The 1986 Mets Houston arrest story will make a little different impression upon you if you also know a little more about the man who was travel secretary for the club back in 1986.
The late Arthur Richman. a former New York writer, Yankee executive, and, earlier, travel secretary for the New York Mets during our heartbreaking 1986 Astros season, was quite a guy. He and his brother Milton Richman, a former Ford C. Frick Award winner, had grown up as Bronx street urchins back in the 1930’s who lived and breathed playing street ball and seeking the attention of big leaguers before and after games at Yankee Stadium. And that’s how they became Browns fans of players like 3rd baseman Harland Clift and, later, catcher Frank Mancuso of Houston.
I was fortunate to have met and become friends of Art Richman through our mutual membership in the St. Louis Browns club. His answer to how he and Milton became Browns always rolled easily off the tongue in that “Guys and Dolls” way of speaking that most Texans recognize as “you’re not from here, are you?”
“The Browns were an easy pick for Milton and me,” Arthur would say. “The Yankees walked right past us. The Browns stopped to shake hands, sign autographs, and talk with us on the way from the subway to the stadium. Sometimes they even bought us a meal from some street place, if they saw that we were hungry. It was an easy choice.”
“By the time that Milton was off in the service during WWII, and I was a teenager, the league went bad and the Browns got good enough to win the 1944 American League pennant. So, guess what? I took off on bus and hitchhike trip to St. Louis, just hoping to catch up with some of the Browns to see if they could me in to watch the Series games there. I found Frank Mancuso at home at his apartment – and why not? – I had his address all along. Frank and the guys took me in and worked it. I was able to see the Browns play in the World Series, even though they lost to the Cardinals, 4 games to 2.”
Arthur spent his early years as a young adult working as a sportswriter for the New York Daily Mirror. It was then that he finally had a chance to hob-nob with some of the Yankees – and one of those was pitcher Don Larsen, a former Brown. Arthur enjoyed his peripheral role in setting the table for the 1956 and the only perfect game in World Series history. So what was Arthur’s claim in this regard? “I was Larsen’s drinking buddy deep into the New York night before his big game. Didn’t hurt him a bit.”
Later in life, Arthur was hired by George Steinbrenner as a vice-president of media relaions for the New York Yankees. With a slight pause for appropriate modesty of expression, Arthur also enjoyed giving himself credit in the mid-1990’s that the Yankees name Joe Torre as their new manager. – Not a bad pick, Arthur. Not a bad pick.
Over the years prior to his 2009 death in his sleep at age 84, Arthur Richman still attended our annual Browns club banquets in St. Louis. He invariably came around to telling people a familiar line: “You see this cap?” He’d ask, as he removed it from his head and pointed at it. “This is a real 1944 St. Louis Browns cap ad it’s going with me in the casket whenever it’s my time to go ‘Bye, Bye Babylon!” I’ve given my wife, Martha, clear instructions to guard it with her eyes until they’ve closed and locked my casket too. I don’t want some S.O.B. souvenir hunter snatching it away from its rightful ride with me into eternity.
One banquet year, Don Larsen also came to St. Louis and, even though I no longer drink, I went out to the hotel bar with Arthur Richman to the hotel club and bar to talk some more baseball and old times. I got more bang for my Shirley Temple buck than I ever might have hoped for in my younger drinking day. Books on baseball literally drifted away in the air of hanging out with those two guys holding court. Wish I had been smart enough to get the whole thing on tape too. By the two o’clock AM closing time, Larsen was still begging the waitress to let us stay for another round. It wasn’t to be. And I was ready check in too, but not without realizing that I had just been treated to probably my greatest night in baseball of all time.
Goodbye again, Arthur. Hope you got away with your cap OK.
One more story here leads into the inclusion below of a news report on the time in 1986 that three New York Mets pitchers and second baseman Tim Teufel for a post-Astros game bar fight they got into with Houston police. In compliance with Houston’s “hit a cop/go to jail policy” the NY boys quickly found themselves locked up downtown.
Then Mets travel secretary Richman got on the phone right away and placed a middle of the night call to his old St. Louis Browns buddy, Frank Mancuso, who by that time in life had been well established in his post-baseball career as a Houston City Council member.
“Frank,” the desperate Richman pleaded. “You gotta help me out here. I can’t wait 24 hours to get these guys out and still have enough men left to handle our needs.on the field. Frank Mancuso just listened and promised to do what he could.
Early the next morning, all four Mets players were released on bail and they were made available for immediate play. I’m not sure what happened to the charges against the men, but they somehow just went away.
Now, here’s one Associated Press treatment of the incident as it played out in real time:
FOUR METS ARRESTED (Saturday, 19, 1986, 2:00 AM)
HOUSTON (AP) - Four New York Mets – starting pitchers Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, and Rick Aguilera, and second baseman Tim Teufel were arrested early Saturday after a disturbance at a Houston disco.
Darling and Teufel were charged with aggravated assault on a policemen and Ojeda and Aguilera with hindering an arrest.
All were released on bond, each after spending the night in the Houston city jail.
The incident took place at about 2 a.m. in a disco called Cooter’s after the Mets lost to the Houston Astros 3-0 Friday night. Darling was the losing pitcher for the Mets who have a 12 game lead in the National League East.
According to Houston Police Sgt. Daniel Moorman, Teufel was creating a disturbance and was asked to leave by the club’s management.
“On his way out, he attempted to carry the beer he was drinking outside,” said Moorman.Texas law prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages outside public establishments.
Moorman said Teufel, who appeared to be intoxicated, “was released to his friends so they could take him home,” Moorman said. Instead, Teufel went outside and started another disturbance, according to the police spokesman.
When police tried to arrest him, Moorman said Teufel started hitting the arresting police officers and Darling joined in.
“Teufel and Darling actually hit the arresting officers, Moorman said. The officers, however, were not seriously hurt.
Teufel and Darling were released on $2,000 bond each about 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Ojeda ad Aguilar were released on $800 bond each.
~ Elyria (OH) Chronicle Telegram, July 20, 1986, Page 28.
Ron Darling had been the losing pitcher in the 3-0 loss by the Mets to the Astros in the Friday night game that preceded their Cooter’s bust. None of the four players got into the Saturday night game that followed their bonding out of jail. And only Tim Teufel participated in the Sunday, July 20, 1986 game that the Astros also captured for a 9-8 win and series sweep. Teufel went 2 for 2 at 2nd base in the final game of the weekend.