On this date in 1982, the Mets traded fan-favorite and resident hearthrob (and future-former SNY broadcaster) Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers in what is arguably one of the best trades in franchise history. The Mets received two young pitchers in return, Walt Terrell and Ron Darling, both of whom* would go on to play important roles on the 86 and 88 teams.
*I know what you’re thinking, but Terrell was later traded straight-up for Howard Johnson. So he was pretty important, in a round-about way.
Darling would go on to win 99 regular season games and Game 4 of the 86 World Series. Often mediocre during most of his Mets career (101 OPS+ over nine seasons), Darling saved his best performances for that key season, compiling a career best 127 OPS+ and earning a fifth place Cy Young vote. He was traded to the Expos in 1991 for the immortal Tim Burke, but finished the season in Oakland. The following year he appeared in the postseason again as the A’s lost the ALCS to the eventual champion Toronto Blue Jays.
He ended his playing career in Oakland in 1995 and launched his broadcasting career there after a five-year hiatus. Despite a brief foray into the motion picture industry (he appeared in Shallow Hal and The Day After Tomorrow), Darling was back in the booth in 2005, calling Washington Nationals games during their inagural season. Darling returned to New York in 2006, appearing first in SNY’s studio shows but eventually moving into the booth to call games with Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez (and throwing out the first pitch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS).
Ron’s been a part of the Mets family for 18 years now, and it all began on this date in 1982. No foolin’