For all of us who have dreamed of donning a major league uniform, overachievers are a point of identification we can rally to. And no one New York Mets history fits that bill better than a man who spent all of 13 seasons wearing the orange and blue, but who now is facing the need to be a warrior of a different kind.
Derrel McKinley “Bud” Harrelson was an original draftee signed by the New York Mets on June 7, 1963, one year after their inaugural season in the National League.
At 5’11”, and 160 lbs soaking wet, Bud Harrelson held the shortstop position for a team that did not reach legitimacy until a full seven years later when (somehow) the team composed of a full complement of overachievers, including Harrelson, Tommie Agee, Al Jackson, Jim McAndrew, Jerry Grote, Cleon Jones, as well as budding superstars like Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, found their way to a World Championship in 1969.
Bud Harrelson will never be recorded in the annals of baseball as anything special. He left the game as a lifetime .236 hitter, amassing only seven home runs over 16 seasons in a big league uniform. Harrelson offset that somewhat by compiling a .327 on-base percentage, but let’s get real here. Bud Harrelson was not anything offensively spectacular.
He was, however, steady and reliable player appearing in over 1500 games during his career. Which brings us to the topic of this story, which is the unsettling news that Bud Harrelson is stricken with Alzheimer’s and the prognosis, as with most, is not good.
And with that, we transition to a compelling piece written by Bob Klapisch for the New York Post in which he uncovers the tremendous amount of support received among friends, teammates, and loved ones as the Mets warrior engages in a battle against time and chance.
Harrelson, typically, has this to say:
Underachievers, as most of us know them, have a way of recognizing, meeting, and for the most part, overcoming the challenges that face them. That’s how Bud Harrelson became Bud Harrelson, and Jose Altuve and others followed in his footsteps.
Hopefully, the piece in the Post by Klapisch is not a one-shot deal, and Mets fans will be kept abreast of how the Harrelson story develops. Things haven’t always been smoothe between the Mets, Harrelson, and some of their personnel over the years lately, and hopefully, this will be a way for the Mets to mend some fencing that needs fixing.
Irrespective of that, fans of the Mets and Bud Harrelson have reason to recall the shortstop who held the team together and to wish him the best in the months and years to come.