The 1977 Midnight Massacre may have ended the New York Mets hopes of contending for a few years, but a week before it happened, the team unknowingly drafted two key members of a future championship roster.
Nobody knew at the time, but in the 1977 draft, the Mets used the first and second rounds to select a pair of players who would have big roles on the 1986 team.
In round one, the Mets took a high school out of Oregon named Wally Backman. Long before he was the desired manager for the Mets by plenty of people on Twitter in today’s world, he was the team’s second baseman during the 1980s.
Backman was drafted 16th overall by the Mets in this draft. He made his debut in 1980, slowly earning more playing time over the years.
By 1984, he became more of a regular. Backman played in 100+ games each season for the Mets from 1984-1986. In their championship season of 1986, he hit .320 during the regular season.
The team hit big on another selection this draft. In the second round, they used their pick to take one of the best center fielders the franchise has ever known, Mookie Wilson.
Wilson also made his MLB debut in 1980. He found his way into the starting lineup quicker than Backman, first reaching 100+ games played in 1982. Wilson then became a fixture of Mets baseball.
Throughout the 1980s, Wilson was a fan-favorite in Flushing. Often the starting center fielder or a guy who would share it in a platoon, Wilson was a remarkable base stealer and an important leadoff bat for the organization.
In 1986, while sharing outfield duties with Lenny Dykstra, Wilson found himself receiving 416 plate appearances. He managed to swipe 25 bags for the city of New York while giving them a .289/.345/.430 slash line.
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The Midnight Massacre remains one of the darkest days in Mets history. If you go back about one week and look at the 1977 MLB Draft, you can find some retrospective hope in the form of two amateur players.