It was only fitting that Sirius XM’s Eighties channel was playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” as I drove to Strawberry’s Grill in Douglaston last Friday night. Restaurant proprietor and Mets legend Darryl Strawberry invited a number of his fellow 1986 world champions to celebrate the silver anniversary of that marvelous accomplishment.
Jesse Orosco pitched 21 years in the majors but by his own admission is best known for throwing his glove skywards after striking out Boston Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett to end the decisive seventh game in the Mets favor. He grinned broadly when I mentioned that his reaction on the mound on that magical October night 25 years ago was every bit as iconic as the photo of the sailor who grabbed a nurse and kissed her in Times Square on V-E Day.
Orosco has spent the last few years playing golf in San Diego but told me he’d like to work in baseball again. When I said the Mets need a closer, he laughed and quickly responded, “Well maybe not that part of the game!”
Barry Lyons was the Mets’ perennial third string catcher in the late ’80s. He still lives in his hometown of Biloxi, Miss., which has taken it on the chin the last few years. In 2005 Barry’s home and business were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In 2010 Biloxi, like many other southern coastal towns, was adversely affected by the BP oil spill. “We’ll be OK. Biloxians are resilient,” he said in a reassuring manner. Lyons also indicated that he would like to work for the Mets again and is hoping to manage the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2012.
Kevin Mitchell was a key bench player for the Mets in ’86 and later became a feared slugger for the San Francisco Giants. He’s still upset the Mets traded him to the Padres after ’86 for passionless outfielder Kevin Mc-Reynolds, even though he’s from San Diego. That ill-advised swap was one reason the Mets didn’t return to the World Series for 14 years.
A surprising number of the ex-Mets I spoke to Friday night said they’re angry that they have not yet been invited to visit Citi Field by the Wilpon family, and were critical of the fact that the Mets don’t hold an annual Old-Timers Day like the Yankees do. When I mentioned to the players that Citibank has sponsored Mets alumni to appear at the ballpark in recent seasons, the disgruntled players said they always call on the same guys over and over again.
During the party, the TV screens at Strawberry’s showed a surreal moment in which pre-steroids Red Sox ace Roger Clemens was facing young, scrappy Mets centerfielder Lenny Dykstra in storied Game 6. Both players would later in life find themselves in a heap of legal trouble for differing reasons.
Speaking of 1986, Hollis native and rap pioneer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels gave a rare performance in Manhattan last week as star of the Re:Mix Lab Fueled By Hyundai Veloster festival. The Korean automaker brought in the RUN-DMC co-founder to get some star power for the launch of its new sports car line.