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  • Writer's picture John Bacchia

Phil Pepe and Bud Harrelson

Updated: Feb 19


Two NY Baseball Legends: Remembering Bud Harrelson and Phil Pepe


The New York sports scene will forever remember these two lost two baseball giants:  Bud Harrelson, the fiery infielder and coach, and Phil Pepe, the legendary sportswriter who captured Harrelson's story in "Turning Two." Harrelson wasn't your typical baseball star. Undersized and scrappy, he embodied the blue-collar spirit of the early Mets. Nicknamed "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" for his acrobatic defense, he turned double plays with the grace of a ballet dancer and the tenacity of a bulldog. He was a vocal leader, a clubhouse glue guy, and a player who bled orange and blue.

Pepe, meanwhile, was the chronicler of those moments. A veteran sportswriter with an ear for the locker room and a knack for storytelling, he brought Harrelson's unique voice and perspective to life in "Turning Two." Their collaboration resulted in a book that wasn't just a dry recount of statistics and scores, but a raw, unfiltered look at the highs and lows of a life dedicated to baseball and the Mets.

Together, Harrelson and Pepe represent different sides of the same coin. Harrelson, was the player who gave his all on the field, leaving everything out there every game. Pepe, was the storyteller who immortalized those moments on the page, ensuring they resonated with fans for generations.

While both are gone, their impact on the Mets, and New York baseball as a whole, is undeniable. Harrelson's hustle and heart, his fiery intensity and unwavering loyalty remain etched in the collective memory of Mets fans. Pepe's words continue to bring Harrelson's story to life, offering a window into a bygone era and the unique culture of the Amazin' Mets.

The next time you're at Citi Field, amidst the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat, take a moment to remember these two legends. For their contributions, both on and off the field, they earned their place among the immortals of New York baseball. The spirit of "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" and the pen of the storyteller might be gone, but their impact on the Mets and the city they called home will forever endure.

Rest in peace, Bud Harrelson and Phil Pepe. You will be missed.


Turning Two: A Mets Memoir with Heart, Hustle, and Harrelson

Strap on your cleats, Mets fans, because we're taking a trip down memory lane with Bud Harrelson's autobiography, "Turning Two: My Journey to the Top of the World and Back with the New York Mets." Written alongside Phil Pepe, this book is more than just baseball stats and game recaps. It's a gritty, heartfelt memoir that captures the spirit of a man who embodied the scrappy, blue-collar heart of the Amazin' Mets.

Harrelson wasn't your typical baseball superstar. Listed at a generous 5'10" and 147 pounds soaking wet, he wasn't built like a tank, but he played with the fire of a dragon. Nicknamed "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" for his acrobatic fielding, Harrelson was a defensive wizard, turning double plays like a magician pulling rabbits from hats. But his impact went beyond the highlight reel. He was a clubhouse leader, a vocal presence on the field, and a guy who bled orange and blue.

The book takes us through Harrelson's journey, from his early days in California to his big league debut with the expansion Mets in 1965. We relive the rollercoaster ride of those early years, the joy of the "Miracle Mets" 1969 World Series win, the sting of injuries and trades, and the triumphant return as third base coach for the 1986 championship team.

There's no sugarcoating here. Harrelson throws shade at some former teammates and management, offering his unfiltered opinions on the good, the bad, and the ugly of professional baseball. But his honesty is refreshing, and his passion for the game shines through every page.

"Turning Two" isn't just for die-hard Mets fans. It's for anyone who appreciates an underdog story, a guy who defied expectations, and a game played with heart. It's a reminder that sometimes, the most memorable moments aren't the home runs or the awards, but the hustle, the grit, and the sheer love of the game. So, grab a hot dog, crack open a cold one, and settle in for a wild ride with Bud Harrelson. You might just find yourself cheering for the little guy a little louder after turning the last page.

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