One of my all time favorite baseball players is Mookie Wilson. And while I was a big fan of the New York Mets outfielder, my mother was an even bigger fan. Most people probably didn’t know she was a baseball fan, but she was.
I started following the Mets around 1981 and soon thereafter my parents started following too. Then in 1984 the Mets had the first draft pick and chose Shawn Abner, a graduate from my hometown high school in Mechanicsburg, PA. I think that probably solidified our allegiance to the team.
Anyway, Mom loved Mookie. The speedster on the bases had incredible work ethic and seemed to avoid all the scandals that plagued the Mets during the Strawberry, Gooden, and Hernandez era. Mom would have loved this letter. If she were still alive, I would have asked Mookie to send her a letter.
I grew up a die-hard Mets fan – unusual for someone living in Central Pennsylvania. All of my friends were Philly and Pirate fans. I watched every game on WWOR, captivated by Kiner, Zabriskie, McCarver and Staub’s call of the game.
My parents also became fans – I guess they gave in when my memorabilia draped room started looking more like the dugout at Shea than it did a bedroom. My mother, Lenora Sandridge, was your biggest fan. When you would get on base, she would start talking about how “Mookie’s gonna steal second.” She loved to watch you run the bases and I agree with her, few players truly make an art out of base-running. You were the best.
The other thing that you have in common with my mother is truck driving. No, she never drove a truck, but she often said that that would be her dream job – just driving the country and being her own boss.
She never realized that dream. She passed away in 2006 of heart disease at the age of 63. Shortly after that I learned that you had an 18 wheeler and drove short routes all over the southeast during the office season. She would have loved to have known that. Or maybe she did know that and it was just another reason she was so fond of you.
Anyway, as much as it would be nice to hear back from one of her (and my) heroes – learn more about your post baseball life, your recording work, etc. I don’t expect a response. I just wanted to share this little story with you.
Thanks for making baseball so fun to watch for my family and me during the 80s.