Home News Mets’ season-long celebration of late Bud Harrelson begins with Opening Day festivities

Mets’ season-long celebration of late Bud Harrelson begins with Opening Day festivities

It didn’t take long Friday for Bud Harrelson’s eldest daughter to reflect on her father’s famous fight with Pete Rose.

Asked about her earliest memory of her dad’s Mets playing career, Kimberly Harrelson-Psarras said she remembers Harrelson coming home after his benches-clearing brawl with the eventual MLB hit king in the 1973 NLCS “like it was yesterday.”

“I remember him being banged up,” Harrelson-Psarras said at Citi Field. “He didn’t really talk about it. I can remember him being very calm and somber about it, but you definitely could tell he was in a scuffle.”

The Game 3 fight, which occurred after a hard slide by Rose into second base, remains symbolic of Harrelson, a scrappy, undersized infielder who never backed down. Those gritty attributes made Harrelson, who died in January at age 79 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, an all-time fan favorite.

CORRECTS THAT HARRELSON DIED EARLY THURSDAY, JAN. 11, NOT WEDNESDAY NIGHT, JAN. 10, AS ORIGINALLY SENT -FILE - Pete Rose, left, of the Cincinnetti Reds, swings at New York Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson after Rose failed to break up Harrelson's double play in Game 3 of the National League Championship series at Shea Stadium in New York, Oct. 8, 1973. Bud Harrelson, the scrappy and sure-handed shortstop who fought Pete Rose on the field during a playoff game and helped the New York Mets win an astonishing championship, died early Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. He was 79. The Mets said Thursday morning that Harrelson died at a hospice house in East Northport, New York after a long battle with Alzheimer's.(AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)
Bud Harrelson (r.) gets into a brawl with Pete Rose during the 1973 NLCS.

The Mets plan to honor Harrelson throughout the 2024 season — a celebration that began Friday when his grandchildren threw out the ceremonial first pitches before Opening Day at Citi Field. In total, 23 family members attended Opening Day, where the Mets held a pregame moment of silence for Harrelson.

The Mets will wear commemorative patches featuring Harrelson’s No. 3 and his nickname, “Buddy,” on their jersey sleeves throughout the 2024 season.

“When you think about the history of the Mets, Bud Harrelson is just such an important part of that,” owner Steve Cohen said Friday. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

The 5-11 Harrelson batted .236 with seven home runs and 127 stolen bases over 16 MLB seasons, the first 13 of which he played with the Mets. His 1,322 games with the Mets rank fourth in franchise history, while his 1,029 hits rank seventh.

Harrelson was a player on the Mets’ World-Series-winning 1969 team; a coach on the 1986 championship team; and their manager from 1990-91.

“He was kind,” Harrelson-Psarras said. “He was generous. With the fans, there wasn’t a person that he turned away. A scrappy player. He’s tiny, but he got out there and he did it, and he put his heart and soul into every game.”

His tussle with the much-bigger Rose, then of the Cincinnati Reds, remains a lasting image.

“All that was two aggressive guys playing in a series that’s gonna give you the right to go to the World Series,” Rose told the Daily News in January following Harrelson’s death. “Of course, the Mets beat us that series. I tried to break up a double play, and he took offense to it and called me a name, and I really didn’t hit him — I just grabbed him.”

Added Rose, “He was fun to play against. We had an altercation, which is part of the game. I’ll miss him, because Bud was a pretty decent guy.”

The Mets inducted Harrelson, a two-time All-Star, into their Hall of Fame in 1986, six years after he retired. He’s the only Met to be in uniform for both World Series-winning teams.

“This is a person who is arguably one of the more beloved Met figures of all time; someone who impacted multiple generations of Met fan bases, and in a very impactful way,” president of baseball operations David Stearns said Friday. “To have his family here today, to be able to commemorate him with a patch throughout the season, I think it’s important for us.”


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