SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Mookie Wilson’s clinic at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Saturday afternoon was a hit, as the New York Mets’ legend spent the morning instructing youths on the school’s varsity baseball field.
Wilson, 60, spent time with the kids working on a variety of aspects of the game, such as outfield, infield, bunting and baserunning. The elementary- and middle school-aged players also enjoyed complimentary autographs and photo opportunities with the member of the 1986 World Champions in a post-camp pizza lunch.
“Anytime I can teach baseball to kids is great,” Wilson said.
Wilson also cited the loss of fundamentals in the game as a motive inspiring to him to teach it, adding that “a lot is being lost in the translation of the game, because most people are focused on what the Major Leaguers do, and a lot of fundamentals are not being done at Major League levels, so kids don’t see the need to the need to do [them]."
"So anytime I get an opportunity to do this, and show kids the fundamental things about the game, I’m always happy about doing that,” added the popular former ballplayer, who works as a goodwill ambassador for the Mets.
One lesson, however, “doesn’t change anything”, according to the South Carolina native: “This [camp] helps if there’s a follow-up program," Wilson said. "I mean, one day doesn’t change anything, but if they have some follow-up that can continue some of these fundamental techniques. Yes, it can be very helpful.”
Wilson was a prominent piece of the 1986 Mets’ lineup, among other successful seasons. He accumulated a.274 batting average, with 327 stolen bases in a 12-year Major League career. Of those 327 stolen bases, 281 came as a Met – good for second on the Mets’ all-time stolen bases list, behind Jose Reyes.
The 2016 season is the 30th anniversary of the Mets’ second and most-recent championship, and when asked about this year’s Mets, Mookie said, “The current Mets team right now is tough to gauge because they’re not at full strength, but I do like the way they’re headed. We have good pitching, and we have improved a lot of areas; it’s just that offensively we have been a little short and that’s hurt our team.”
Profits from Saturday's clinic will go towards the Scotch Plains-Fanwood 12U travel team's participation in a tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y. later this summer.