St. Louis Cardinals speedster Vince Coleman signed with the Mets after the 1990 season via free agency, signing a four-year, $11.95 million contract.
However, his career took a quick downward spiral. Coleman missed 215 games (out of a possible 486) due to numerous injuries and suspensions. Apparently the Cardinals knew something not resigned Coleman.
Coleman was one of three Met players named in a complaint filed by a 31-year-old woman in Florida, although prosecutors did not pursue charges in the case. His base-stealing strategy became increasingly suspect; he often ignored or misinterpreted his coaches’ signs on the basepaths.
He was also very difficult to get along with. He got into an ugly argument with coach Mike Cubbage at the tail end of his first season which was a factor in manager Bud Harrelson’s ouster.
Coleman who lead the National League in stolen bases the previous six seasons finished the 1991 season with only 37 steals, while batting .255 in 72 games.
In September 1992, he got into a fight with Harrelson’s successor, Jeff Torborg, and was suspended without pay for the rest of the season. Coleman was the poster child of “The Worst Team Money Could Buy”.
The Mets seemingly had enough of Coleman and tried to trade him during 1992-93 off-season, but there were no takers.
In April 1993, Coleman injured Dwight Gooden’s arm by recklessly swinging a golf club in the clubhouse.
In July Coleman was charged with endangerment when he threw a lit firecracker into a crowd of baseball fans waiting for autographs in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
The explosion injured three children, including a two-year-old, Amanda Santos. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for the incident.
The Mets placed him on paid administrative leave—in effect, a suspension with pay.
On August 26, the Mets announced that as part of a general housecleaning of the clubhouse, Coleman would not return in 1994.
Manager Dallas Green said that while Coleman had played well (when he suited up), he didn’t think Coleman had the “head and heart and belly” he wanted to see on the team.
On January 5, 1994, the Mets traded Coleman with cash to the Kansas City Royals for Kevin McReynolds.
Vince Coleman’s immature and semiskilled career as a Met.