Q&A with Mookie Wilson

Mookie Wilson was an outfielder with the New York Mets from 1980 - 1989 before finishing his career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991. He was one of the most popular Mets in team history. He is best known for one at bat in game six of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox when he fouled off pitch after pitch before hitting a ground ball to first base which went through the legs of Bill Buckner, allowing the winning run to score.

The Mets then went on to win Game Seven of the World Series. He returned to the organization as a member of the Community Outreach Program and a roving minor league instructor in 1993. He became the first base coach for the Mets for the 1996 through 2002 seasons. In 2003 he was named the Manager of the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League, a position he continues to hold this season. I met up with Mookie during my annual trip to Kingsport to watch the Kingsport Mets (K-Mets). He was gracious enough to grant me an interview for NYfansonly.com.

NYF: I read years ago that you got the nickname Mookie from the way you pronounced the word milk. Is that true or is it legend?

Mookie: I heard that story too. But there really is no explanation for the nickname. I guess they had to write something.

NYF: Do you remember a special that WNEW TV in New York ran on you and Dyer Miller when you were both at Tidewater (now Norfolk) called, "One Step Away"? There was a scene where they showed you and your wife being married at homeplate before a game in Jackson, Mississippi when you were playing double A. What made you decide to do that?

Mookie: Yeah, I remember that. (Getting married at homeplate) It came about by accident. Originally a private ceremony was planned. The GM of the team heard about it and asked my fiancé, now my wife, about getting married on the field. By the time it came back to me I was told my wife had said, "yes". What was I going to say, no?

NYF: I notice your family was with you here last year and this year at Kingsport. They were also with you in St. Lucie during the Organizational meetings last October. Has this always been the case or did it evolve?

Mookie: The family has always been with me. It was something me and my wife wanted to do. It was not always easy when I was in the minors.

NYF: What got you into coaching? Was this something you always planned on doing?

Mookie: No, coaching was the last thing I wanted to do. I thought about the long hours and that it was a thankless job, but the Mets asked and I said, "yes". It has been more fulfilling than I thought.

NYF: Your last year as a player was 1991. Why did you leave the game?

Mookie: I was injured in 1991. I did not want to go through surgery to give it another shot. My arm was bad. I was unable to throw or swing a bat.

Mookie went on to explain that he did not know much about the advances in modern medicine back then. However, he did have surgery on his arm in 1999.

NYF: Did you have surgery in 1999 because you had difficulty doing normal every day activities?

Mookie: Yes. I couldn't do my favorite thing, fishing. I was unable to cast.

NYF: Knowing what you know today, would you have had the surgery?

Mookie: Oh, yeah.

NYF: A question you probably have been asked many times. How confident were you during the at-bat in game six of the 1986 World Series?

Mookie: I don't know how confident I was. I was determined not to be the last out.

NYF: Everyone remembers game six of the World Series, but seems to forget game six of the National League Playoffs which went 16 innings. Which game do you think was more exciting?

Mookie: Houston. The whole series was exciting. I don't know why. Maybe it is because more was on the line. Also, Houston matched up well with us pitching wise.

NYF: One of the Mets, I believe it may be Wally Backman, in speaking of the Met-Astro series, said that the difference between the teams is that the Mets had the deeper bullpen.

Mookie: Yeah, our bullpen did the job.

NYF: Is there a former manager either in the minors or majors that you pattern yourself after?

Mookie: Cito Gaston, and Bob Weldon my Double A Manager. They were similar. They were not screamers and neither am I. They were both disciplinarians in a mild way. You need to respect the players even at this level.

NYF: What abilities are needed to be a minor league manager?

Mookie: Patience. Lots of it. Trying to develop a a managerial style in the minors will only bring trouble. Players are different at each level.

NYF: How are the K-Mets shaping up?

Mookie: We have some work to do. I've seen some encouraging things. I try to get the players to relax and enjoy the game first. To help develop the players to perform well consistently. Its hard to say how far they will go.

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