Buddy is. He's the only person left from the '69 World Series roster regularly putting on a baseball uniform. At Long Island Ducks games he'll talk to anybody about anything and sign anything, in the name of promotion and because it's in his nature. (The Ducks' manager is Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher who played for the Mets in '86, when they won their other World Series title.) Buddy played for the Mets, coached the Mets, managed the Mets. He's the same as forever: slim, twitchy, excitable, personable, candid. In June, while sitting in a cramped, bare-bones changing room in the bowels of the Ducks' stadium in Central Islip, N.Y, he said, "Eddie [Kranepool] and I fought a lot." Like Pignatano at the Bridgeview Diner, Harrelson was staring off into nowhere. "I don't know why. He's a good man."
The Ducks' game against the Camden Riversharks was over, and Harrelson was talking about the old days: Seaver calling pitches to Grote by picking up a rosin bag; Buddy hitching rides to Shea with Eddie Yost in his tiny VW Bug and returning to the Mets' trainer, Gus Mauch, to have his knee worked on in his final season, as a Texas Ranger. Harrelson had been talking for an hour and was still going strong when a young Dominican player, in street clothes, his hair wet, appeared at the open door. In halting English he said, "Fans waiting for autographs, say they fans of hay-sicks."
"Hay-sicks?" Harrelson said. "Oh—'86! They're looking for Gary Carter. He's gone for the night."
Buddy's year is '69, as it was for Cleon and Tommie and Swoboda and Seaver and Duffy Dyer and millions of others. You, maybe, among them. In that changing room, small and dingy and impersonal, Harrelson had gone to the effort of hanging a framed photograph: Hodges, his manager, in living color.
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