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For Ray Knight, Old Timers' Day for the New York Mets was more than just catching up with old friends. He was back where he belonged, and it was no thanks to the Wilpons.
Knight didn’t hold back about how he felt about Fred and Jeff Wilpon, who owned the Mets prior to Steve Cohen buying the team in 2020 for $2.4 billion.
“I hadn’t spoken to Jeff Wilpon in 30 years, period,” Knight told the New York Post on Saturday after the festivities. “Never was invited back, except for the 30-year [World Series reunion]. I was never invited to throw out the first pitch, none of that stuff. And that hurts because you give everything you have, and you expect somebody to give a little something back, and that’s what this organization is doing now.
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“I love the New York Mets. I don’t like the Wilpons, I don’t like any of that deal.”
The bad relationship stems back from 1986, when Knight was named World Series MVP in a miraculous season for the Mets. New York didn’t even have their parade yet to celebrate when then-GM Frank Cashen called Knight into his office to discuss his contract for next season.
After posting a .298/.351/.424 slash line with 11 homers and 76 RBI during the regular season, on top of the World Series MVP, one might expect that Cashen and Fred Wilpon, who was in charge of the team at the time as president and CEO, would reward his efforts. Instead, he was offered a one-year deal that saw a $5,000 raise.
An angry Knight spurned the Mets, signing with the Baltimore Orioles instead for the 1987 season.
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“I didn’t even enjoy the parade. It just never went away, the hurt never went away, because it never changed,” Knight said.
“They tore the heart out of that ball club when they let me go and they let [Kevin] Mitchell go because we were two guys who made a difference in that clubhouse.”
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It was the first Mets Old Timers' Day in 28 years, and Knight was among 65 alumni that made it out to Citi Field for the fans to watch and reminisce.
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“Any time that you’ve gone to battle the way that we did and accomplished things together as a team, there’s a closeness. And these guys will tell you, there’s a closeness. There’s a fraternity,” he said.