Hubie Brooks: Mets Alumni’ Program And His Visit

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

The organization that saw what Hubie Brooks had as a ballplayer was the New York Mets and it came at a time as a third overall round draft pick in 1978. Then the Mets were in that rebuilding stage again and Brooks was in the plan to command third base.

In Mets franchise history, and after the days of the late “Glider” Ed Charles of the 1969 Miracle championship team, third base was always hard to find the right one to man the position.

But Brooks, who was at Citi Field Friday night with former Mets greats Mookie Wilson and Lenny Harris, got his chance. The Mets saw a dependable glove at the hot corner. They got the needed production at the plate before he was traded in a package deal to the Expos for Hall of Famer Gary Carter in 1984.

“ You realize this was the first organization that gave you a chance to play,” said Brooks in the home dugout Friday night prior to the Mets 4-2 over the Atlanta Braves.

He was there as part of the initial season of former Mets that returned as part of their alumni program, directed by Jay Horwitz, the former Media relations director and a part of the Mets family the past 40 years.

Brooks had his eyes on the Mets new home for the first time, and as he said  this is a ballpark and much different than Shea Stadium. His former roommate, Wilson, was by his side again as was Harris and former Met and broadcaster Keith Hernandez.  

They shared stories and reminisced about those times on the road when players shared a room. Brooks talked about those years and how he just missed being a part of that Mets second World Series championship team of 1986. 

 “It’s for baseball,” Brooks said about Citi Field. “Not a bad seat in the house.”

He got that close look at this 2019 Mets team as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and some of the others took their swings during batting practice. It was different from those years in the 1980’s because as Hubie Brooks said, “I’m old school.”

Out of baseball since 1994, he played for five different teams in a 15-year career as a two-time All-Star with the Mets. Those were the years of starters on the mound  going more than seven innings. There were fewer home runs balls, less strikeouts, and the shift was non existent.

And the word analytics did not exist. The game has changed as we are aware and Hubie Brooks is still trying to understand what is the purpose of analytics. He is out of the game, retired, and enjoying life outside the city of Los Angeles.

As most old schoolers say, the former players and the writers, analytics is difficult to comprehend. It is also difficult to come to an understanding as to how the game has changed.

Hubie Brooks is no exception to that understanding. There was a sense this is a former player looking from the outside and disturbed about the changes that have occurred.

“I don’t understand analytics,” Brooks said. “Yet it is something new to me but seems that is where the game is going.”

The clock has become a part of the game. The number of visits to the mound by a manager are limited. Baseball in some forms is being ruled by a clock and other experimental rules used in the Atlantic Baseball League could be implemented in the next year or two. All of the changes, according to Brooks, are not the way baseball should be played.

“Speeding up the game is one thing, baseball is baseball, its’ not open to the clock but slowly getting to that point,” Brooks said. 

He was that rookie at one time, like Pete Alonso is today, and Hubie Brooks is amazed at the accomplishments of the Mets rookie home run leader. He does not know the specifics about that change in the baseball as being attributed to the increased home run production in baseball.

You see Hubie Brooks almost 30 years later. He remembered yours truly as if it was yesterday when the beat writers had a better comradery with the players. He has not talked with former teammates Doc Gooden or Darryl Strawberry and expressed interest that one day they will all reunite at Citi Field

The Mets; alumni program has brought back many former players that has been a part of the organization over the years. Perhaps as Brooks said there will be an annual Old Timers day and he would be proud to be a part of that reunion.

But for now, as all the former Mets have seen, this is a franchise with a future and  in no particular order referring to Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario. 

“I think they have done a good job,” said Brooks. “They are producing, they seem to be able to look ahead. “They have a future. “They’ve done well and go about it.”

Those Mets teams before 1986 were young and also mixed with a few veterans of Carter and Hernandez, much like the composure of this 2019 team. 

“When we first came up we started to win,” Brooks said.  “When you start to win you get confidence. You get better  and better and made the job a lot better,”

Hubie Brooks did not have Hall of Fame numbers and perhaps his biggest accomplishment was setting a Mets record with a 24-game hitting streak from May 1 to June 1, 1984, batting .398 in 83 at bats.

Analytics had nothing to do with that streak and that good eye at the plate was a trademark.  He was a good teammate and the 63-year old Arizona State product is content that he got to play a game he loved.

“I love baseball, I love the New York Mets,” he said.  

Comment:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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