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This Date in Mets History: February 9 - Happy Birthday Mookie!

The cheerful outfielder, who was a Mets fan favorite and go-to David Letterman punchline from 1980 to '89, turns 57.

T.G. Higgins / Getty Images

Three Mets celebrate birthdays on February 9 and first and foremost among them is Mookie Wilson. Born William Hayward Wilson, Mookie reportedly got his moniker from family members who were amused by the unusual way he said "milk" as a child. In 1977, he became part of the Mets family when the team plucked him from the University of South Carolina with the 42nd pick of the June amateur draft. Mookie used his plus-speed to advance through the minors with alacrity, swiping bags with an 80% success rate and thwacking triples at every level. A solid September audition with the big league club in late 1980 led to a full-time job the following season and he remained a fixture of New York's outfield for the remainder of the decade.

The second-longest tenured player on the 1986 champs, Wilson's defining moment as a Met came, of course, in Game Six of the World Series. You can watch the relevant portions of his tenth inning at-bat here. While Mookie is remembered most for tapping the roller that got through Buckner, his ass over teakettle dodge of Bob Stanley's slider shouldn't be overlooked. Had the pitch hit him, it would have kept the tying run pinned to third base and given Stanley the chance to go after a less contact oriented hitter in Howard Johnson. Instead, Kevin Mitchell trotted home as Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman hustled to the backstop.

Other Birthdays

  • Todd Pratt, another Mets playoff hero, is 46. Tank ended the 1999 NLDS with a long drive that cleared the centerfield fence at Shea mere inches above the outstretched glove of Steve Finley. The look on Finley's face at the moment he realizes the ball eludes his mitt is still gold 14 years on.
  • Reliever Doug Linton is 48. As a member of the relief corps in 1994, Linton never had the chance to pitch for the Mets in October. He did rack up a 6-2 record in 32 regular season games though, good for a bullpen-best .750 winning percentage.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
It was 63 years ago today that Senator Joseph McCarthy stood before the Women's Republican Club of Wheeling, West Virginia and claimed there were upwards of 205 known communists working in the U.S. State Department. As of February 9, 2013, there have been 106 New York Mets players who, at one point, have been baseball card-carrying members of the Cincinnati Reds organization. This list includes original Mets (Roger Craig, Al Jackson), World Series champions (Ray Knight, Art Shamsky), and even the biggest names in team history (Tom Seaver).