|Bud Harrelson at Barnes & Noble|
Harrelson is the only Met to have championships from both the 1969 team (as a player) and the 1986 team (as a coach). He appeared at Barnes & Noble 86th Street promoting his book, Turn Two: My Journey To The Top Of The World And Back With The New York Mets, which was co-written by Phil Pepe.
He is now the co-owner and senior vice-president of the Long Island Ducks, a baseball team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, and he said that it is "the best thing he has done in baseball", and he sounds very sincere about it. He loves where he lives in Suffolk County, and this team impacts where he lives. They are lucky to have him.
Harrelson talked for a long time, over an hour, and answered many questions from the audience. He recounted how he got his start in baseball, as a walk-on for San Francisco State. He joked about getting a $13,500 signing bonus from the Mets, which his brother "borrowed and never repaid."
One thing Harrelson is remembered for is an on-field fight with Pete Rose. Harrelson was (and still is) a small guy, and after a Mets/Reds game NLCS game in 1973 where Mets pitcher Jon Matlack shut down the might Reds hitting, Harrelson told a reporter that the Reds "hit like me" today. (Harrelson was a career .236 hitter, with 7 HRs.)
The next day, Joe Morgan from the Reds grabbed Harrelson by the shirt during warmups and told him "if you say that again, I'll punch you." Then he warned Harrelson that Rose was coming at him to fire up the team. In the 5th inning, Rose came at Harrelson and as Harrelson says "I hit him on the fist with my jaw."
It became known as the "Duel in the Sun", and there were lots of questions last night about Pete Rose. Harrelson said that Rose signs autographs for $65 a pop, signature only. If you want it personalized, it's another $65.
Harrelson signs for free, and he told a story about seeing Rose at Cooperstown, where he was on the main street signing for $65. Harrelson, who was relegated to signing on a side street, but when he saw Rose, he pulled up a chair next to him, and when people asked Rose to sign a photo of the "Duel in the Sun" for $65, Harrelson signed it for free.
He also said that Rose's son, Pete Jr., played for his Long Island Ducks for three years, and he refused to sign autographs too. (OK, that is something I do not understand. Rose Jr, is not even a big leaguer.)
Someone asked Harrelson if he would vote for Rose to get into the Hall of Fame, and Harrelson got a little prickly, saying "I'm not in the Hall, so I don't get a vote, but Seaver, Morgan and Bench won't vote for him". The man kept at him, saying there was more to the Rose story, but Harrelson reminded the guy that Rose was offered a lifetime ban in exchange for MLB sealing the record of the investigation into gambling allegations against him, and Rose took it.
Harrelson is a stand-up guy with a dry sense of humor, and I couldn't believe it when he said he was 68 years old; he does not look it. He loves baseball and he has a lot to teach young players. He even let us all try on his 86 World Series ring; how cool is that? He said this book is not a tell-all, but his story of his life in baseball, which is an interesting one. Think of this as a great gift for the NY Met in your life.