Documentary to take new look at ‘86 Mets

By Nicholas Diunte

Filmmaker Heather Quinlan wants to give Mets fans a reason to celebrate.

Despite the current struggles of the Flushing nine, Quinlan is creating a documentary entitled “86 Mets: The Movie” to commemorate one of the brightest moments in franchise history: the 1986 World Series championship.

Approaching the 30th anniversary, former Astoria resident Quinlan thinks it is time to showcase the entirety of that season in its proper perspective.

“It’s a team worth celebrating,” Quinlan said. “Not only that team, but that era in baseball that doesn’t exist anymore — the grit combined with the glamour before it got really commercial, when it was still America’s pastime.”

The 1986 Mets were a group chock full of personalities who fit directly into the freewheeling vibe of Ed Koch’s New York City. It is that overlooked essence that Quinlan seeks to capture.

“[I want] to look back on what New York was like back at that time, to see how the Mets of Koch’s era fit that New York, as opposed to the Yankees of Giuliani’s era,” she said. “There is definitely a lot more to be said about the team and that era. They were so exciting and had such charisma on top of the game.”

When she was younger, Quinlan quickly grew enamored with the 1986 team due to an unlikely hero, the quiet Hawaiian pitcher Sid Fernandez.

“I always liked an underdog and he was the underdog of the underdogs,” she said.

After getting started in January, she has already interviewed some of the team’s most eclectic personas — Lenny Dykstra, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, but her biggest surprise thus far has been Kevin Mitchell.

The versatile Mitchell was jettisoned by the Mets shortly after the 1986 season to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Kevin McReynolds, allegedly because of Mitchell’s negative influence on Gooden and Strawberry. It is something he has long refuted.

“He felt that he was a scapegoat in a lot of ways,” she said.

Mets fans will remember Mitchell’s heroics in Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, being called upon to pinch hit while he was undressed in the clubhouse. Mitchell quickly scurried to get on his uniform to face Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi.

“One really interesting thing was he and Calvin Schiraldi were roommates in Double-A and they talked about how Schiraldi would pitch him if he ever faced him,” Quinlan said. “In Game 6 when they did face each other, Mitchell remembered that and Schiraldi pitched him exactly that way.”

Mitchell singled and eventually scored the tying run after a wild pitch.

Quinlan is planning to meet with the Mets soon with the hopes of getting their seal of approval. She has the backing of 3 Roads Productions, and former “King of Queens” executive producer Michael Weithorn. She has also started a Kickstarter campaign to raise additional funds for licensing and travel expenses to interview other members of the 1986 team.

“Mookie [Wilson] talked about how the Mets treated him like a hood ornament and how the organization has a reputation for turning their back on ’86,” she said. “I think this is a good way for the fans to contribute to show the Mets organization that this is a team worthy of celebrating and that the fans still love them.”