Mookie Wilson turns 65 today. Until recently, he was the best Mookie ever to play in the MLB.
Mookie played center field for the Mets for years. His most famous moment was in game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox. Bottom of the 10th inning, the Red Sox had scored 2 in the top of the inning to take the lead and get to where they were just three outs from winning their first World Series since 1918. The Mets made two quick outs, then Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, and Ray Knight hit consecutive singles to put the tying run at 3rd and the winning run at first with Mookie up.
Mookie got to a 2-2 count, fouling off some good pitches. The 7th pitch of the at-bats was a wild one, and it almost hit Wilson. It brought home the tying run and moved the winning run to second. Wilson fouled off a couple more pitches before he hit the ground ball that would make Bill Buckner public enemy number one in Boston, a soft roller that went right between Buckner’s feet. The Mets would win game 7 and the series.
If you want to indulge in some Red Sox schadenfreude, you can watch it:
The Blue Jays traded for Mookie on July 31, 1989, sending Jeff Musselman and Mike Brady to New York. At the time, we were tied for second place, with Boston, at 52-53, 3.0 games back from Baltimore in a very close AL East. It was a tight race; Six of the seven teams in the division were within six games of first.
Mookie didn’t look like the guy who was going to pull the Jays into the playoffs. He had been hitting .205/.237/.289 in 80 games with the Mets. He was 33, and it seemed like he was past his prime. But he found the fountain of youth with the Jays and hit .298/.311/.370 (yeah, I know, it would have been nice if he got on base more, but we won) with 12 stolen bases (caught just once) and sparked the Jays to a 37-20 stretch run, helping us to a first-place finish. Mookie seemed to give the team a needed spark. Unfortunately, we lost to the A’s in the ALCS.
Wilson quickly became a fan favorite in Toronto. How can you fail to like a guy named Mookie? And he was a happy guy who seemed to love playing the game.
The rest of his time in Toronto didn’t quite as well. He hit .265/.300/.355 in 147 games in 1990 and then .241/.277/.349 in 1991 (we made the playoffs again). This time we lost out to the Twins in the ALCS. Mookie retired after that season.
Happy Birthday, Mookie. I hope it is a good one.
Dioner Navarro turns 37 today. I thought he would be older.
Dioner had a 13 year MLB career. 2 and a half of those seasons were with the Blue Jays.
Way back in 2013, Dioner was Alex Anthopoulos’ first big free-agent signing. Alex signed him to a 2-year, $8 million contract. You can see Scott’s post on the signing here. We liked the signing. 88% said Yes in Scott’s “Are you happy with this move?” poll.
In 2014 Dioner hit .274/.317/.395 with 12 home runs. He wasn’t the best defensive catcher, but he was ok. He threw out 21% of base stealers (slightly below league average).
Before the 2015 season, Alex signed Russell Martin as a free agent. It was a surprise to us. We figured Navarro was good enough in the role and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Navarro got into 54 games as Martin’s backup in 2015, hitting .246/.307/.374 in those games. And we made it to the playoffs.
After the season, Dioner signed, as a free agent, with the White Sox. By August, the front office got tired of Josh Thole backing up Martin and traded to get Navarro back. But he didn’t hit any better than Thole, .182/.250/.182, in just 33 at-bats. And that was the end of his MLB career.
In 13 seasons, he played in 1009 games, hitting .250/.309/.370 with 77 home runs. 209 of those games were with the Jays, hitting .263/.311/.380.
Happy birthday Dioner. I hope it is a good one.
Also having a birthday is Doug Linton, turning 56 today.
He was our 43rd round draft pick in the 1986 draft, but he beat the odds and made it to the majors.
Doug made it to the Jays in, for a cup of coffee, in 1992. He pitched in 8 games, starting 3. It didn’t go great, 8.63 ERA in 24 innings. In 1993 he was brought up again in May, made 4 appearances, 1 start, had a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings.
At that point, the Jays put him on waivers, and the Angels picked him up. He’d go on to play in parts of 7 seasons. He played in 112 games, 35 starts, and had a 5.78 ERA. He also pitched a season in Korea.
On his Wikipedia page, I see that he’s the pitching coach for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the PCL.
Happy birthday Doug. I hope it is a good one.
It is also Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s father’s birthday. He turns 46 today.
Vladimir Sr. finished his career in the minors with the Jays. Signed in May of 2012, he went to the minors to work his way into shape after missing spring training. He played 12 games split between Dunedin and Las Vegas and hit .358/.364/.679 with 4 home runs in 55 PA but didn’t get the call-up and asked for his release.
Career he hit .318/.379/.553 with 449 home runs. He played for the Expos, Angels, Rangers, and Orioles.
Happy Birthday, Vlad Sr. I hope it is a good one.