Rising Apple Off-Season Player of the Week: Ray Knight

By Matt Musico

Each week during the off-season, I will be selecting a random, former Met to highlight. This will be taking place of our usual Friday segment, Rising Apple Player of the Week, until the regular season starts back up in April. If you have a former Met that you’d like me to highlight, please contact me at matt.musico8@gmail.com and title your email: Rising Apple Off-Season Player of the Week suggestion.

This week’s off-season player of the week is Ray Knight, courtesy of reader Kathy C. She brought Knight to my attention, as well as another Mets legend (who shall remain nameless…for now), because neither one of them are acknowledged at all by the Amazins, for no rhyme or reason. As Kathy referenced in her email, the Mets have only two World Series championships, yet neither one of the Series MVPs are honored in the Hall of Fame at Citi Field. Knight is one of those MVPs I’m talking about, as he earned the honors in 1986 after hitting .391/.440/.565 with 1 homer, 5 RBI, and 4 runs scored against the Red Sox.

Aug 7, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; Mr. Met unveils the 2013 All Star Game logo before the game between the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

The corner infielder was drafted in the 10th round by the Cincinnati Reds, out of Dougherty High School in Georgia. He made his debut in September 1974, but didn’t cement his place on Cincy’s MLB roster until 1977. In his first full season as a starter in 1979, the third baseman hit .318/.360/.464 with 10 homers and 79 RBI, placing him fifth in NL MVP voting. After a few more seasons with the Reds, Knight was dealt to the Houston Astros, where he spent almost three seasons before he fell out of favor with the organization and was traded to the Mets in August 1984.

He endured a trying first full season in New York (.218/.252/.328, 6 HR, 36 RBI), and Frank Cashen attempted to trade him to Pittsburgh for Lee Mazzilli, but the deal never happened. It was a blessing in disguise, as Knight was an integral part to a team that won 108 games in 1986; he hit .298/.351/.424 with 11 homers and 76 RBI, earning him NL Comeback Player of the Year Honors. Despite struggling in the NLCS against the Astros (.167 BA), he played a huge role in the World Series.

As we all know, Knight scored the game-winning run in Game 6 after Mookie Wilson hit the grounder through Bill Buckner‘s legs, but he drove in the go-ahead run in the decisive Game 7, as he picked the perfect time to hit his only home run of the postseason. Unfortunately, the two sides couldn’t agree on a new contract, as Knight became the first World Series MVP to play for another team the following season. He played a year each in Baltimore and Detroit, completing his 13-season career with a .271/.321/.390 line, including 84 homers and 595 RBI.

After he finished his career as a player, Knight gave coaching a try, as he managed the Reds for a couple of seasons in the mid-90’s. Currently, he’s found himself in the broadcasting booth for the Washington Nationals.

Why he’s not been acknowledged by the Mets after being such an integral part to one of their two world championships is beyond me. Knight has cited he wasn’t treated all nicely once he became a free agent after the 1986 season, and those feelings have sadly been carried into the present day. In our discussions, Kathy and I both believe there needs to be something in the Mets Hall of Fame recognizing their former third baseman; without him, Mets history would be very different.

So, here’s to you, Mr. Knight. I know you’re probably looking for a little more recognition and an apology for how you were treated coming directly from Mets ownership, but hopefully this is just the beginning. Thanks for helping give us Mets fans something to smile about.