Buddy Harrelson, who played for the Mets from 1965-77, was a coach on their 1986 World Series winning team, and who managed the club from 1990-1991, has Alzheimer's disease.
The 73-year-old Harrelson's diagnosis was given after a few instances where he became disoriented. It is being met head-on by Harrelson, his children, and his ex-wife, Kim, writes Bob Klapisch in the New York Post.
Harrelson, who remains close with former teammate Tom Seaver, has a case that is "still considered mild to moderate."
"It's not that Buddy can't converse," writes Klapisch. "It's just that the back-and-forth, even with friends, evaporates after a sentence or two. When he speaks, the words are halting and unsure."
Harrelson, who is a member of the Mets Hall of Fame, was the starting shortstop for the 1969 Miracle Mets and the 1973 Ya Gotta Believe squad that won the National League pennant. During the 1973 NLCS, he famously took on Pete Rose in a fist fight.
Among those who are aware of Harrelson's diagnosis is former Met and current SNY analyst Ron Darling, who plans to go visit Harrelson before leaving for Spring Training.
"I've heard about what's going on with Buddy," Darling told Klapisch. "All I can tell you is that it was easy to see why the '69 guys loved him. He was great on defense and he was tough.
"As a coach, Buddy was the one who taught me how to bunt. He was the one who taught me how to field my position. And as a manager, he was tougher than you'd think. You could go to a certain point with Buddy, but you didn't [mess] with him all the way. You knew not to push him."
Michelle Ioannou, MetsBlog | Twitter | There is no other way to put it than continuing to say what bad news this is. Buddy Harrelson is such a great guy -- he was great on the field and he's just as great off the field.
A few years ago, my brother Christopher had the fortunate experience of meeting with Harrelson when his high school, Henry Viscardi, held their annual sports night. Harrelson not only sat with my brother and chatted with him about school, life, and of course their beloved New York Mets, but he let Christopher wear his 1986 World Series ring.
You can only imagine what this genuine act of kindness did to my brother. To this day, he still shows the picture of it and jokes about how he hasn't seen a Mets World Series win yet in his lifetime, but he got to wear the World Series ring of a Mets great.
My prayers are with Harrelson and his family as they tackle this together. It's been wonderful seeing the outpouring of support both from fans, and from fellow Mets players. We're all rooting for you, Buddy.