By Sam Bush
Bud Harrelson, who fought Pete Rose during a playoff game and helped the Mets win a championship, died last night. He was 79.
The Mets Harrelson died at a hospice house in East Northport, New York after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was diagnosed in 2016 and publicly shared his struggle two years later, hoping he and his family could help others afflicted.
The team said Harrelson’s family was planning a celebration of his life for a later date.
During a major league career that lasted from 1965-80, the light-hitting Harrelson was selected to two All-Star Games and won a Gold Glove. Known to family and teammates as Buddy, he spent his first 13 seasons with New York and was the only man in a Mets uniform for both their World Series titles.
The first came as the infield anchor of the 1969 Miracle Mets, the other as the club’s third base coach in 1986.
In one of the most famous scenes in baseball history, it was a euphoric Harrelson who waved home Ray Knight with the winning run on Bill Buckner’s error in Game 6 of the ’86 Series against Boston.
Harrelson also managed the Mets for nearly two seasons, guiding them to a second-place NL East finish in 1990 after taking over in late May. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1986, joining Rusty Staub as the first two players honored.
“It was easy to see why the ’69 guys loved him. He was great on defense and he was tough,” Mets broadcaster Ron Darling, who pitched for the club from 1983-91, told the New York Post in 2018.
In Game 3 of the 1973 NL Championship Series between the Mets and Cincinnati Reds, Rose slid hard into Harrelson at second base on a double play. The two ended up toe-to-toe and then wrestling in the infield dirt at Shea Stadium, triggering a wild, bench-clearing brawl that spilled into the outfield.
Outweighed by more than 30 pounds, the scrawny, gritty Harrelson got the worst of it.
But he didn’t back down.