Bud Harrelson’s Mets kept showing up.
BY MATTHEW HEIN
[This piece originally appeared in the summer 2011 issue.]
BUD HARRELSON, SUPER SHORTSTOP is the title of a throwaway book I briefly owned, but that’s not the book that made me a Mets fan. That book is How to Play Better Baseball, written by the super shortstop himself and edited by Joel H. Cohen. With my mom standing somewhere behind me, I picked that book off the shelves of a public library in the Pacific Northwest of the late 1970s. Bud Harrelson’s self-identification as a “little guy” in his introduction got me right away. He wrote that “big guys,” around “180 pounds,” play other positions, but that a slick-fielding little guy could play shortstop. Harrelson did just that, wearing a (presumably extra-small) Superman T-shirt under his uniform, and contributing to Met roommate Tom Seaver’s incredible outings as the pair played in the 1969 and 1973 World Series.
In fact, Tom Seaver was injured on the bench for the opposing 1986 Red Sox when Harrelson, then coaching third base, waved in the run that scored as a grounder trickled between Bill Buckner’s legs—making Harrelson the only Met in uniform for both of their championships.
Of course, that didn’t happen until I was a teenager, and had lost interest in sports. During those years in the sportless desert, however, Harrelson’s Mets kept showing up in the things I did care about (“It was the year man landed on the moon. The year of peace and love at Woodstock. And the year the underdog Miracle Mets won the World Championship: 1969"). I still like undersized underdogs, libraries, and the Mets; now that the fearsome prospect of ending up in a high school locker room has faded, I like baseball again, too.
Matthew Hein is a writer, critic, and tap dance instructor living in San Diego, California.