Remembering Mets History (1990) Mets Fire Manager Davey Johnson & Replace Him with Bud Harrelson

Tuesday May 29th, 1990: Things were starting to boil early on in the Mets 1990 season, especially as they kept losing. 

This was a team who was favored to win the National League & the World Series almost every year from 1985 to 1990. 

The Mets did win it all in 1986, but in a time without wild cards, they won just one more NL East title  (1988) making just two post seasons in the mid to late eighties. They were second place bridesmaids, in 1984, 1985, 1987 & 1989. 

After the Championship, the 1987 Mets had won 92 games but finished three games behind St. Louis. The 1988 squad won the NL East but were upset by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. The surprising Dodgers went on to win the World Series as well. 

In 1989 the Mets won 87 games, their lowest total of wins since 1983. They finished second behind the Chicago Cubs, as they did in 1984.

At this point in 1990 the Mets were 22-20 & fallen to fourth place. Davey Johnson was being criticized for not being a harsh disciplinarian to the wild bunch. He was accused of not being able to motivate the team as he once did when they were younger & hungrier to win.

Quotes: GM Frank Cashen- ''I felt our ball club was underachieving, the time came to head in a new direction. I talked to the team about underachieving and having fire in the belly. I want this team to focus on winning because winning is what it is all about.''

Johnson was the games winningest manager over the past six seasons & had the most wins of any Mets manager in Mets history 595-417 as well as the franchise's best winning percentage (.588%).

Many of the 1986 Champions bats were gone, with Darryl Strawberry, Howard Johnson & Tim Teufel still left in the lineup. 

But the Mets pitching staff was still one of the games best with most of the '86 cast still on the team. 

Frank Viola  would win twenty games in 1990 (20-12), Dwight Gooden (19-7) & David Cone (14-10). 

But Ron Darling (7-9) & Sid Fernandez (9-14) both were struggling. John Franco was the teams newest solid closer (33 saves). Bob Ojeda (7-6) was pitching out of the bull pen but also made 12 starts.

At the end of May, the front office made the official decision to firs Davey Johnson.

On Tuesday, Mets third base coach, Bud Harrelson was named the 12th Manger in Mets history, replacing Johnson. 

Harrelson had played for the Mets as one of the games best defensive short stops of his era. He made two All Star teams. He won a World Series with the 1969 Amazing Mets, & then a pennant in 1973. After his playing days he was the Mets third base coach & a face of the organization's history.

Ron Darling had had his differences with Manager Davey Johnson & was always outspoken about it. 

Quotes- Ron Darling: ''The rules have been there, what Buddy is going to do is what the government would call a strict interpretation of the rules. I think he is really going to hold to curfew."

"There will be no more golf and no more playing cards. There will be a tightening of the reins. On the field. Off the field. We all had our differences with him, but we all respected him. I feel us not playing well did let him down. He gave us room to succeed and we didn't do it. Everywhere.'' 

''Buddy was always the guy you went to when you had a problem, I hope he doesn't change that.''

Frank Viola: ''It got to the point where something had to happen,' I hate to say it but things had gotten a little stale around here.''
Dwight Gooden: "If you're not playing well, you can't take four or five guys and trade them. 'The manager has to go.''

Bud Harrelson: ''I really feel in my heart that this ball club will be fired up. As a player, I was embarrassed that I had something to do with a manager getting fired. A manager gets fired because you haven't performed up to expectations.'' 

''I don't think the players are surprised it happened, some players probably don't think I can do the job. That's their problem.''

The Mets had a hot streak  in June winning 20 of 23 games to get tied for first place. They contended all year, in & out of first, remaining atop the heap in early September before eventually fading. The 1990 Mets won 91 games, but finished second to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was their last winning season for the next seven years, until 1997.


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