I mentioned last time that I think the Royals Cardinals series is the first one I remember watching with interest. The very next year, I was very engaged in the World Series. I had become a fan of the Boston Red Sox and wanted to see them win. It was looking good until a certain play that we won’t mention that led to an improbable game 6 win for the Mets. They would win game 7 too and break the hearts of Red Sox fans again. But I was conflicted. I was a Gary Carter fan from his days with my other favorite team – the Expos. So I was glad to see him come away a champion.
Let’s take a look at some of the members of the 1986 Mets and their stories of faith in God and the difference He has made in their lives. There are some amazing stories here!
Catcher- Gary Carter
Carter struggled against the Houston Astros in the NLCS, but picked up his game in the World Series. He hit .276 with 2 home runs. You can read the post I wrote about him shortly after his death in 2012. He was my first ever favorite player and I am glad to share the story of the great man of God that he was.
Relief Pitcher Rick Aguilera
Aguilera appeared in 2 games in the World series. He was not great in the series, pitching 3 innings and posting a 12.o0 ERA, but he was the winning pitcher in the now classic game six win. He would go on to win another World Series with the 1991 Minnesota Twins. He is a member of the Twins Hall of Fame. Check out thegoal.com to read what he has to say about following God.
Starting Pitcher Dwight Gooden
One of the best in his era, Gooden burst on the scene as a 19 year old in 1984 winning the Rookie of the Year. He not only avoided a sophomore slump, but his second year is one of the most dominating season by a pitcher in recent history. 24-4, 16 complete games, 1.53 ERA. And the next season, he was part of the 86 champs – his first of 3 World Series rings in his career. Despite his dominance, he never won a post season game (0-4 in his career including 2 losses against the Red Sox in `86). He had some well known off field issues with drugs and alcohol. Gooden is now cleaned up and sober. He has written a memoir that I will read soon. But for now, here is a video of Gooden talking about his book and his recovery. At about the 15 minute mark, Gooden talks about the important role God plays in his daily life.
Outfielder Darryl Strawberry
Another story of fame and fortune taking its toll on a young player, Darryl Strawberry also has battled addiction and poor choices. He was an 8 time All-Star, 4 time World Series Champ, He was rookie of the Year in 1983. He struggled in the `86 World Series, hitting just a hair over .200. He would go on to win 3 more rings with the Yankees mostly as a bench player. But at his peak, he was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. He led the National League in home runs once and hit more than 25 in a season nine times. Since his retirement and through his struggles off the field, Strawberry has turned his life around. He is now an ordained minister and along with his wife Tracy, has started Strawberry Ministries, which exists “to restore lives and relationships”. They have a rehabilitation center to help people battle addiction and share the change God has made in their lives. Here is Darryl sharing his story with CBN
Catcher – Ed Hearn
Gary Carter was a super star, but being a catcher is hard on the body so every team needs a back up catcher. That is the role that Ed Hearn played as a rookie for the `86 Mets. He was the only player on the roster that did not get an appearance in the World Series. After the `86 season, Hearn would play only 13 more games in the Majors. According to his Wikipedia page, he is the only player in baseball history “to win the championship in A ball, AA ball, AAA ball, and in the Major leagues in 4 consecutive years with the same franchise”. His retirement from baseball came due to illness. As you can read in this story from the Utica Observer Dispatch, Hearn’s time away from baseball has been filled with pain, pills and medical intervention helping him deal with 3 kidney transplants and other medical problems. He talks about his his faith in God and reading the bible are vital to his battle with his health. Check out these videos of Hearn speaking at churches and conferences.
Catcher- Barry Lyons
Ed Hearn was not the only “other” catcher on the Mets roster. There was also Barry Lyons. Lyons also made his Major League debut in 1986, playing in 6 games with the Mets. He did not make the post season roster and in fact did not register a hit for the Mets all season, but was given a World Series Ring. Lyons played on 253 games over 7 Major League seasons. After his career ended in 1995, Lyons settled in Biloxi, MS – his hometown. However his World Series ring and much of his memorabilia would be destroyed along with his house in Hurricane Katrina. That event and its aftermath, including the suicide of his brother would lead Lyons into a very dark time in life. He turned to drugs and alcohol, but they did not solve the pain he felt. As you can read in this article from NY Daily News, he went to a faith based rehab center and it changed his life. He now speaks about that changed life wherever he can.
Third Baseman – Howard Johnson
HoJo came to the Mets in 1985, just one year removed from winning a World Series ring with the `84 Tigers. But despite playing in 116 regular season games, he would record only one post season plate appearance – reaching on an error as a pinch hitter in the final game. In `86, he saw more plate appearances (5 over 2 games) but remained hitless in his World Series career. He would play in the majors for 13 seasons. He was a 2 time All-Star and 3 time 30-30 man. But off the field, Johnson’s career began with a choice to honor God through faith. As you can read in this article from the St.Petersburg Times from June 1980, Johnson made a focus of his life studying God’s word and leading the team chapel meetings. He talks more about his journey in this story from the Chicago Tribune
Second Baseman Tim Teufel
Here is some trivia for you. What does the word Teufel mean in German? Answer – Fiend, demon devil. Ironic that someone with that last name is mentioned in a post about Christian Athletes. He played in 2 games in the World Series, batting .444 and hitting 1 home run. Check out his story from TheGoal.com. In it we can read about how in 1991, Teufel understood the gift that Jesus was offereing. He accepted Christ as his Savior. He is back with the Mets this year as Third Base Coach, hoping for another World Series Ring.
Outfielder Mookie Wilson
The man who hit the famous Buckner Ball, Mookie Wilson came into the game as a pinch hitter. He hit .269 in the series, with 3 stolen bases. Check out this story from NY Times which Mookie talks about how even if Buckner caught the ball, Mookie would have beat him to the base. He also talks about the struggles of Major Leaguers to make the right choices and about becoming a pastor. You can also read this article about the relationship that Mookie and Buckner have now on the speakers circuit reliving their famous moment and also sharing about their common faith in God.
The Series is under way. What magic will this year hold? How will those involved be linked to each other and baseball history? Only time will tell.