For just a moment, Buck Showalter stepped away from his unwavering reflections on baseball and shared a special memory of his father this Father’s Day.
The Mets manager’s father, Bill Showalter, died in 1991, when Buck was hired as Yankees manager. And decades later, a meaningful Christmas morning remains with the captain because, one year, he hasn’t figured out what to bring his father for the holiday.
Bill Showalter was 70 years old at the time. His college football playing days were nearly 50 years behind him, when Buck described it at Citi Field on Saturday as, “a woman called.” His father was a professor at Milligan College in Tennessee, where Bill Showalter attended college before his education was interrupted by World War II, where he served overseas for more than three years in the US Army’s First Infantry Division. . He participated in the invasions of Algiers, North Africa, and Sicily, and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, where he received the Bronze Star for gallantry and bravery under fire.
The professor exposed the Milligan College football game film, which captured some of Bill Showalter’s video in “single wing” formation, as Buck vividly described the play on the field in the 1940s. The “lady” called Buck a few days before Christmas, just as the captain was racking his brains for a gift for his father.
“I said, sorry? I was interested in them, so I got them, and worked hard to put them on the VCR,” Showalter said.
He converted the film into a video cassette and after his family received the initial presents on Christmas morning, Showalter pulled his father aside and made him sit in his usual chair.
“Can you imagine being 70 years old and suddenly turning 20?” Showalter said. “That was just before going into World War II. Seeing his teammates and everything. Can you imagine that?”
Asked if there’s a quality Showalter inherited from his father, the Mets captain just said: “It’s going to be a tough task.” Showalter got a little emotional a few weeks ago on D-Day and the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy. For a moment, Showalter allowed his father to escape everything that came after Milligan College and re-live his athletic past.
Those old college football tapes were a hit for the Showalter family that Christmas, at least until Buck’s mom saw a certain cheerleader who got in the shot.
“It’s funny at the end, they kept playing the movie, and he was coming out of the field with his leather helmet on without a face mask and he put his hand around some cheerleader,” Showalter recalled. “And my mom was sitting there, and she goes, ‘Bill, who is that?’ So we put it off pretty quickly. It was a matter of time before I met my mother. But it was cool. I still got those tapes.”
21 and over
The Mets entered a season-high 21 games of over .500 on Sunday. The last time he was above .500 21 games was on September 29, 2015 when he was 89–68 years old. The last time the Mets exceeded .500 in 22 games was on September 27, 2015, when the club’s highwater mark for the year was 89–67. It is the third fastest Mets to reach over .500 points in 20 games. The 1986 team reached there in 42 games (31–11) and the ’88 team reached 54 games (37–17).
In celebration of Juneteenth, the Mets donated 500 tickets for Sunday’s game to local organizations in Queens. Citibank also sponsored a pregame lunch at Bullpen Plaza for all attendees. Right-hander Taijuan Walker, outfielder Nick Plummer and first base coach Wayne Kirby broke out over lunch and spoke to the group about the importance of the Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, soldiers touched down in Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were now free.