Former Met, NL MVP Mitchell Facing Possible Jail Time
On Thursday, a judge in Chula Vista, CA ordered the 48 year old Mitchell to stand trial from an incident at the Bonita Golf Course. In July, Mitchell allegedly punched another golfer in the head repeatedly, nearly causing the man to suffer a concussion. The individual, whose name has not been released, was confronted by Mitchell for supposedly making ‘disparaging remarks’ about him.
The former NL MVP is no stranger to the legal system. Growing up in San Diego the one time gang member had been shot 3 times in his youth. In 1991, he was arrested for rape but the charges were dropped. In 99, he was arrested for assault after beating up his father. While managing the Sonoma County Crushers in 01, Mitchell was involved in a bench clearing brawl in which he punched the owner of the opposing team in the head. As a result he was suspended 9 games. The following year he was suspended 7 games after beating up his own 3rd base coach. He currently owes the state of California almost $5.2 million in unpaid taxes. Former teammate Doc Gooden claimed that during the 1986 season an ‘enraged’ Mitchell physically held him hostage and forced him to watch as he decapitated his girlfriend’s cat. Mitchell adamantly denied these accusations.
Mitchell only appeared in 115 games for the Mets, mainly as a utility player. Gary Carter nicknamed him ‘World’ cause he could play everywhere. In 328 AB’s he hit 275 with 12 HR’s and knocked in 44 RBI’s. But he is best remembered for his role in Game 6.
As the Mets trailed 5-3 going to the bottom of the 10th Mitchell returned to the clubhouse and began changing out of his uniform. When he was advised that Davey Johnson wanted him to pinch-hit in case Carter was able to get something going with 2 outs, he was already in his street clothes and on the phone making plane reservations to go home for the winter. Urban legend has it that he did not dress completely for his At-Bat, not having time to put on his cup. It was Mitchell who ultimately scored the tying run on Bob Stanley’s wild pitch.
He caused a huge dilemma for GM Frank Cashen. There was no doubt that Mitchell had the talent to be a great player. But with that talent came the fact that he was known to be hot-headed, volatile and short-tempered. Two months after getting that big hit, Mitchell was traded to San Diego along with Stan Jefferson and Shawn Abner for Kevin McReynolds, Gene Walter and Adam Ging.
Halfway through the 87 season Mitchell was traded to the Giants. In 1989, Mitchell helped lead San Francisco to the Pennant. He hit 291 with 47 HR’s and 125 RBI’s and became the first Giant to win the MVP since Willie McCovey 2 decades earlier.
However, 89 was the peak of his career. He was a 2-time All-Star but his indifferent attitude on the field combined with off-field distractions and numerous problems in his personal life caused friction with teammates and team owners. He frequently arrived in Spring Training 30-35 pounds overweight. In 1995, he played in Japan, becoming the highest paid ballplayer in that nation’s history. But he quickly wore out his welcome there as well. When he needed to have knee surgery, he refused to let the Japanese doctors operate and chose to fly back to the US, a move that was seen as a huge slap in the face to the proud Japanese people.
Mitchell left the game in 1998, a career 284 hitter with 234 HR’s, 760 RBI’s and 630 Runs. In his brief but memorable 13 year career, he played for 8 different teams.
About the Author: Rob Silverman
It was 1973 when my dad introduced this 7 year old kid to Baseball and the Mets. It's been a love and passion that has lasted for 40 years, much longer than my first marriage. Since I was little, there've been 2 things I've always dreamed of: 1) Being a successful author and 2) playing right field for the Mets after Rusty Staub retired. Although 4 decades have passed and based on the current condition of the Mets, I have not given up on either dream
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