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Keith Hernandez on Mets jersey retirement, career, ’86 team

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Earlier than Mets legend, 1986 World Collection champion and present SNY analyst Keith Hernandez gets his No. 17 jersey retired by the Mets on Saturday at Citi Discipline, the previous first baseman takes a swing at some Q&A with Publish columnist Steve Serby.

Q: What’s it like right this moment being Keith Hernandez?

A: Nothing actually totally different. My life’s regular, like anyone else. I simply have, I assume you’ll name, a high-profile job. I’m recognizable right here at Citi Discipline.

Q: You’re recognizable all over the place.

A: Effectively, that’s form of light somewhat bit, however within the baseball world I’m undoubtedly recognizable. However I believe my life’s pretty regular. I really feel fairly blessed that I’m nonetheless doing what I’m doing.

Q: There was a time in your life I used to be studying whenever you actually didn’t like your self. Have you ever ever appreciated your self greater than you proper now?

A: I can’t say I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like what I used to be turning into, and that’s a really private, non-public matter. All in all although, I believe I’m principally particular person. I can are likely to form of beat myself up somewhat bit, just about my total life, and even once I performed.

Q: Why do you assume that was?

A: I don’t know. Some individuals are extra constructive. Some individuals simply react in a different way. I used to be all the time somebody I believe that was a motivator for me. By no means being happy.

Q: What would you say you’re most pleased with about the way in which you performed the sport?

A: I believe I’m most pleased with what I achieved with the Mets. After I was with the Cardinals, we’d all form of come up collectively within the minor leagues and I used to be form of one of many youthful guys. And there was the growing older Bob Gibsons and the Lou Brocks, they have been form of shifting out, however they have been nonetheless there. However once I got here right here, it was a younger crew, and hastily it was a task reversal.

Q: That’s why you have been named Captain to carry the youthful guys beneath your wing. However on the sector, the way in which you performed the sport, what are you most pleased with?

A: My depth, what I introduced. … I got here and performed every single day, I by no means received harm for the primary 13 years of my profession. You may all the time rely on me. I prided myself on taking part in 150-plus video games a yr, and I used to be ready to do this the primary 13 years. I simply assume popping out right here and setting the instance as older gamers did for me once I was younger. And I used to be simply surrounded by youth, and I knew they have been watching me. The teachings that I discovered once I was in my early 20s they have been gonna come out and translate into [what] I can do right here.

Mets
Keith Hernandez taking part in the sector for the Mets.
AP

Q: What made you so clutch?

A: I believe you simply gotta need to be in that scenario. You need to hit with males on base. It was drilled in my brother and I by my father, he would throw BP, the final 10 swings have been all the time backside of the ninth, you’re dropping by a run, bases loaded, two outs, and he would throw tougher. And we’d get 10 swings, and the final swing … it could all the time have to finish with a line drive. So if the tenth swing you flew out, we wouldn’t finish that final 10 swings until we hit a bullet, base hit.

Q: What’s essentially the most gratifying factor you might have obtained from a former teammate?

A: I believe Darryl’s [Strawberry] been effusive together with his reward, how I helped him. The best praise I had was the New York Ballet troupe was run by an aged man, he was in I’d say his mid-60s, very elegantly dressed. And I used to be at a cocktail social gathering in Lincoln Heart, and I used to be taking part in … offseason. … He stated, “You play first base like a ballet dancer.” That was the best praise I’ve ever had.

Q: Should you might decide the mind of any first baseman in MLB historical past, who would it not be?

A: Oh, gosh … once I grew up, first base was a place the place you place your growing older veteran, your energy hitter, they thought they may conceal him there. I might by no means perceive that as a result of nobody will get extra motion in a recreation than … effectively catchers and the pitcher are extra concerned … however out on the sector, you may win or lose a recreation at first base.

Q: You possibly can solely decide one man.

A: Gosh … I’d need to go together with most likely Wes Parker.

Q: Should you might face one pitcher in MLB historical past?

A: [Sandy] Koufax. … ’Trigger he was such an excellent pitcher. There’s a complete bunch extra. … Lefty Grove, I’d like to face him, one other nice left-hander.

Q: You don’t thoughts going through left-handers?

A: I all the time hit lefties good. Whitey Ford, I’d like to face Whitey. … You need to face … Warren Spahn, there’s so many, guys that I grew up, which are nice pitchers.

Q: The opposite Mets who’ve had their jerseys retired: What made Tom Seaver so nice?

A: He was the linchpin of that ’69 crew, that first one, they have been the laughable Mets. When Gil [Hodges] got here in and took over, they turned it round just about in two years, and Tom was the best pitcher. I keep in mind a recreation, Tom was with Cincinnati after the commerce, he was forward 3-2 and I had three actually good at-bats off him. And he was throwing so exhausting, and I got here again within the dugout after the third at bat. And I sat down subsequent to Lou and I simply stated, “Rattling, he’s throwing exhausting!” Lou stated — that is like most likely 1979, ’78 — and Lou stated beneath his breath, “It is best to have seen him in ’69.” (giggle).

Q: What do you keep in mind in regards to the day he was traded?

A: I don’t keep in mind a lot. [1977] was when he was traded, I do know that was an enormous controversy happening, a number of outdoors influences there. And Tom, I keep in mind him watching the information being so emotional. It was a shock, however I didn’t actually pay it a lot thoughts, nevertheless it was stunning, he was a fixture right here.

Q: Mike Piazza’s 9/11 dwelling run, what do you recall about that?

A: That was simply … I imply, it’s similar to: There’s a God. The town wanted it so badly. And that’s what Mike did so effectively. Mike was one other nice clutch hitter, and I lined him. However the one factor, he was one of many gamers that he drove within the runs late and shut. … He did it with dwelling runs. He hit a number of dwelling runs late, that’s not a straightforward factor to do. … However that exact dwelling run … it was beautiful. It simply was like all people embraced one another.

Mets
Keith Hernandez
AP

Q: Do you keep in mind watching Jerry Koosman?

A: After all, I confronted him.

Q: What was that like?

A: Not enjoyable. I wouldn’t suggest it.

Q: However you hit lefties effectively, you stated?

A: He was nasty. He had an enormous curveball, exhausting sinker. When he received his twentieth recreation in September towards us, I believe it was ’76, and I used to be having second half, I used to be actually beginning to come round as a serious leaguer, and he was throwing a shutout and he was profitable 3-0, I imagine, and I hit a house run off of him to interrupt up his shutout. And he received 3-1, however I do know he wished that shutout. And I keep in mind working across the bases, I’m 22 years previous, I’m going, “I hit a house run off Jerry Koosman, and he’s throwing a shutout.” So I couldn’t wait to get dwelling to the resort — earlier than the cell telephones, we referred to as it Black Twine Fever — I received on the telephone, I referred to as my brother and my father instantly: “I simply hit a house run off Jerry Koosman!”

Q: Which of the present Mets might have performed in your ’86 crew?

A: [Francisco] Lindor would have began on our crew … Come on, the place are you gonna put Pete [Alonso]?

Q: How about first base?

A: Effectively, perhaps if we now have a DH we might DH him (giggle).

Q: Anyone else?

A: [Starling] Marte can be in there. I don’t need to put anyone else down. I might say these three for certain.

Q: What a couple of wholesome Jacob deGrom?

A: Oh, completely … [Max] Scherzer. They’re the premier pitchers of their era.

Q: What do you consider Edwin Diaz closing?

A: I’ll take him. In a heartbeat.

Q: Alonso appears like someday he may very well be a Captain right here.

A: Don’t rush it. Let him grow to be extra of a veteran, extra of a presence. That is solely what, his third yr, is that what it’s, third or fourth yr? A bit extra time, somewhat extra time. However sure, undoubtedly, he has that potential.

Q: Except for Rusty Staub taking you beneath his wing whenever you received right here, how did you adapt so simply to New York Metropolis?

A: I keep in mind I rented on the Dag Hammarskjold constructing. Rusty instructed me you gotta keep on the East Facet ’trigger you don’t need to go crosstown by way of site visitors for an evening recreation in Manhattan, and simply hire the primary yr. So I rented at Dag Hammarskjold on forty seventh and Second. I gotta say it was most likely made the transition simpler. He took me to eating places … Ed Lynch was staying on the town then, and he was single. Ron Darling and Danny Heep, we have been the one ones staying within the metropolis. … I wasn’t alone within the metropolis. It may very well be a lonely place. It may be powerful. However I believe due to Rusty I tailored. It took me round three weeks, round two homestands, I assume. … Then I spotted, “Boy, this city’s form of good.”

Q: The ’86 Mets versus the ’98 Yankees: Who wins?

A: Oh, brief sequence you may by no means … They have been an excellent crew, we have been an excellent crew. That’s a good suggestion, perhaps on my Strat-O-Matic I’ll play ’em in Strat-O-Matic a seven[-game] sequence and sees the way it comes out.

Q: You’re actually dodging the query.

A: I performed the ’86 Mets and the ’69 Mets in Strat-O-Matic. … Thrice. … They beat us all thrice.

Mets
Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter
AP

Q: Effectively then I might assume the ’98 Yankees would be capable to beat you additionally.

A: Effectively, we’ll see. We’ll by no means know!

Q: What do you assume the probabilities are of a Subway Collection?

A: Effectively, it’s an extended season and also you don’t learn about accidents and the Yankees are simply taking part in phenomenal. [Aaron] Decide is having a terrific yr — MVP yr.

Q: So it’s likelihood, you assume?

A: There’s an opportunity. Completely.

Q: DeGrom going through Decide, Scherzer going through Decide … how a lot are you trying ahead to these matchups if we get an October or November Subway Collection?

A: What do you assume? It’s be nice. … I might watch very intently how they assault Decide. I believe I understand how they’d.

Q: How would they?

A: I’m not gonna reveal.

Q: How about Gerrit Cole going through Pete Alonso?

A: That’d be a troublesome one, too. The groups that get there — I keep in mind my first supervisor, [the Cardinals’] Purple Schoendienst, once we received into the [1982] World Collection, he was Whitey’s [Herzog] bench coach. He stated, “You understand, ultimately, it’s the 2 finest groups in baseball. The opposite crew’s good, too. They didn’t get there by a fluke.” … The Purple Sox in ’86, that was a really proficient crew, that they had an excellent lineup, that was no simple mark.

Q: How would you describe the on-field mentality of these ’86 Mets?

A: Everyone got here and performed exhausting. I believe the followers liked us, we received, it was essentially the most profitable decade in Met historical past, However all of us received soiled. … Lenny [Dykstra] was all the time sliding headfirst, Wally [Backman] was a scrappy participant. … I believe it appealed to the grittiness of New York, the metropolitan space, the encompassing space.

Q: Did you get pleasure from being a villain on the street?

A: I all the time liked taking part in on the street.

Q: However that Mets crew was despised?

A: Solely in St. Louis was it actually, ’trigger that was the competitors. However that’s all nice. It’s like after they boo the perfect participant. They boo the All-Star, the visiting groups, as a result of he’s the perfect participant. So actually it’s a badge of honor. I all the time felt, I keep in mind as a child, Dad taking us to Candlestick Park, and he would purchase field seats on the primary base aspect, and would have us watch the primary baseman — it was Invoice White once I was a child. I keep in mind particularly, “Watch his footwork.” So I all the time felt on the street that there was a father or a mom on the market with a daughter or a son, and saying, who was sitting down, and left-handed, “Watch that man play first base. Watch him hit.” Which is what my father did. So I simply all the time thrived on the street.

Q: How would Buck Showalter have dealt with your ‘86 Mets?

A: He would have been wonderful. He would have been similar to Davey [Johnson]. … A supervisor has to know his gamers, and has to mingle together with his gamers, but in addition command respect. I’ve noticed Buck … you all the time see Buck previously, that is the primary time I’ve actually received to know him. … He’s all the time received that scowl on his face, and I stated he’s a bitter man. He’s not. He’s a personality!

Q: What number of video games do you assume a supervisor like Buck is value?

A: He’s not gonna get outmanaged, that’s for certain. I can’t put a determine on it, however a foul supervisor will lose you extra video games than supervisor will win you video games. Whitey Herzog instructed me that.

Q: What is exclusive in regards to the SNY sales space?

A: I believe we received the perfect play-by-play man in Gary [Cohen]. I believe that he’s just like the maestro, and he brings us in, and I believe the truth that we’ve received Ron [Darling] who is aware of pitching — I don’t know the main points and the mechanics of pitching — and you bought me. So that you’ve received two guys that may carry each facet of the sport into the dialog.

Ron Darling, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez
Ron Darling, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez
SNY

Q: In ’86 you have been on the quilt of GQ, appropriate?

A: Sure.

Q: How come it’s been 36 years? Why has it taken so lengthy to get again?

A: ’Trigger I’m most likely round 30 kilos heavier, that’s why (smile).

Q: And I believe Ronnie was additionally that yr?

A: I believe he was.

Q: How come Gary Cohen has by no means been on a GQ cowl?

A: That’s query. … They shoulda had him when he was at Columbia and he had the lengthy hair … that’s gone (giggle).

Q: Have you ever ever been noticed on the similar social gathering with John Stossel?

A: No, however I used to be on an airplane with him. He was sitting one row on the alternative aisle. We glance alike. … And we had an enormous giggle about it.

Q: When did you really develop your first mustache?

A: I began attempting to develop it once I was out of highschool. In A-ball, it was chocolate milk, and I might simply develop it and shave it, develop it and shave it, develop it and shave it, so it could come sooner. Finally it matured. However I’ve all the time had it, and I shaved it off perhaps two or thrice in my life. … [Luis] Guillorme, he shaved the beard, and he grew it proper again.

Q: Wasn’t there a time you shaved it and stated you’d by no means develop one again?

A: I’m undecided. … I don’t keep in mind saying that.

Q: Alongside those self same traces, does Keith Hernandez have extra groupies now or when he performed?

A: (Chuckle) I didn’t have groupies.

Q: What would you name them?

A: One-night stands (giggle). Simply kidding (giggle). I all the time had a girlfriend once I performed, all the time. However on the street, you’re in three nights in a metropolis. You’re gone. So typically you struck out, typically you didn’t.

Q: Yeah. You have been all the time a clutch hitter, although.

A: Effectively, the present, that exact [“Seinfeld”] episode which I believed was very, very intelligent with the JFK form of the theme there and all the assorted subplots … I don’t know, I simply thought it was form of a genius present — it’s referred to as “The Boyfriend” —you realize, Jerry’s a fan. Lots of people might relate to that ’trigger they idolize gamers, whether or not they’re a male or a feminine or tennis or soccer or basketball or baseball. So I believe it appealed to that. The writers have been so good in that present.

Q: What was it like filming that Simply For Males business with Clyde Frazier?

A: That was a number of enjoyable.

Q: You guys have been two of the good guys in New York.

A: Walt, he was doing (chuckle) all of the poetry, which he does on the air, he’s such a beautiful man. “No play for Mr. Grey,” and who would have ever thought that that may grow to be certainly one of these traces that individuals would keep in mind? We did that business for eight years.

Q: Getting again to the groupies for a second …

A: (Snort)

Mets
Keith Hernandez on Seinfeld
TBS

Q: How does the one you love cat Hadji really feel about your previous?

A: Effectively, Hadji’s a male. … He form of likes the concept I, you realize, I made him a star.

Q: He received’t be on the ceremony?

A: Nooo, I want he might.

Q:. Who takes care of him?

A: I’ve a neighbor pal that watches after him.

Q: What is going to or not it’s like on your brother watching the ceremony?

A: Gary, I believe, is gonna get emotional. My alternative, once I throw out the primary pitch? He’s gonna be the catcher. I’m gonna throw to him.

Q: And what do you watched your father can be considering on a day like this?

A: Oh, my father and mom, they’d be in hog heaven. I actually want they may very well be right here.

Q: Are you extra like your mom or father?

A: I’m the brooder. I’m my father. Gary’s the exuberant, the gregarious one. He’s my mom.

Q: You’re not a brooder any extra, I don’t assume …

A: I can brood. I solely present my brilliant aspect right here.

Q: And the place can I get a Keith Purrnandez T-shirt?

A: I form of like that. That was an excellent thought. I don’t know the place to get it. SNY?

Q: How emotional will the entire weekend be for you?

A: The weekend’s gonna be enjoyable. We’re gonna begin out with an enormous dinner with all my family and friends within the metropolis. … After I exit on the sector, it’s gonna be surreal. I’ve all the time been form of a procrastinator, so I’m form of blocking it off. I believe when the second comes and I’m there with my youngsters, and my grandkids and my brother, relations, they usually pull the canvas off the quantity, it’s going to be … it’s exhausting for me to fathom. As I’ve stated, you develop up as a child, you need to be a serious league participant. You watch Willie Mays like I did, be an MVP. You need to be a batting champion. You need to be an All-Star. However you by no means dream of getting your quantity retired. It’s actually the last word honor that a company can bestow on a participant. And what makes it so a lot better is that I’ll be the sixth particular person, solely the fourth participant. I’ll be up there with, my goodness, Casey Stengel, Gil after which, after all, I’ll be the fourth participant with Seaver, Koosman and Mike … in 60 years of baseball right here with the Mets, It’s a choose few.

Mets
Retired Mets Mookie Wilson, Keith Hernandez, Tim Teufel and John Franco take a photograph throughout a pregame ceremony on Opening Day to unveil a statue of Mets pitcher Tom Seaver.
Corey Sipkin

Q: What do you hope Mets followers keep in mind about Keith Hernandez the participant? And, what do you hope Mets followers take from Keith Hernandez the broadcaster?

A: People who noticed me play, they all the time come up and are very complimentary. People who didn’t see me play, they’ll solely hear what their mother and father say or what they see on movie. However I assume the truth that I got here to the park every single day and I gave it my finest … to win. As a broadcaster? I’m not achieved broadcasting. So hopefully I’m gonna be right here quite a lot of extra years.

Q: Once they’re watching you and Darling and Cohen, what do you hope that they are saying about you?

A: That I’m educated of the sport and I’m somewhat goofy. … I’m somewhat off the wall, I’m up there. I can get somewhat goofy up there.

Q: You’ve all the time been goofy?

A: I’ve. It’s humorous ’trigger once I performed, individuals thought I used to be so intense, and once I get within the sales space, individuals come as much as me and say they didn’t know that aspect of me, they thought I used to be an intense particular person 24/7, and I actually wasn’t within the clubhouse, I used to be like I’m within the sales space.

Q: Have been you sensible joker?

A: I used to be not a sensible joker.

Q: What’s the perfect sensible joke you ever noticed performed?

A: The clubhouse man in Cincinnati once I was a rookie, all of the rookies, he had a cage, with somewhat tail protruding they usually stated it was like a woodchuck or one thing. They usually get the rookie to go look, after which that they had the entice door, and it could come up and hit him within the face. I’ve seen that like 5 instances. … They tried to do it to me and I wouldn’t go close to it. I knew one thing was up.

Q: One very last thing in regards to the ’86 Mets: Why did you solely win one World Collection championship?

A: Effectively, there’s a number of causes. The ’87 crew, I felt we had accidents, however St. Louis had accidents that yr, too. We left spring coaching, and we didn’t have Roger [McDowell] for a month as a result of he had an emergency appendix operation, so we misplaced him. And Doc [Gooden] didn’t come out with us, missed the primary month. And in the midst of the season [Bobby] Ojeda solely began in seven video games that yr, he had a foul knee. Sid [Fernandez] had a balky knee, and down the stretch run, Ronnie, that crucial recreation we misplaced to the Cardinals in September right here, went down to choose up a bunt, and tore his ligament in his thumb, he was our greatest pitcher down the stretch. I actually felt that ’87 we have been gonna repeat, at the very least go win our division over the Cardinals. And that’s the yr that actually bothers me. ’Trigger in ’88 we come again and win the division — we win 100 video games.

Q: The December 1986 Kevin McReynolds commerce, did you assume that disrupted chemistry somewhat bit?

A: No, I didn’t. I believe the correct choice was to let Ray [Knight] go. Ray was form of the unsung hero, he was the veteran man, a right-hand hitter that hit seventh in our lineup, and was an ideal seventh hitter, a veteran, had yr, however he was older. You had Howard [Johnson] and Kevin Mitchell ready within the wings. They made their alternative on Howard, and traded Mitchell, which was a shock. At that time, Howard early in his profession was not an excellent right-hand hitter. And he discovered to grow to be right-hand hitter as he received older, however that ’87 yr, and ’88, he was a neater out, so it made us extra weak towards left-hand pitching, the place we had Kevin and Ray, right-handed bats, in the event that they threw a left-hander at us in ’86, we had a counter for it, and we misplaced that.

Q: Are there first basemen right this moment who you get pleasure from watching play the place?

A: I like [Eric] Hosmer with San Diego. I like him loads. He hasn’t received a Gold Glove, I believe he’s the perfect fielder within the league.

Q: Does he remind you of you?

A: No, not likely. He’s good and stable. He’s not as agile as I’m — as I used to be, I’m actually not agile anymore. However he’s actually fielder, received good fingers.

Q: What would you inform these present Mets about how New York Metropolis embraces its champions?

A: I believe that they’re going to see it on July 9, how the town embraces, the followers embrace the winners, their gamers — they don’t overlook. Any crew, it’s their goal simply to win. However to win right here — it’s been what, like 36 years now — and I nonetheless get those who come as much as me if I’m in Manhattan, cab driver or no matter, they usually nonetheless keep in mind ’86. So it’s time for an additional one.

Q: What’s your fondest reminiscence of the ticker tape parade?

A: That Bobby Ojeda and I nearly didn’t make it. We have been up all night time then we fell asleep, once we wakened, we didn’t bathe, and we took a cab downtown to Battery Park the place it began. After which there was a sea of individuals, and we’re going, “Oh, my God, we’re not gonna be capable to get by way of this.” So it was like Moses parting the Purple Sea. They allow us to by way of. Then there was this wrought-iron fence, and was pointing up within the air, and the individuals lifted Bobby and I up and over the gate and on the opposite aspect they have been there to seize us and put us down, we went proper to our automobiles (giggle).

Mets
Keith Hernandez
Paul J. Bereswill

Q: What did you guys try this night time?

A:. We have been all over. … We had a few locations that I’d frequent … keep in mind Columbus on 69th and Columbus? That was the recent spot. … It wasn’t a disco. … My brother was with me. He regrets, he didn’t get away from bed.

Q: The place have been you guys staying?

A: My condo.

Q: And Ojeda was there, too?

A: I don’t know the way he wound up with me that night time (giggle).

Q: You may say that about a number of totally different individuals over the course of your life.

A: (Snort)

Q: You’re Keith Hernandez, and it’s my honor. Congratulations.

A: Thanks a lot.

Q: No one deserves it extra.

A: Thanks. I respect that.