Former New York Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson, best remembered for his base hit against Bill Buckner and the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, is going to become an ordained minister, per MLB.com.
Mookie Wilson to Become Ordained Minister
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Lindsay Berra of MLB.com wrote about the development in her June 3 article:
“Mookie Wilson is well aware that the first thing baseball fans think of when they hear his name is the ground ball he hit between Bill Buckner‘s legs to win Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for the New York Mets. So aware, in fact, that the first paragraph of the preface to his new book,’Mookie: Life, Baseball and the ’86 Mets,’ addresses it, just to get it out of the way.
“But there’s so much more to the Mook. Born William Hayward Wilson, he still has no idea why folks started calling him ‘Mookie.’ Though he’s an accomplished chef, he is a devotee of protein shakes. He’s a fisherman, a licensed securities trader and a truck driver who goes by the handle ‘Night Rider.’
“And soon Wilson will be an ordainder Baptist minister.”
Wilson, who addressed a group of student-athletes at LaGuardia Community College last month on the topic of “Sports and Race in Amercia,” would be an ideal preacher, says Berra.
“It’s easy to see why Wilson will make a good preacher. His megawatt smile is as bright under the stage lights as it was under the outfield lights at Shea, and his contagious laugh ripples into the microphone as he tells the LaGuardia students that the American Dream is about being happy, not making money.
“‘I’m a retired athlete, plain and simple, who has to work for a living, and there is no shame in that,’ Wilson said. ‘I’m proud of who I am. I’m happy in my own skin. I accept my faults. I’m not perfect, and I’m not trying to be.
“What Wilson is trying to do is make the congregation of Zion Mill Creek Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. realize he’s more than just a ballplayer. Even as a child on the farm, religion and baseball were separate — Saturdays were for ballgames, Sundays for church.
“Wilson, whose wife, Rosa, is already an ordained minister, became involved with Zion Mill Creek Baptist by starting a Future Leaders program, mentoring young men on Saturday mornings and taking them on outings.
“He enjoyed it so much that he began taking ministerial classes, learning to write sermons and practicing his delivery. Wilson is now an associate pastor but has yet to go through the process (an oral examination) to become officially ordained, mostly becaue his duties as an ambassador and instructor for the Mets often call him away from the church.
“‘Mookie is ready,’ said Bishop Wendell Sumter of Zion Mill Creek Baptist. ‘He’s genuine in his calling and is very humble, despite all the accolades he has received. He’s only himself. He doesn’t try to be anyone else, and when you have that spirit, people are willing to listen and hear what yo have to say.’
“Wilson knows there are people who only go to church to see ‘Mookie Wilson, center fielder’ deliver a sermon, but he’s a realist, too.
“‘If my name brings even one more person to the church who might not have come if I wasn’t there, and they feel God’s grace through one of my sermons, then it’s a very good thing,’ he said. ‘I would just prefer that people come to believe that if I had never played ball, being a minister would have been my true calling.’
“Wilson tried to make the Bible’s messages releavant to today’s society, playing on popular commercials and sayings in his sermons, such as, ‘Batteries Not Included’ and ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ But he also uses a little bit of baseball in nearly every sermon he gives, because the game taught him so much.
“‘I use baseball as a platform to get my message across, and it’s always greatly received,’ Wilson said. ‘I will use it until I run out of baseball stories.'”
The New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff also asked Wilson about his plans of becoming a preacher in his April 25, 2014 article.
Wilson said, “I’m working on my ordination. I do all the programs at my church. I do the sermons on Sundays. Because I spend so much time roaming around the country, I don’t put in as much time as I should.”
Itzkokff then asks Wilson if he wears his 1986 World Series ring when he’s preaching.
“No, but I do tell a baseball story here or there. One particular Sunday, I told the audience, ‘Before we get started, there’s one thing I need to do.’ I took my jacket off, loosened my shirt collar, did some stretching, jogged from one side of the pulpit to the other side three times, did a couple of jumping jacks and then I told them, ‘Now you’ve got that all out of the way, let’s get to why we are here.'”
The 58-year-old Wilson played 12 seasons in the majors from 1980-1991 for the Mets and Toronto Blue Jays. He amassed 1,397 hits, 67 home runs and 438 RBIs on a .274 batting average, per Baseball-Reference.com.
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Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.