Monday, February 6, 2023

Ray Knight, 1986 World Series MVP, criticizes Wilpons’ tenure as Mets owners on Old Timers’ Day

The New York Mets celebrated some of the franchise’s greatest players during Old Timers’ Day on Saturday. It was the first event of its kind in 28 years for the team and also the first under the Mets’ new owner, Steve Cohen. 

For 1986 World Series MVP Ray Knight, he relished the opportunity to be back in front of the fans and thanked Cohen — while in the process bashing the Wilpon family, who Cohen purchased the team from.

“It’s a special thing for me to be here and feel like maybe I’m back part of this organization because [Steve] Cohen came in and spoke to me today. I hadn’t spoken to Jeff Wilpon in 30 years, period,” Knight said on Saturday, according to the New York Post. “Never was invited back, except for the 30-year [World Series reunion]. I was never invited to throw out the first pitch, none of that stuff.

“And that hurts because you give everything you have and you expect somebody to give a little something back, and that’s what this organization is doing now.”

Knight added that the Wilpons, who owned the Mets from 2002 until 2020, caused pain that he still feels today.

“It hurts to this day,” Knight said. “I love the New York Mets, I don’t like the Wilpons, I don’t like any of that deal.”

During the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox, Knight posted a .391 batting average and knocked in five runs, including a very big 10th inning RBI in Game 6 (now known as the Bill Buckner game). Knight also famously scored the game-winning run in that Game 6 when Mookie Wilson hit a ground ball that went between the legs of Boston’s Buckner at first base.

After that Mets’ championship run, Knight was an impending free agent and was eventually offered Knight a one-year contract that only carried a $5,000 raise. After feeling slighted by the franchise, he chose to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

“I didn’t even enjoy the parade. It just never went away, the hurt never went away, because it never changed,” Knight said. “I felt like here we are, such a close-knit unit and each person pulling strong and hard, and we were a collection of a bunch of pieces that fit together in the clubhouse. A lot of talent, but the right blend, and that makes such a difference. They tore the heart out of that ballclub when they let me go and they let [Kevin] Mitchell go because we were two guys who made a difference in that clubhouse. 

“[Howard Johnson] was a better player than me, no doubt about it. It wasn’t HoJo. It was the other people who came in who didn’t have that same intensity.”

Knight ended up finishing up the final two years of his career as a member of the Orioles and Tigers.

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