While Mackey is known for his unfortunate case of the Yips, there was a time when he looked like a promising Pirates/Mets future star. He was originally drafted by the Giants in 1984 and saw two games in uniform for them in 1987 (wonder if there’s a picture of that out there anywhere?) before he was dealt to Pittsburgh for Don Robinson. He played in five games for the Pirates, and, as detailed in Day 20, was traded to the Mets for Randy Milligan.
Mackey made his Mets debut on April 10th as a defensive replacement. He didn’t see an actual at-bat until the 19th, as I believe he was behind both Gary Carter and Barry Lyons. He hit well in the early going, though, and hit his first (and only of that season) home run on May 14th. It looked like he was going to be a long-term fixture for the team.
Mackey had a .285/.313/.407 line in 1988, good for a 110 OPS+. He’d maintain that OPS+ through 1989 and 1990, bumping up slightly to 111 in 1990. Then came the troubles. He began having trouble throwing the ball back to the pitcher. He’d double, triple and even quadruple pump the ball before he released, and when he did, it was more often a soft toss or flip rather than a hard throw. After a while, opposing runners began to take advantage of this pre-throw idiosyncrasy and would time their delayed steals to his extra pumping motions. The fans started making fun of him, and he got wrapped up in the anxiety, making the whole mess worse. Then he got hurt on a play at the plate that season, tearing his achilles tendon, and was just never the same player after that. The throwing problem got even worse, and his bat declined this time as well. He dropped to a 100 OPS+ in 1991, then 60 in 1992, and he was shipped out of New York.
Seattle picked him up, but the problem got so bad there were times he just couldn’t throw at all. Eventually Seattle cut him loose and he tried to catch on with the Padres and Pirates, but that didn’t work, either. His once-promising career was over by 1995, derailed by the psychological issues that haunted him. Poor guy. I hear he’s better these days, and I’m glad. I really thought he was going to be something for a brief period there.
My favorite card of this set is the Score traded, as it’s a pretty nice action shot, though I do have some lingering affection for the Fleer Update, as it was a hot little item in our small town, back when we all followed the Mets after their 1986 victory. That was traded around quite a bit and having it was a status symbol on par with a Darryl Strawberry card. If we only knew…
- Day 1- Mark Grace (Cubs)
- Day 2- Al Leiter (Yankees)
- Day 3- Chris Sabo (Reds)
- Day 4- Walt Weiss (Athletics)
- Day 5- Baseballs’ Best Catch-Up
- Day 6- Craig Biggio (Astros)
- Day 7-Roberto Alomar (Padres)
- Day 8-Kirk Gibson (Dodgers)
- Day 9-Jay Buhner (Yankees/Mariners)
- Day 10-Jose Rijo (Reds)
- Day 11-Brady Anderson & Mike Boddicker (Red Sox/Orioles)
- Day 12-Pete Smith & Kevin Coffman (Braves)
- Day 13-David Wells (Blue Jays)
- Day 14-Shawn Abner (Padres)
- Day 15 – Tom Brunansky (Cardinals)
- Day 16 – Bryan Harvey (Angels)
- Day 17 – Joey Meyer (Brewers)
- Day 18 – John Dopson (Expos)
- Day 19 – Brett Butler (Giants)
- Day 20 – Randy Milligan and Tommy Gregg (Pirates)
- Day 21 – Mackey Sasser (Mets)