As the Mets get set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their 1986 World Championship team, here’s a chronological timeline of how it all came together. Unfortunately, the architect of that championship team, Mets GM Frank Cashen, is no longer with us. But his legacy and the impact he had on our franchise lives on forever.
The following shows exactly how all the players from that Mets post season roster came to be acquired.
I broke it down to further illustrate how Cashen didn’t solely rely upon hoarding prospects as his means to an end. They surely helped, but had it not been for the trades that brought in many stars of their time, 1986 may have never happened.
Lets get to the list which I present in chronological order. The first three players were acquired before Frank Cashen was named general manager.
Essentially the team he inherited already had what would be his starting second baseman and center fielder, as well as his closer.
The Evolution of the 1986 Mets
Wally Backman, 2B: Drafted in first round
Mookie Wilson, LF: Drafted in second round
Dec. 8, 1978
Darryl Strawberry, RF: Drafted in first round
June 10, 1980
Doug Sisk, RP: Signed as amateur free agent
Kevin Mitchell, OF/INF: Signed as an amateur free agent
Lenny Dykstra, OF: Drafted in 13th round
April 1, 1982
Dwight Gooden, SP: Drafted in first round
Roger McDowell: Drafted in third round
Dec. 10, 1982
Feb. 3, 1983
Ed Hearn: Signed as a free agent
Rick Aguilera: Drafted in third round
June 15, 1983
Dec. 8, 1983
Davey Johnson becomes manager
Jan. 17, 1984
Rafael Santana: Signed as a free agent
Kevin Elster: Drafted in second round
June 15, 1984
August 28, 1984
Ray Knight: Traded by the Houston Astros to the New York Mets for players to be named later. The New York Mets sent Gerald Young (August 31, 1984), Manuel Lee (August 31, 1984) and Mitch Cook (minors) (September 10, 1984) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.
Dec. 7, 1984
Dec. 10, 1984
March 30, 1985
Randy Niemann: Traded from White Sox for minor leaguers Gene Autry and Ken Reed
Nov. 13, 1985
Jan. 16, 1986
Aug. 3, 1986
Lee Mazzilli: Signed as a free agent (originally drafted in first round, 1973)
Of the 25 championship players here is the breakdown:
- Three players (Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman, Mookie Wilson) were inherited.
- Five were drafted in the first three rounds. (Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Roger McDowell, Rick Aguilera, Kevin Elster)
- One was drafted in the late rounds. (Lenny Dykstra, 13th Round)
- Two were signed as amateur free agents. (Kevin Mitchell, Doug Sisk)
- Three were signed as MLB free agents. (Rafael Santana, Ed Hearn, Lee Mazzilli)
- Eleven players were acquired in trades, many of which included the Mets top prospects. (Tim Teufel, Sid Fernandez, Ray Knight, Bruce Berenyi, Danny Heep, Bob Ojeda, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Ron Darling)
One of Frank Cashen’s first signature move after being named GM, was to trade for Reds’ All Star George Foster and then sign him to what was at the time the richest contract in baseball. Foster would be released in mid season during 1986 after making some inflammatory remarks about the front office. He was immediately replaced by longtime fan favorite Lee Mazzilli.
Sadly, the dynasty Cashen was hoping for never materialized and within two years he began dismantling the championship team he had built. Ray Knight, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Roger McDowell were either traded or released.
Frank Viola was brought in along with Juan Samuel, and Gregg Jefferies was going to be the new face of the franchise. But just five years after that famous trickler down the first base line, and after a dismal fifth place finish, Cashen stepped down as GM of the Mets and was replaced by Al Harazin.
25 years later, Frank Cashen was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on August 1, 2010 along with his manager Davey Johnson, and his two top draft picks; Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry.
The brilliant Frank Cashen, who brought championships to both the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets, passed away on June 30, 2014. I will always remember his friendly smile, his commitment to winning, and of course his bow ties.