Heep became a free agent after the 1986 season and would play on til 1991 with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Braves. Heep is one of my all-time favorite Mets. My standard answer, when people ask me if I am a Mets fan, is "Danny Heep....Craig Swan.....Del Unser".

1991 Nobody Beats the Wiz #84 Tim Corcoran

In his last major league appearances, Tim Corcoran registered 5 pinch hits and 1 game started at 1B with the 1986 Mets. He had been signed as a free agent prior to the 1986 season and started the year at AAA Tidewater. He came up for a few games in April and went 0-1 as a pinch hitter. He made a return to the bigs in June, went 0-7 and was released on June 9, 1986. Thus ended Corcoran's time with the Mets.

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