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Mookie Wilson in Song and Fight

May 26, 2001


Mookie Wilson Has Room for Song and Fight


On a dreary, rain-drenched afternoon, Mookie Wilson and family revealed three dimensions of a baseball family's life.

Wilson, the Mets' first-base and outfield coach, was in the clubhouse preparing for batting practice yesterday. Fifty yards down the corridor his son, Preston, relaxed in the Florida Marlins clubhouse. Upstairs, Wilson's wife, Rosa, and two of their three daughters, Adesina and Ernestine, prepared to go home.

For 30 minutes they came together -- mother, father and three children -- singing Wilson's labor of love. Rosa and the girls drove up from Bamberg, S.C., to help unveil at Shea Stadium the family's new gospel CD: "Don't Worry, the Lord will Carry You Through."

The CD is a compilation of nine gospel songs written by Wilson and his wife. The genesis of the CD was long car rides with the two exchanging ideas and sharing a vision.

"It started with he and I writing songs back and forth, driving in the car and humming tunes and saying how do you like this, how do you like that?" Rosa recalled. "We were like, ĀI think we can do this, I think our family can sing.' There were a lot of practices, a lot of disagreements."

For 40 minutes on Wednesday, they sang a sampling of music on the CD. The voices weren't as relaxed as in the studio or in church in South Carolina, but the renditions were rich enough to give a glimpse of Mookie Wilson baseball fans may not have known. Most fans remember Wilson as the hero of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Wilson's dribbler went under the glove of Bill Buckner, which allowed the winning run to score. But there's much more.

Wilson is a lyricist, a poet, ever writing thoughts and insights in a black journal.

"Mookie's the type of person, he's what you see," his wife said. "He's real. He's always written his words down, his inner feelings. He used to write things to me, just daily stuff. If anything happened on the team or anything on the news that he felt concerned about, he would write it down and we'd discuss it."

Wilson said his original idea for a post- baseball project was not music. "I was thinking about writing a book," Wilson said. "I had the notes, I guess it wasn't time. Then I thought, ĀWhat is there about me that people would want to read about?' To me, my life is pretty boring because it's simple. It's really, really simple. You don't don't see many books about people with simple lives."

A book about the 1986 Mets through the eyes of Mookie Wilson -- that might sell. "But I wasn't going to write a baseball book," Wilson said. "If I wrote a book it would be about life and how it relates to me."

Wilson believes in the power of spirit. He was the first African-American baseball player at the University of South Carolina, and that experience tested his spirit. His father died a couple of years ago, and that saddened his spirit.

There is a powerful moment on the CD -- a track entitled "Just Another Reminder" when Wilson's father-in-law, Preston Hicks, sang the lead solo. Hicks suffered a stroke that robbed him of a voice that Wilson said "shook the house." He recovered enough to sing the lead.

"Afterwards he was ill for three days," Rosa said. "It took a toll on him, but it was amazing how the spirit just moved with him while he was recording."

Meanwhile, in the here and now, Wilson's Mets have a problem that they seem to be resolving. Opposing pitchers appeared to be throwing at Mets with no fear of retaliation.

Until last night, the Mets had taken turning the other cheek to another level.

After Brad Penny hit Tsuyoshi Shinjo in the seventh inning, Todd Zeile responded by hitting a three-run homer. As he rounded third base, Zeile said something to Penny, who came off the mound and angrily gestured toward Zeile. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied for a scrum on the infield, but no one was ejected.

"At some point you have to fight," Wilson said. "I'm not an expert on the Bible, I'm far from being a theologian. But I do know that in the Bible, there came a time when everyone had to stop and fight. You just have know when and how to fight."

The Mets went on to win the game, 4-3, on Timo Perez's single in the 10th inning. They now have their first three-game winning streak of the season and raised their record to 21-27.

Wilson said the Mets don't have to throw at anyone's head to get back. "I fight every day," Wilson said. "I've played in the big leagues 12 years, been in pro ball 22 years: I fight every day. But who said a fight has to be tongue and feet? You fight by showing you can overcome."

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