Mets History: An era ends, Mookie Wilson makes his Blue Jays debut
By Tim Boyle
A day after the 1989 trade deadline, Mookie Wilson played his first game for the Toronto Blue Jays. The end of his playing days with the New York Mets became a reality.
The New York Mets helped Mookie Wilson begin his professional baseball career when they selected him in the second round of the 1977 MLB Draft. They were the only franchise he ever knew until a trade deadline deal in 1989 sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays.
On August 1, 1989, Wilson put on a Blue Jays uniform for the first time. Until this point, he had never represented another major league franchise. He went 0 for 4 in his first game for Toronto before heating up later in the year.
With a .205 batting average at the time of the trade, the Mets sent Wilson north of the wall in exchange for Mike Brady and Jeff Musselman. Brady never reached the big leagues and Musselman lasted through only 1990 as a major leaguer. Looking back at it, they did Wilson a favor. He wasn’t going to get much playing time because of another trade they made earlier that same year.
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A few weeks earlier, they dealt Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to the Philadelphia Phillies for Juan Samuel. They planned to have Samuel take over as the leadoff hitter and starting center fielder for the rest of the year.
The two seasons went in reverse. Wilson had a productive finish in Toronto, batting .298 in his 247 trips to the plate. He earned himself a two-year contract with the Blue Jays after the year ended. He played plenty again in 1990, once again showing he had a little more left in the tank than the Mets may have believed.
Meanwhile, Samuel was an absolute bust in New York as Dykstra began to have some of his best years in Philadelphia. The Mets wasted little time in flipping Samuel to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December, receiving Mike Marshall and Alejandro Pena in return.
Fortunately for those who were fond of Mookie got to see him return to Flushing in the late 1990s as the first base coach. Wilson later became a minor league manager in the team’s system.
Wilson is one of the most iconic Mets players in franchise history. As the batter in one of the most famous plays in baseball history, he certainly made his mark on the game.
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The day New York traded Wilson marked the end of an era. They failed to reach the postseason in 1989 and wouldn’t taste the playoffs again until 1999. Even if the two events were not related, the Wilson trade in 1989 represented a change in Mets baseball and the direction they were headed.