Chris Donnelly, author of the new book, Doc, Donnie, The Kids and Bill Brawl: How the 1985 Mets and Yankees Fought for New York’s Baseball Soul, is my guest as recorded for my Mets Rewind website. You can subscribe to my podcast through iTunes here.
The 1985 Mets were filled with young, homegrown talent led by outfielder Darryl Strawberry and pitcher Dwight Gooden. They were complemented by veterans including Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Ray Knight, and George Foster. Leading them all was Davey Johnson, a player’s manager. It was a team filled with hard‑nosed players who won over New York with their dirty uniforms, curtain calls, after-hours activities, and because, well, they weren’t the Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Yankees featured some of the game’s greatest talent. Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly, and Don Baylor led a dynamic offense, while veterans such as Ron Guidry and Phil Niekro rounded out the pitching staff. But the Yankees’ abundance of talent was easily overshadowed by their dominating owner, George Steinbrenner, whose daily intrusiveness made the 1985 Yankees appear more like a soap opera than a baseball team. There was a managerial firing before the end of April and the fourth return of Billy Martin as manager. Henderson was fined for missing two games, Lou Piniella almost resigned as coach, and Martin punctured a lung and then gave drunken managerial instructions from his hospital room. Despite all that, the Yankees almost won their division.
While the drama inside the Mets’ clubhouse only made the team more endearing to fans, the drama inside the Yankees’ clubhouse had the opposite effect. The result was the most attention-grabbing and exciting season New York would see in generations.