On June 9, 1999, Bobby Valentine got ejected from a game against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 12th inning for arguing a catcher interference call against Mike Piazza, and returned wearing a Groucho Marx-inspired disguise. He was fined and suspended two games for the hijinx. No matter what Bobby Valentine ever does in his life, he will always be remembered as the guy who wore a silly disguise in a dugout. To honor the occassion, we caught up with various Mets players who were there that night and got their thoughts on them.*
Rickey Henderson: Who? Rickey doesn't mess around with those front office guys. He's a front office guy? I just play my game, man. Get between those lines and run, you know? You don't wind up with 1,406 stolen bases in a career by accident. [Rickey is asked whether he remembers playing with the Mets.] Like I said man, I can't get bogged down in who played where and for who. The Mets? Never heard of 'em. Rickey Henderson, him I've heard of.
Mike Piazza: Oh sure. The mustache and glasses. Classic Bobby. What a lot of people forget about that night is that I should be in the Hall of Fame. It's kind of ridiculous when you think about it. I mean, all that power and offensive production from the catcher position? Unheard of man. Another overlooked thing about that night is how everyone says I was a below-average defender. I threw out Jacob Brumfield in that game! [Piazza is shaking his head] Ridiculous, ridiculous.
Turk Wendell: I'll never forget that day. Literally, because I have something of a photographic memory. The lineup as I recall was:
Rickey Henderson (LF)
Edgardo Alfonzo (2B)
John 'Ol Helmet' Olerud (1B)
Mike Piazza (C)
Robin Ventura (3B)
Brian McRae (CF)
Roger Cedeno (RF)
Rey Ordonez (SS)
Rick Reed (P)
The umpires, as I recall them, were Randy Marsh at home plate, Marvin Hudson at first, Angel Hernandez at second, and Larry Vanover and third. The game went 14 innings and we won 4-3. Rey Ordonez hit the walk-off single, scoring Luis Lopez. When it was all said and done, it lasted four hours and 35 minutes. But it wasn't so bad because the weather was nice, 72 degrees and no precip. A cursory look at baseball-reference.com confirms all of this.
Even if I didn't clearly have a photographic memory, I'd still never forget it because Bobby wore that crazy disguise after he got tossed. I tried offering him my necklace made from the teeth of the saber tooth tigers I killed throughout my life—so people might think he was me—but he said he had something better. Still think the necklace would've worked better.
Robin Ventura: I'm not fucking talking about Nolan Ryan. [We try to explain this is not about Nolan Ryan]. Interview over.
John Olerud: I don't remember what started it, but I remember Bobby getting the boot, sure. He was really angry and stormed down into the clubhouse. Then after a few minutes, the guys were talking about some weird looking dude who kept on talking about how Bobby Valentine invented the wrap sandwich. You know those things? It's like a burrito, but cold, and less flavorful. This guy was just going on and on about how Bobby V. didn't have to sit there and take this guff—he didn't say guff—from some stupid umpire and how he was famous in Connecticut for inventing the sandwich wrap. It was wild.
Rey Ordonez: Like everyone else, this night is burned in my memory. It got heated in the 12th inning, of course, but things were simmering well before that. It all started when Morpheus asked me if I wanted to take the red pill, or the blue pill. See, I sort of had a double-life going on at that point as a computer hacker, and something just didn't seem right to me. About the world in general. Long story short, this guy Morpheus shows up and tells me I have a choice between the painful and hard truth of reality, and the calming bliss of ignorance. Red and blue, you see?
Annnnyway, I took the red pill and got sucked into something called the Matrix and my worst fears were confirmed. Baseball didn't exist, we didn't exist, we were just hooked up to these pods and used to power all these weirdo alien robots or something. I spent the whole night learning kung fu and shooting crazy-ass guns and basically figuring out how to stop time. Because time didn't really exist. This [motioning around] didn't exist.
That all happened that night, not long after the disguise thing. Everything's fine now, though.
Roger Cedeno: I have never been more bugged out in my life.
Brian McRae: Haha, oh man. The disguise. It was actually my idea. No bullshit. When I first suggested it, it wasn't about getting Bobby back in the dugout, though. There were a lot of rumors swirling about me getting traded at the time, so I asked Bobby to do some snooping for me with the front office. He felt a little uneasy about that, and neither of us really wanted anyone to know we were on a recon mission, so I told him to get a disguise. We stole Wendell's shades, and I swiped some eyeblack and voila a totally unrecognizable person. What am I up to these days? I work in advertising for State Farm.
Rick Reed: 16 years, huh? That was a pretty funny night. Bobby Valentine wore a terrible disguise and got fined five grand I think? Pretty sure he got suspended, too. What a weirdo.
*No, we didn't.