Saturday, October 22, 2011

New York Mets celebrate the 25th anniversary of World Series victory at Strawberry's Sports Grill

Strawberry’s Sports Grill in Douglaston was the site of a glorious reunion of the 1986 New York Mets World Series Championship team Friday evening. Over 25 members showed up on the silver anniversary of their title run, as part of a weekend series of events and appearances for the crew.

Fans paid upwards of $500 to mingle with the entire team at this private event and enjoy a wonderful open bar and seemingly endless buffet of food served by Strawberry’s staff. Darryl Strawberry himself was the consummate host, posing for photos and signing autographs at every turn of the corner, while catching up with teammates who came from far and wide for the reunion.

Rafael Santana (r.) toasts the Mets 1986 victory / N. Diunte
One such player was shortstop Kevin Elster, who was a baby-faced 22-year-old rookie shortstop in 1986. Coming from Huntington Beach, California, Elster relished the opportunity to see his teammates once again.

“I was just a baby,” said Elster. “I love coming back here. It’s great to be around all of the guys. You couldn’t pick a better group.”

The list of those in attendance ranged from the stars such as Strawberry and Keith Hernandez, to lesser known members like John Gibbons and Bruce Berenyi, both who played in 1986, but didn’t make the World Series roster. On this evening, these designations didn’t matter; the Mets alumni were just ecstatic to be in each other’s company.

“I always look forward to any chance I can get to see all the guys again," Berenyi said. "I don’t get to see hardly anybody anymore. I’m not involved in baseball so it’s kind of tough. Not being part of the actual series is kind of a mixed emotion thing for me, but everyone always makes me feel like I was a big part of it.”

Game Six of the 1986 World Series played on the big screen televisions at the restaurant and many, including the players, watched and cheered like it was unfolding before their eyes. One could hear a player's name beckoned any time they were at the plate or made a play in the field. Most whose names were called stopped their mingling to fixate themselves on the TV screens when they had the spotlight.

“I never watched myself playing in this actual game until right now,” said Elster as he watched his at-bat against Roger Clemens in the seventh inning. “I don’t remember the details, but I remember that I flew out.” 

Right on cue, Elster lofted a fly ball to Dave Henderson that ended the inning, to which Elster remarked, “I battled pretty good, didn’t I?”

As both the game and the party went to the later innings, everyone in attendance cheered whenever a Met got a hit or scored a run. Kevin Mitchell was seen with a wide grin when he scored on Bob Stanley’s wild pitch. The cheering grew louder with each pitch that Mookie Wilson fouled off until he bounced one to first base that slipped under the glove of Bill Buckner. As Ray Knight came around to score, Jesse Orosco high fived Rick Aguilera to congratulate him on his win.

For a small fraction of time, one had the feeling that they were in the clubhouse with the Mets as they tasted the spoils of victory. A celebratory toast was in order and everyone raised their glasses to the Mets. Once again, the Mets triumph reigned supreme in Queens.


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