How NYC baseball collapsed in the ’90s and came back from the brink
More than 2 million baseball fans gathered in lower Manhattan on Oct. 28, 1986, to celebrate the New York Mets’ second-ever World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox. It was a golden moment for the franchise, which appeared ready to topple the Yankees from their long-held position of dominance in New York baseball. But the glory was short-lived. In the years that followed, the Mets’ fortunes declined sharply, and they joined the Yankees in a crosstown race to the bottom. Exploring the tumultuous early 1990s period in New York baseball, “Road to Nowhere” by Chris Donnelly reveals the behind-the-scenes drama of the city’s two baseball teams. From rampant egos and excess to heartache and heroism, the book shines a light on every aspect of New York baseball at the time.
What is “Road to Nowhere” about?
“Road to Nowhere” by Chris Donnelly is a book that explores the early 1990s period in New York baseball, revealing the behind-the-scenes drama of the city’s two baseball teams.
What happened to the New York Mets after their 1986 World Series win?
After their landmark World Series win in 1986, the Mets’ fortunes declined sharply. In the 1990s, the team finished with a losing record in six straight seasons, and they only made the playoffs once, in 1999.
What happened to the New York Yankees in the early 1990s?
Injuries and an aging roster saw the Yankees slumping in the early 1990s. At times, it seemed as though the Yankees’ management was more concerned with trivial matters such as players’ appearances than with team performance. Owner George Steinbrenner famously had a policy of banning long hair and most facial hair on players.
Did the Mets and Yankees have a crosstown rivalry in the 1990s?
Yes, the Mets and Yankees had a crosstown rivalry in the 1990s. However, both teams were struggling during this period, and it wasn’t until the signing of shortstop Derek Jeter in 1992 that the Yankees saw a resurgence in their fortunes.
Who is Derek Jeter?
Derek Jeter is a former professional baseball player who played for the New York Yankees from 1995 to 2014. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and was a key figure in the Yankees’ resurgence in the 1990s. Jeter won five World Series championships with the Yankees and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.
The Fall and Rise of NYC Baseball in the 1990s
On October 28, 1986, over 2 million baseball fans gathered in lower Manhattan to celebrate the New York Mets’ second-ever World Series victory. Many viewed this as a turning point for New York baseball, as it signaled the end of the Yankees’ dominance. However, the Mets’ success was short-lived, and both teams soon entered into a race to the bottom. In his new book “Road to Nowhere – The Early 1990s Collapse and Rebuild of New York City Baseball,” author Chris Donnelly examines how both teams fared during this tumultuous period.
Donnelly’s book sheds light on the highs and lows of New York baseball during the 1990s. From rampant egos and entitlement to heartache and heroism, the book covers it all. The Yankees, who had long been the dominant team in New York, had a rough start to the decade, with injuries and an aging roster contributing to a decline in their performance. Owner George Steinbrenner’s infamous policy on players’ appearances, which banned long hair and most facial hair except for neatly groomed mustaches, only added to the team’s troubles. When Yankees captain Don Mattingly sported a mullet, he was benched when he refused to have it cut.
According to Donnelly, Steinbrenner’s focus was more on being the top dog in New York than on leading a successful team. His need to outdo the Mets in terms of record and media coverage led to “a vicious cycle of bad trades, bad signings, bad managerial decisions, and incredibly bad personal judgment.” Steinbrenner’s obsession with trivial matters like players’ hair overshadowed the team’s on-field performance, and in July 1990, he was banned from baseball for life for paying an associate to dig up dirt on the team’s multiple All-Star batter, Dave Winfield.
The Mets didn’t fare much better during this period. After their landmark World Series win in 1986, they seemed set for more success, yet, in the 1990s, they struggled to achieve a winning record. As Donnelly notes, the team began to come apart after their championship win, with issues like alcohol, drugs, and fights among players plaguing the team. Pitcher Dwight Gooden, who missed the team’s championship parade in 1986, was caught getting high with his drug dealer while his teammates celebrated on TV.
Despite their issues, both the Yankees and the Mets eventually rebounded. The signing of shortstop Derek Jeter in 1992 helped spark the Yankees’ comeback, and he went on to become one of the game’s greats, winning the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996 and helping the Yankees win four World Series titles. The Mets, too, eventually found success, making the playoffs in 1999.
Donnelly’s book is a fascinating look at a pivotal time in New York baseball. It highlights the highs and lows of two teams that were always neck-and-neck in terms of success, and it offers insights into what drives and derails sport’s greatest champions.