BROOKLYN, NY- Twenty years ago to
the day, Sid Fernandez was finishing up what would become not only one of the best years of his career, but what would eventually
turn out to be the greatest season in Mets history.
Playing a huge part in the 1986 Mets 108-win
Championship season with a 16-6 record and an electric curveball that helped him strikeout 200 hitters, “El Sid”
was a fan favorite at Shea and went on to win over 100 games with the club before signing with the Baltimore Orioles as
a free agent in 1993 after eight years in Queens.
Despite his continued success as a big
league pitcher, Fernandez was at his best in ’86 and still believes the aura surrounding the team that year played a
huge part in his success.
“We just had a great team. People
thought we were cocky because we just beat everyone,” said Fernandez at Keyspan Park, where he was being honored
at Hawaiian night on August 21. “We just played well as a team. I wish that whole team could have stayed together just
a little bit longer. That would have been nice.”
Allowing only 6.85 hits per nine innings
during the course of his career, [which is fourth in Major League history behind Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez]
no one ever doubted Fernandez’s talent on the mound.
However, many have wondered just how successful
the 6’1, 230 pound Hawaiian could have been if he was able to fight the numerous knee injuries he sustained during his
career. Fernandez himself even feels he could have been more successful if his knees would have held up for him, but insists
injuries are a part of baseball.
“A lot of things could have been
different,” said Fernandez. “But you can’t look back at things like that because you’ll never sleep
at night. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in life and baseball. Regardless, it was an honor for me to play major
league baseball and to be able to do this for a living, it was fun. ”
With his playing career coming to an end
in 1997 [He did sign a minor league contract with the Yankees in 2004, but made only one minor league game appearance before
retiring again], Fernandez has had a chance to let the experiences of his solid 14-year big league career settle in and says
he will never forget the magic of 1986.
“Aside from Ray Knight, Gary [Carter]
and Keith [Hernandez] we were all the same age,” said Fernandez. “We got along on and off the field, we were a
family. We played every game like it was our last, we played hard. That’s why we did what we did.”