This week’s 1973 Mets player profile focuses on the team’s shortstop, Derrel McKinley “Bud” Harrelson. Harrelson was the prototypical shortstop of that era, outstanding glove, contact hitter, and excellent speed. Harrelson won the 1971 Gold Glove, and was an NL All Star in both 1970 and 1971. For his career (16 major-league seasons), Harrelson was .236 hitter, with 7 HRs and 267 RBI. He stole 127 bases, while being caught 60 times.
Harrelson made his big-league debut in 1965, and played 13 years with the Mets. His best statistical Mets years were 1967 and 1973, when he hit .254 and .258 respectively.Harrelson usually hit first in the order, and was a very skillful bunter, often bunting for base hits. The Mets traded Harrelson to the Phillies before the 1978 season, and Harrleson went on to play 2 years with Philadelphia, before spending the 1980 season, his last big-league season, with the Texas Rangers.
Harrleson is not a big man, at at 5′ 11″, 160 pounds. But, he had the heart of a lion. He would hang in on double plays, taking on the slides of much larger players. One time, this got Buddy in trouble. In probably his most iconic Met moment, Harrleson was playing shortstop in game 3 of the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets were turning a double play, and Bud did not care for Pete Rose‘s hard slide into second. Harrelson had some words for Rose, who was quite a bit bigger than Buddy. The two then “dropped the gloves”, and engaged in a brawl. The fight lasted for quite a while, involving both benches and bullpens. The crowd at Shea took such exception to the events that they threw objects to the Reds’ left fielder (Rose), to a point where the umpires threatened to forfeit the game to the Reds. Rusty Staub and Yogi Berra then went down the left field line, and pleaded with the crowd to stop the foolishness. The crowd obliged, and the Mets won the game. You can watch the incident here:
Bud Harrelson is now 68 years old. If you believe the old adage that you need strength up the middle to win in baseball, Harrelson and Felix Millan, along with Jerry Grote, Willie Mays, and a solid pitching staff, gave the Mets that strength in 1973. Harrelson managed the Mets in 1990 and 1991 (neither was a full season for him as manager), and posted a record of 145-129. He also was the third-base coach on the 1986 World Series champions. Harrelson is still active with the Mets, and has made appearances at both Shea and Citi Field. Here’s a Rising Apple hat-tip to the shortstop on the 1973 New York Mets.