Jun 2, 2016

Remembering Mets History (1991) Greg Jefferies Open Letter to WFAN Radio Sparks More Drama

 May 24th 1991: Greg Jefferies had come up to the New York Mets for six quick games in the 1987 season, he went 3-6. Late in the 1988 NL Eastern Champion season he arrived & was incredible. He hit 6 HRs with 8 doubles & 35 RBIs in just 29 games. He went on hit .33 in the NLCS as well.

Being labeled the Mets second baseman & next star of the future, it never worked out that way. He had a good career but as the Mets team fell down in the standing, people started blaming players like Jefferies because he wasn't the star they expected. Even when he did get hits he was booed at Shea Stadium.

His personal relationships with other players, the media & the fans certainly didn't help.  He was called a pouter, a cry baby & accused of not giving it his all. He was said to even eat his lunch alone at Spring Training.

Many of the Mets players had anonymous quotes knocking Jefferies in the papers. Ron Darling even stated that he'd rather have veteran Tommy Herr on the field for nine innings behind him, than have Jefferies out there. Darling later apologized publicly to Jefferies for the comment.

Quotes: "I'm not going to take it anymore, I really am tired of being butchered. I don't mean to sound like a baby because I've been quiet about this for three years. Darryl wanted the limelight. I don't want it. I just want to play baseball. You got guys in here and you think, 'God, they really like me,' and then the next day you read something they say about you. I'm not taking this anymore."

It all came to a head in May of 1991 when he sent an open letter to talk Radio WFAN the station of the Mets stating the following:

Over the past three years, there has been an awful lot said and written about me. All too often, I have been criticized and blamed by some of my teammates. (I don't believe anyone can deny the fact that I have consistently taken it on the chin for the last three years.)
In those three years, I have always accepted responsibility for my mistakes and errors. I have never made excuses or alibis, or blamed anyone or pointed fingers.
     

It is my hope that the air can be cleared and that misunderstandings can be corrected. There comes a time when you have to stand up for what is right. I believe it is only fair and right that the fans of New York know my side of the story. Yes, there is another side to what you have heard.
(I have never been accused of not want to win, not caring enough, or not trying hard enough.) If anything, I've been accused of caring too much, trying too hard, and wanting to win too much. Is there really something wrong with that?
     
The core of all the criticism lashed out at me is that, admittedly, a few of my teammates don't regard me as a friend. It would be great to be friends with everyone, but my main concern is to play good baseball and to help the Mets win. (It is not important that we all be friends, however, it is important that we truly be teammates, all pulling for one another.
     
When a pitcher is having trouble getting players out, when a hitter is having trouble hitting, or when a player makes an error, I try to support them in whatever way I can. I don't run to the media to belittle them or to draw more attention to their difficult times.
     
I can only hope that one day those teammates who have found it convenient to criticize me will realize that we are all in this together. If only we can concentrate more on the games, rather than complaining and bickering and pointing fingers, we would all be better off.
I have never claimed to be the future of the Mets; this was a label that was put on me. I have never asked to play second base or third base, or for that matter, anywhere. I have just followed the requests of the management. What I do want the fans to know is that I give 110% all the time. All I want is for us to win.
     
Here's hoping that 1991 will be a championship year for the New York Mets.
My best always, Gregg Jeffries


This led to a players only team meeting, called by Mets catcher Rick Cerone. In the meeting which got heated at times, Mets pitcher David Cone agreed with Jefferies. The team attempted to move on from the drama.

That night the Mets beat the Cardinals in St. Louis behind David Cone, Jefferies did not play. They were 22-17 two games out of first place.


The 1991 Mets contended for the first half of the season, coming within three games of the eventual NL Eastern Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. But a horrible second half led to a fifth place 77-84 finish. Manager Bud Harrelson was fired during the last two weeks of the season, replaced by coach Mike Cubbage.


After the 1991 season, Greg Jefferies was traded along with Kevin McReynolds to the Kansas City Royals for Bret Saberhagen & Bill Pecota.

The Mets went down hill after 1991, losing for the next seven years. At one time being called the Worst team Money could buy.

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