1986 Mets: Where are they now?
It has been 29 years since the New York Mets won a World Series, but every Mets fan who was alive to see it -- and even most of those who weren't -- can tell a story about that memorable series.
We tracked down a number of players from that team to share their favorite memories, as well as some thoughts on the 2015 squad.
Bobby Ojeda, LHP
As a Mets starter in 1986, Ojeda compiled an 18-5 record with a 2.57 ERA. He pitched Game 3 of the World Series, winning 7-1, and also started the famous Game 6.
Ojeda decided to spend this season at his home in Rumson, N.J., with his family, making some sporadic appearances as an analyst throughout the year, "and then all of a sudden the Mets caught fire," he said with a laugh. "So now I'm running around like crazy," appearing as a guest analyst on various shows.
"[After we won the World Series], I remember going out on the mound at Shea Stadium," Ojeda said. "I was there with my champagne with my guys and I said, 'C'mon guys, let's go to the mound. We're going to toast these fans.' And I remember the guys jumped in with me, sat on the mound and just took it all in. The people, just what they meant to us, what the fans still mean to us to this day."
Ojeda spoke about the 2015 Mets' incredible run to the postseason following a key acquisition prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"When Yoenis Cespedes came on, if that trade had not had happened, even if it hadn't been Cespedes, something needed to be done with the offense because the pitching was over the top," Ojeda said. "The fact that they did something, I think, was important. No one could have foreseen what he did, but the change boosted the whole lineup.
"I felt like the way they were playing in the second half, the way they were hitting, the fact that the pitching was so consistent all year long, the fact that in the second half there was no swoon, the fact that ... no one came up lame, the fact they just kept coming at you, the consistency of Familia. I felt like it's theirs to lose."
Howard Johnson, 3B/SS
"The key things about this Mets team are their deep pitching and timely hitting. That formula works every time. Plus, they are doing the little things that sometimes don't show up in the statistics."
Two-time All-Star Johnson was just 25 years old in 1986. He had seven at-bats in the postseason and a perfect view for the end of World Series Game 6: He was in the on-deck circle. Following his retirement, he was a Minor and Major League hitting coach with the Mets and Mariners, and he will be with a new team in 2016. He lives in Nashville, Tenn.
"In Game 6, I remember in the last inning, Gary Carter was due to be the third hitter and he was walking back and forth in the dugout, telling anyone in earshot that he was not going to make the last out of the World Series," Johnson said. "He'd look you in the eye and say it, then say it again, and it made you not want to be the last out, either. Then he goes up and fights off a bunch of two-strike pitches, then gets a base hit to start the rally.
"I was on deck when [the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs] and I think my favorite memory of the whole World Series is being by home plate watching Ray [Knight] come in to score the winning run. I think I threw my bat straight up in the air. That memory is just burned into my brain.
"Mookie [Wilson] hit that ball so slowly, I thought he might have a chance to beat the pitcher to the bag. And Billy, he had on those big old Nike high tops they had just started making and he could hardly move, and the Shea Stadium infield was certainly not the best in the league. It was like rocks and gravel at some times, a very difficult infield to play because you couldn't time the bounces. It was the perfect in-between hop that he ended up getting. The ball stayed down on him. I can still see that in my head; no one realized how difficult a play that was."
Ed Hearn, C
Hearn played three seasons in the big leagues. Following his Major League career, he successfully battled cancer and underwent three life-saving kidney transplants. Hearn is a motivational speaker and the author of Conquering Life's Curves: Baseball, Battles & Beyond. He lives in a suburb of Kansas City.
"That was my rookie season and I backed up Gary Carter. I was told going into the playoffs, 'You will not be used unless it's an absolute emergency, because if you pinch-hit and Carter goes down, we have no catcher,'" Hearn said. "Everyone really feared not having a third catcher.
"So it's Game 6, and all of us are very superstitious, we have our rally caps on and whatnot, and I'm in the dugout watching. I had been moving around from place to place trying to find that magic spot that worked, and I ended up right next to the cameras on the top step of the dugout. From there, I had a great view of the stands behind home plate. All the Mets families and friends were on the first-base side, and all the Red Sox families were on the third-base side. So we get to that two-out, two-strike situation the first time, and the Red Sox fans are just ecstatic. And our side, it was like someone was dying, like it was the end of the world.
"My favorite memory is watching the transition from the top step of the dugout, watching the fans behind home plate go totally opposite as we came back and tied the game and then won, inside of 10 minutes, which seemed more like 10 hours. The Mets crowd was thirsty, they were so hungry for a winning team and they kept trying to stir us and when the tide turned, they got really nuts. And that pocket of Red Sox families and friends went from jubilant craziness to looking like they were sitting at a graveside. I will never forget watching that."
Doug Sisk, RHP
Sisk was a reliever who was known for a sinker that was difficult to hit for power. In more than 500 big league innings over nine seasons, he gave up just 15 home runs. He lives in Tacoma, Wash., and he is in wine sales.
"The memory from the 1986 World Series that sticks out more than anything in my mind is the end of Game 7, when were all out in bullpen. Jesse Orosco was on the mound and [manager] Davey [Johnson] had sent Dwight Gooden to the bullpen in case there was a problem," Sisk said. "Dwight was loosening up, and there were dozens of horses with police officers with their shields and helmets on stacked together in the bullpen. The fans had basically destroyed the field after we clinched the division, and [general manager] Frank Cashen did not want it to happen again. The horses were out there along the warning track as kind of a show of power, and they ended up in the bullpen.
"So Dwight's loosening up, and each time he would hit the glove, the horses would freak out because it sounded like bullets and the police officers were having a hard time keeping the horses steady. Dwight, he just kept throwing, but I thought, 'This is not something you see every day.' And when we won, the fans did not run onto the field."
Kevin Mitchell, OF
Mitchell was a two-time All-Star and the 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner. As a Mets rookie in '86, he played 108 games, scattered over six positions: left field, right field, center field, shortstop, third base and first base. Mitchell lives in Palm Springs.
"All season long, I was really only used against left-handers, so I was surprised I even played in the game," Mitchell said. "But Davey used me that night to pinch-hit against Calvin Schiraldi, who was a righty. Calvin was my roommate in Double-A and we always used to talk about how he would pitch me if I ever faced him. And he did exactly what he said he would. He started with an inside fastball, which I took, and followed with a slider, and I hit it. And if he hadn't thrown that slider, I was leaning so far over the plate anything else would have hit me.
"And then I scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-3, and watched from the dugout when Mookie got up with Ray Knight on second base. The best thing ever happened to me was when Bill Buckner missed that ball."
Here is a look at what some other prominent members of the 1986 Mets are up to today.
RHP Rick Aguilera, a reliever who was credited with the win in Game 6, played through the 2000 season and retired with 318 saves. Before the 1989 season ended, Aguleira was packaged with three others pitchers in a deal with the Twins for Frank Viola. Aguilera was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in '08 and lives with his family in Southern California.
2B Wally Backman, who started four games and posted a .429 OBP in the World Series, has managed in the Mets' Minor League system for the past six seasons, including the past four at Triple-A. He was named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2014.
C Gary Carter led the Mets with nine RBIs in the World Series and ignited their 10th-inning rally in Game 6 with a two-out single. Carter ended his playing career with 324 home runs in 1992. He went to manage Class A teams for the Mets and nearly was hired by the Yankees to manage their Triple-A affiliate. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 but passed away at the age of 57 in '12 after battling brain cancer.
RHP Ron Darling, the '86 Mets' No. 2 starter who started Games 1, 4 and 7, broadcasts Mets games for SNY and also works for TBS, including this postseason.
CF Lenny Dykstra hit .296 with two homers in the World Series, including a leadoff shot in Game 3 after the Mets lost the first two games. He since has encountered legal and financial trouble, serving 6 1/2 months in prison before being released in June 2013. Now 52, Dykstra recently told the New York Daily News that he is working on an autobiography.
SS Kevin Elster, a rookie in 1986, played in only 19 regular-season games and made his lone World Series appearance off the bench in Game 6. He played his final game in 2000, when he hit the first home run in the history of AT&T Park (then called Pacific Bell Park).
LHP Sid Fernandez appeared in three games out of the bullpen, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts in Game 7. The two-time All-Star spent 10 of his 15 big league seasons with the Mets, last playing with the Astros in 1997.
RHP Dwight Gooden, the 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner, took the loss in Games 2 and 5. He last played in 2000, was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in '10 and now runs a sports management company with his son, Dwight Jr.
OF Danny Heep, who started three games in the World Series, also won a championship with the 1988 Dodgers and played his last game in '91. He has spent 18 seasons as the head baseball coach at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, and the program joined the Division I ranks in 2014.
1B Keith Hernandez, an NL All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner in 1986, finished his 17-year career in '90 with nearly 2,200 hits. A Mets Hall of Famer, he has called the team's games as an analyst for SNY for the past 10 seasons and also acted in commercials for Just for Men, following up his famous appearances on Seinfeld.
3B Ray Knight hit .391 with a 1.005 OPS to earn World Series MVP honors and also scored the winning run in the 10th inning of Game 6 to cap the Mets' famous comeback. He managed the Reds from 1996-97 and now covers the Nationals as a MASN studio analyst.
OF Lee Mazzilli, who picked up two pinch-hits in the World Series, managed the Orioles in 2004-05 and also has spent time as a coach with the Yankees and a studio analyst for SNY. His son, L.J., played for the Mets' Double-A affiliate this season.
RHP Roger McDowell, who came out of the bullpen for five World Series appearances and was the winning pitcher in Game 7, just completed his 10th season as the Braves' pitching coach. He and his family reside in Marietta, Ga.
LHP Randy Niemann was one of two players on the Mets' 24-man World Series roster who didn't play in the Series. Hearn was the other. He pitched for one more season, with the Twins, after '86 and ended his active career at eight years. After retiring, he served the Mets in multiple capacities in the Minor Leagues (17 years) and big leagues (seven years), beginning in 1989 and running through 2011. He left the Mets to coach for Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox in 2012. That assignment and Valentine lasted one year, and Niemann, 59, moved on to the Cardinals' Minor League system, where he remains.
LHP Jesse Orosco saved two World Series games, recording the final out of Game 7. He went on to set an MLB record with 1,252 games pitched, taking the mound for the last time in 2003, when he was 46.
SS Rafael Santana, who started every game of the World Series, is the field coordinator at the White Sox Dominican Republic Academy. At age 57, he is spending his offseasons in Cape Coral, Fla., still hoping for a job as a big league coach. Santana had worked in player development and coaching for the Royals and Red Sox before moving to the White Sox. His son Alexander is a third baseman who was drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
RF Darryl Strawberry, the 1983 NL Rookie of the Year Award winner and a seven-time All-Star with the Mets, played his final game in '99 and was inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame in 2010. Now an ordained Christian minister, he and his wife run Darryl Strawberry Ministries.
2B Tim Teufel, who went 4-for-9 with a homer over three starts, has been the Mets' third-base coach since 2012. He previously managed eight years in the organization's Minor League system.
OF Mookie Wilson famously hit the ground ball that went through Boston first baseman Bill Buckner's legs to win Game 6. A Mets Hall of Fame inductee in 1996, he has worked for the organization in several roles, including big league first-base coach (most recently in 2011), Minor League manager, ambassador and roving instructor.