Bud Harrelson: All Time Mets Shortstop: Part Three (1974 - Present)

After the Pennant : The 1974 season, was a disappointing one for the Mets, as they would finish fifth, going 71-91.

Harrelson had a great start to the season, gathering up three hits on Opening Day in a 5-4 loss at Philadelphia. When the Mets raised the pennant flag on April 10th, Harrelson had one hit in the 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

He hit safely in 13 of his first 19 games & was batting .300 at the end of the month. He also drew walks in 26 of his first 48 games as well, putting up good a .400 on base percentage.

In mid-June he missed some time on the DL & then in September hi season was over by mid month. He drove in just one run from June through the end of the season. 

On the year he dropped to a .227 average with nine stolen bases, ten doubles & for the first time in his career, no triples. He played in just 106 games, due to the injuries, but was solid defensively as usual, posting a .968 fielding % (fifth in the league) turning 65 double plays making 17 errors in 528 chances.

1975: This season Harrelson suffered a knee injury early on that plagued him all season, seeing action in just 34 games on the season. 

1976: Bud returned in the bicentennial year of 1976, with an Opening Day fourth inning double of Montreal’s Steve Rodgers. The hit drove in two runs, breaking a 1-1 tie and proved to be the winning runs in Tom Seaver's 3-2 victory.

Harrelson hit safely in ten of his first dozen games, posting a .400 on base %. On May 11th he hit career HR #5, it came in Atlanta's Launching Pad off Braves pitcher Roger Moret. 

He missed two weeks of action in June, then returned to drive in a pair of runs in San Diego in a 5-0 Mets win. He helped Craig Swan to a 3-1 win three days later in San Francisco with an RBI sac fly.

On July 4th, 1976, as America celebrated its 200th birthday, the Mets played two at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In the first game Harrelson had a pair of hits, driving in two runs in the Mets 9-4 win over the Cubs. 

Wedding Day#1: On Sunday August 15th, Harrelson scored the only run in a 1-0 Mets win, when Brue Boisclair drove him in in the 5th inning. It was all Jerry Koosman needed for the win.

That night in Huntington, Long Island, Harrelson married the former Kim Battaglia of East Northport. The two celebrated with family & team mates, enjoying their honeymoon on the Mets off day Monday. 

He slumped off down to the .200 mark but a strong September helped him raise his average twenty points.

Although he finished the 1976 season with a .234 batting average, he walked 63 times to earn a .351 on base %. He had 84 hits, 12 doubles, 34 runs scored & 26 RBIs.

 He drew 63 walks which gave him a .351 on base % despite the low batting average. At short he posted a .962 fielding percentage in 117 games. That year the Mets finished third with a 86-76 record.

The end of an Era: 1977 would a major change for the New York Mets organization, a turn for the worse which took years to recover from. It was also Harrelson's last year playing for the Mets. He struggled at the plate all year long, never batting higher than .200 after the third game of the year.

On May 29th, he hit his last Mets career HR, it came in Philadelphia off Jim Katt. On June 12th Harrelson was in the line up batting second, when Tom Seaver pitched his final game with Mets before getting traded to Cincinnati on June 15th. The Mets fell to last place winning just 64 games all season in 1977.

Harrelson played in 107 games, batting just .178 with one HR, 6 doubles & 12 RBIs posting a .255 on base %. 

In March of 1978 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Fred Andrews, like most of the players from the Mets glory days, Bud was gone as well.

Mets Career Stats: Bud Harrelson is the Mets all-time leader short stop with 1280 games played at the position.

He is fourth on the all-time Mets list in Games played (1322). Bud is second in sacrifice hits (77)
third in triples (45) & walks (573). 

Harrelson is fourth in at bats (4390) & plate appearances (5083). He is fifth in singles (855) seventh in hits (1029) eighth in stolen bases (115) & tenth in runs scored (469).

Defensively he is second in turning double plays (686). Harrelson was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1982. 

Phillies Career: With the Phillies he won a division title and went to another NLCS although he did not play in any games. He was a free agent in the off season, but no one came after him. 

Bud was resigned by the Phillies that May. This time he was now team mate of Pete Rose who had also signed there as a free agent prior to the 1979 season. Bud hit .282 in 53 games that year mostly being used as a reserve infielder.

Rangers Career: In 1980 he signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers, reunited with his old friend Rusty Staub also a Ranger that year. Harrelson saw action in 87 games that year & even hit his seventh career HR.

Career Stats: Bud finished his 16-year career batting .236 lifetime with 1120 hits, 539 runs scored, 7 HRs, 136 doubles, 45 triples, 633 walks, 267 RBIs & 127 stolen bases. He struck out 653 times drew 633 walks with a .327 on base % & .616 OPS.

He played in 1400 games at the short stop position (75th most all time). He posted a .969 fielding percentage with 2387 career put outs (76th all time) 3975 assists (85th all time) making 203 errors in 6565 chances. He turned 751 double e lays (86th most all time).     

Retirement: Coaching Career: After retiring as a player, Harrelson served as a Mets coach in 1982. In 1984 he managed the A-ball Little Falls Mets to a Championship. In 1985 he managed the A-ball Columbia Mets for 35 games, before joining Davey Johnson's coaching staff as the Mets third base coach. He replaced Bobby Valentine who left for job as manager of the Texas Rangers.

Bud was in the third base coaches’ box during the 1986 Championship season. In the 1986 World Series he was leaping for joy, when Ray Knight scored the winning run in Game #6, after Mookie Wilsons grounder got by Boston's Bill Buckner.

Quotes- Bud Harrelson: I not only waved him home, I accompanied him om his journey. f you look at the highlights of Kniht scoring the winning run,, you can see me running right along with him. I had to slow down because I had Ray beat & I couldn't touch home plate or get there before he did".

Managing Career: After six years as a Mets coach, he was promoted to Mets manager in 1990 after Davey Johnson was let go. Harrelson's Mets finished second to the Pittsburgh Pirates that year with a 91-71 team record. Under his watch the team went 71-49 from the end of May on. It was the Mets seventh straight winning season.

In 1991 things started out well, but they were soon to be labeled "the worst team money could buy" as they collapsed in the second half of the season. The club went 74-80 & Harrelson got fired with one week left in the season, getting replaced by coach Mike Cubbage. The team finished in fifth place at 78-84.

As a Mets manager, Harrelson posted a 145-129 record. His .529 winning percentage is the fourth best among all Mets managers, behind Davey Johnson, Willie Randoph & Bobby Valentine but ahead of Gil Hodges (.523%).

Honors: Harrelson was on hand for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 & attended all the festivities of the 30th & 40th Anniversary for the 1969 Championship team at Citi Field.

Back in 1993 he was also on board for the honoring of the 20th Anniversary of the 1973 NL Championship team. 

He appeared as himself in the 1999 episode of Everybody Loves Raymond - Big Shots, along with several other members of the 1969 Mets Championship team.    

The Long Island Ducks: In 1999 Harrelson helped bring Independent League baseball to Eastern Long Island in Central Islip. Harrelson was a co-owner, & Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations of the Long Island Ducks, an unaffiliated minor league baseball team. Throughout the years Bud has served as a coach & manager for the team.

The Ducks had led all independent leagues in attendance in each of their first seven seasons of play. They currently own the independent minor league baseball single-season attendance record of 443,142 fans. In 2004 they won the leagues Championship title. In 2018 the Ducks horned Bud & his family at the ballpark. It was one of his last public appearances as his health declined.

Long Island: Harrelson had been a long time Long Island resident. He moved into his first house in East Northport Long Island on Opening Day, 1969. 

Family: He later lived in Hauppauge with his second wife Kim, daughters Alexandra and Kassandra and son T.J. 

Charities: He also helped run several baseball camps throughout the Island, volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Suffolk Police Athletic League and just about any organization that called for him.

Quotes-Bud Harrelson: "I wanted to stay out here. When I was renting, I talked to Ron Swoboda & he lived in Syosset. I looked there, but I asked the realtor, "Do you have anything cheaper?"

"People asked me how I settled in Suffolk County and I tell them I hit .236. If I had hit .250, I'd have been living in Nassau County. 

If I'd have hit .300, I'd be a neighbor of Tom Seaver when he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. "But I love the communities here, I'm not from New York, but I always say I grew up in New York.”

Family Drama: In 2005 his son T.J. Harrelson, was the key witness in the trial of his best friend’s stepfather’s murder. He was sentenced to five years' probation and 420 hours of community service for hindering the prosecution in the samurai sword slaying of the retired police officer. 

In 2012 he (along with Phil Pepe) published a book called "Turning Two, My Journey To the Top Of the World & Back with the NY Mets". The book chronicles Bud's life & career with great insights to the Mets Glory Years of his career (1969-1973).

Soon after Harrelson was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. "It's scary, but it's not like it's kicking my butt every day. It could be worse. It comes & goes. You just keep going everyday". He was no longer see in public & unable to attend any more Mets functions.

Passing: Sadly, Bud Harrelson passed away in January 2024 at the age of 79.


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