Mar 9, 2021

Remembering Mets History (1989) The Ugly Darryl Strawberry vs Keith Hernandez Fight

 

Spring Training 1989: As the Mets were getting ready to take their team photo for the 1989 season things got heated up pretty quickly. 

At the time the reigning NL Eastern Champs, were looking forward to another good year with hopes of capturing another Championship. Darryl Strawberry was the NL's reigning HR Leader & was in the last year of his contract.

Darryl wanted a big pay out, he & the Mets were far apart in a highly publicized negotiation. He wanted an extension through 1992. At the time he was making $1.4 million & if the Mets picked up his option he would make $1.8 million in 1990 & be eligible for free agency. Strawberry's agent suggested he walk out of camp which he did later in the day. 

This didn't sit well with Hernandez who was quoted in the Port St. Lucie papers as saying "a deal is a deal. If Darryl
wants an extension, he should keep it out of the press."

Even Gary Carter mentioned, that nobody put a gun to Strawberry's head to sign the deal, four years ago.

For the team picture, Mets legendary PR man, Jay Horowitz, put Hernandez & Strawberry next to each other. Strawberry refused to kneel or sit next to Hernandez saying "I'd rather sit next to my friends".

Hernandez says "Why don't you grow up, you big baby".

Straw says to both Keith & Carter: "Why do you have to be saying those things about me. Why would I want to take a picture you two overpaid guys who do nothing"

Strawberry then shouted at Hernandez " I've been tired of you for years". Straw then went to punch Hernandez, but missed. He had to be restrained by Terry Leach & Bobby Ojeda. Meanwhile Gary Carter held back Hernandez. Straw then shouted at Gary Carter "Your next".

Eventually order is restored, Straw & Hernandez were put in the same row for the photo, with Carter & Howard Johnson between them. .

After the shoot & the argument, Gary Carter joked "Let's take another picture".

alamy stock photo
Before the day ended, Hernandez & Strawberry met in a
private session. Hernandez said "Everything is straight, we met & talked & straightened out our differences, if there were any".

The next day the two kissed & made up for the photo op.

The Mets would finish second (87-75) in 1989 behind the Chicago Cubs. With no wild card in those days, the season & an era were over. Keith Hernandez & Gary Carter both played their last seasons in Mets uniforms. The two were nearing the end of their careers & injuries, as well as age were creeping up. 

Strawberry played in one more season with Mets & then went on to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991 for three years. Injuries & personal issues limited him to just 43 games in 1992 & 32 games in 1993.


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