OTD: Mets acquire Keith Hernandez

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 17: Former Major League Baseball first baseman Keith Hernandez gets ready to throw out the first pitch prior to game one of the 2015 MLB National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets at Citi Field on October 17, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

June 15 should be designated Keith Hernandez Day. On this day, Keith was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals and the rest is… history.

Below are a few excerpts from some of my favorite books, which mention Keith either as a player, broadcaster or friend.

Ron Darling on Life with Keith

In his book 108 Stitches, Ron shared a few stories about Keith’s leadership as a player and their relationship as a broadcasting team. One of my favorite stories is when the duo are in a hotel elevator in Philadelphia. While there, there’s two middle-age men wearing Mets jerseys (a Wright and Reyes jersey). Here is an excerpt of what happens next:

“Keith looked these guys up and down, and I just knew he was about to say something…

Sure enough, Keith couldn’t leave it alone. He said, “Excuse me, but how fucking old are you guys?” They mentioned their ages and Keith said, “Aren’t you a little old to be wearing baseball jerseys?”

The two didn’t say anything. Keith didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything. Finally, the doors opened onto Keith’s floor and he stepped out, leaving me in the cab with Jose Reyes and David Wright…This is going to be awkward I thought. And it was, until I could see Reyes turn to Wright and give him a high five. Then I heard him say, ‘That was fucking awesome…'”

Ron Darling

Jay Horowitz on the day he (kind of) met Keith

In his book Mr. Met, former Mets PR Director Jay Horowitz describes his first encounter with Keith. He summarizes this encounter by sarcastically saying, ‘What a great way to make a first impression!’ Here is an excerpt of the meeting:

“It was my job to meet Keith at the airport when he arrived in Montreal, and do my best to make him feel welcome. I knew he wasn’t thrilled about joining us. So I thought I would impress him by picking him up in a big white limo. I showed up at the airport in the limo, but couldn’t find Keith. There was no texting in those days. You had to actually find each other, and Keith and I didn’t know each other then.

‘I had no idea what to look for when he was coming to pick me up,’ Keith says now. ‘He missed me in the baggage claim. I was sitting there hanging around and finally said, I’ve got to get to the ballpark. So I took a cab. Jay and I had a chuckle about that later that afternoon. We still do to this day.”

– As told by Jay Horowitz

Davey Johnson on Keith’s Leadership

In his book, My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, Davey Johnson talks about how important Keith and Gary Carter were to those 80s Mets squads of my childhood. Excerpt below.

“Keith was a big help to me that first year- both on the field and as a clubhouse presence. He was the true captain of the Mets before I made it official following the ’86 season. And as a player they didn’t come any better.

Defensively, Keith was the best first baseman I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how anyone could be any better at fielding ground balls and throwing to different bases. And he was like having an extra coach in the infield, with his visits to the mound to talk to a pitcher – slowing down the pace of the game…It was just so enjoyable having him on the club. I didn’t have to coach him on anything.”

– Davey Johnson

As a Mets fan, what does Keith Hernandez mean to you? Use the comments section below to let us know and who knows, we may read your answer in a future of episode of Behind the Bag!

2 Comments

  1. Bob from Long Island says:

    What does Keith mean to me? Very simply put, the only World Series I ever saw in person! 1986 World Champs! And without Keith, I would never have had the best fan experience of my life! Thank you Keith!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray says:

      Thanks for sharing!!! Since we had the same last name I used tell my 1st grade classmates that he was my dad!

      Like

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