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Mets Stars Share How ‘Once Upon A Time In Queens’ Captures New York City Life In 1986

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 22, 2021

Nick Davis wanted to present the 1986 New York Mets in a different light, one that captured the entire New York City vibe in the 1980s. To celebrate its 35th anniversary, ESPN released the 30 for 30 documentary, Once Upon A Time In Queens. Davis spoke at the Citi Field premier alongside Bobby Ojeda and Mookie Wilson from the 1986 Mets team about his vision as director for the four-part series.

“Never before have we experienced the full sweep of the story as it unfolded really beginning in 1977 all the way through 1986,” Davis said. “Never before has there been a team in any sport that captured the city that it played in and the time in which it played so much as the 1986 Mets. That was the story we wanted to tell.”

Wilson, who had been with the Mets since 1980, shared a veteran perspective of how the team slowly made its way from the bottom to the top. He explained how their rise was a reflection of the city they so proudly represented.

“That team was a mirror image of what New York was all about,” Wilson said. “We came together with one common goal, that was to win. If you learn nothing else from the ‘86 team—when you work together, you can do anything, even the seemingly impossible. There’s no way that team should have survived, we should have self-destructed. We should have killed each other.”

Despite some of the crazy antics that transpired during the season, including one where four players were arrested for an altercation with police officers at a Texas bar, the team did not implode.

During the past thirty-five years, some of the players have grown weary of answering the same questions about the 1986 season, including the aforementioned fight. When Davis approached Ojeda, he was admittedly skeptical; however, Ojeda said Davis’ approach and demeanor quickly swayed the former pitcher to be a part of the documentary.

“First of all, he came across as so genuine,” Ojeda said. “He had a different tact. He wanted to hear from us as people. You don’t really get that when you are in uniform and on the field. There is a wall, an invisible wall, now there is this fence that separates you. He transcended that. He took down the fence. What he did, he took that and multiplied that by 20 guys. You got to hear in their own words more about their feelings and less about the cliché stories.”

Wilson stressed how important the documentary was to revealing a side of the 1986 Mets that most fans haven’t witnessed. He relayed a story about how his teammates helped to look after his son (and future major leaguer) Preston as a young kid who spent his summers around the team.

“You guys knew who we were as players,” Wilson said. “Not many people understand who we were as family members, as friends. I used to take my son Preston on the road with me a lot. They used to knock on my door, pick him up, and I wouldn’t see him again until game time.

“I felt very comfortable doing that. These guys were family men. I hope you can understand how close they were to their families. When my son was on the field, five guys would surround him so he didn’t get hit by a baseball. These are human beings. These are men; they are people just like you. They have families and lives other than baseball.”

Another aspect the players felt the documentary stressed was the overwhelming fan support throughout the season. Ojeda recalled how he came back onto the field after winning the World Series to toast the fans who supported the team throughout its entire run.

“After we won the whole thing, we went into the locker room, we’re all in there, and I remember thinking how much you all meant to us at that moment,” Ojeda said. “I said to a couple of my buddies, ‘Let’s go out to the mound, I want to have a drink with these folks.’ We had a couple of bottles of champagne, and sat there and toasted you guys because you believed in us. You hung with us, got on board with us and we loved it.”

Throughout the four-part series, Davis weaved the different narratives together to tell a story not only about a magical season on the field, but the happenings off the field that represented what the team and the city was about in 1986. He expressed how impactuful it was for everyone to come together to make this documentarya reality.

“This is not just some sob story,” Davis said. “This is a full complete picture of a group of guys who came together one magical year. I came to think of it as a heist movie, as a bunch of loveable rogues come together for one great score. That was what it was like. They should have won more? It’s a miracle they won one. It’s a tremendous gift that these guys gave us that year. The gift you guys gave us is to be able to tell this story all these years later.”


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