WASHINGTON -- Ray Knight has a lot of fond memories of the 1986 Mets, who won the World Series in seven games over the Red Sox. Knight was the everyday third baseman for New York that year, and he finds it hard to believe that he won the World Series MVP 30 years ago this October.
Knight often thinks about those glory days. To him, it seems like they happened recently, until he looks at his daughter, Erinn, who was born in May 1986. That's when he says, "No way. That was a long time ago."
One would think his best memory of that year was winning the MVP, but he said the camaraderie of that team is what stood out to him.
"There was a closeness that was unsurpassed," said Knight, who is now a Nationals pre and postgame host for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. "I played on some close Cincinnati Reds teams, but everybody on that Mets team was an extension of each other. It was some kind of special blend … of personalities combined with talent. There was a lot of closeness. It's a very special group."
Entering Spring Training 1986, there was talk that Knight wasn't going to be part of that group. He was coming off two unproductive years in which he was dealing with shoulder and groin injuries. Knight called those two years a nightmare. He acknowledged that he "probably looked real old" on the field.
But Knight proved to be tough mentally. Mets manager Davey Johnson gave Knight the everyday job at third base over Howard Johnson, and Knight ended up having his last productive year in the big leagues, hitting .298 with 11 home runs and 76 RBIs.
"There were six people [in the Mets' front office], and four voted for me to get released," Knight said. "Davey and someone else -- I never knew who the other person was -- said we need to keep him. He is instrumental to this ballclub's makeup, mentally. Davey felt I was healthy, lost weight and got stronger."
Knight's career would end after the 1988 season. Because he was a World Series hero, Knight said, fans believe he had a better baseball career than he actually did. He was a .271 career hitter with 84 home runs and 595 RBIs.
"Everybody talks about how good a player I was. But I never reached the place I wanted to reach," Knight said. "I thought I could be a lifetime .300 hitter. I ended up at .271. I started dropping off the last three years because of so many different injuries."
The Mets will honor the 1986 Mets at Citi Field on Saturday before they play the Dodgers. Knight plans to attend. It will be his first time on the field with his teammates since '86.
"I want to be involved with whatever the Mets do. This is about our team," Knight said.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.