Typical of the shortstops of his era, Bud Harrelson was diminutive player with a strong glove and weak bat who anchored the Mets infield for 13 seasons.
Harrelson made his Major League debut on September 2, 1965 as pinch runner in the Mets 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros. He appeared in 19 games and hit just .108 (4 for 37). He recorded his first league hit on September 19, a first inning single against the Chicago Cubs
He started the 1966 season in the minors before joining the Mets in August. He appeared in 33 games and batted .222 with 4 RBIs.
1967 would be Harrelson’s first full season in the majors as the Mets everyday shortstop, a role he would remain in for the next decade. He initially struggled as the everyday shortstop committing 21 errors over the first two months. He settled down and committed just 11 over the next four months. He hit .254 with a home run and 28 RBIs. His first career home run came on August 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was an inside the park job that tied the score in the 8th inning in a game the Mets would win 6-5.
Injuries and a military obligation limited Harrelson to 111 games in 1968. He hit just .219 with 14 RBIs. He did finish with a .972 fielding percentage, the 3rd highest in the league.
During the Mets World Championship season in 1969, he solidified the Mets infield, taking away would be hits and turning double plays. He hit .248 with 24 RBIs. He was the offensive hero in the Mets 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 15. He went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. He also drove in the winning run with a walk-off single in the 10th inning on May 28. On September 23 he once again hit a walk off single to win the game, this time in the 11th inning against future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.
During the postseason he hit .182 with 3 RBIs in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. In the World Series he hit .176 with 2 RBIs against the Baltimore Orioles but his stellar defense played a huge role as the Mets went on to shock the world and win their first championship.
Harrelson got off to a fast start in 1970. He started off with a 6-game hitting streak and hit safely in 30 of his first 35 games. During that stretch he hit his second career home run and the first that actually cleared the fence, a solo shot in the Mets 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 17. He earned his first All-Star game selection and had a 54-game errorless streak from June until August. For the season he hit .243 with a career best 42 RBIs.
In 1971 he earned his 2nd All-Star game selection, this time as the starting shortstop, and won his 1st and only Gold Glove Award. He had a 10-game hitting streak in April and a 12-game streak in May. On May 15 he went 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs in the Mets 9-5 win over the Pirates. He had another 4-hit performance on August 5 against the Atlanta Braves, he drove in the only run as the Mets lost 2-1. He finished with a .252 average and 32 RBIs.
Injuries limited Harrelson to 115 games in 1972, he hit .215 with a home run and 24 RBIs. He did lead the team in stolen bases with 12 and on base percentage with .313.
Injuries once again limited Harrelson in 1973, he appeared in just 106 games. He was hitting .268 on June 4 when he was lost for a month with a fractured hand. During the month of September, he hit safely in 22 of 27 games and batted .280 as he helped the Mets win the Eastern Division Title. He finished the season with a career best .258 average with 20 RBIs.
During the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds he hit just .167 (3 for 18) with 2 RBIs as the Mets won the series in 5 games. But he is most remembered for his actions in game 3. With the Mets leading 9-2 in the 5th inning and on the verge of taking a 2-1 series lead a frustrated Pete Rose slid hard into Harrelson with what some consider a cheap slide trying to break up a double play. Harrelson got up into Rose’s face and the next thing all hell broke loose as the two players got in a fight which eventually led to both benches being emptied. When order was restored neither player was ejected but Met fans began got throw objects at Rose when he took his position in leftfield. The game had to be halted and the Mets were told by the league office that they would have to forfeit if order was not restored. Many Met players pleaded with the fans who eventually relented, and the Mets went on to win the game and the series.
The Mets lost the 1973 World Series in 7 games to the Oakland A’s with Harrelson hitting .250 with an RBI.
Harrelson got off to a fast start in 1974 recording three hits on Opening Day and hitting safely in 13 of his first 20 games. He was hitting .279 at the end of April but injuries once again took their toll and he hit just .227 for the season with a home run and 13 RBIs. He missed a majority of the 1975 season with a knee injury, appearing in only 34 games and batting just .219 with 2 home runs.
He rebounded slightly in 1976, hitting .234 in 118 games with a home run and 26 RBIs. He struggled for the entire 1977 season and hit just .178 for the season and following the season the Mets decided to part ways with Harrelson by trading him to the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 13 seasons and 1,322 game Harrelson batted .234 with 6 home runs and 242 RBIs.
Following his playing career Harrelson would go on to become a coach for the Mets in 1982 and 1985-1990. He also managed the Mets in 1990 and 1991.
In 1986 he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
While with the Mets Harrelson wore number 3.
Bud Harrelson also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1978,1979
Texas Rangers – 1980