Former Mets catcher John Stearns died Thursday night after a long battle with cancer at age 71.
Stearns played 10 seasons with the Mets between 1975-84, earning four All-Star selections. He also served on the Mets’ coaching staff in 2000 and 2001.
Despite his illness, Stearns attended the Aug. 28 Old Timers’ Day at Citi Field.
“No one played the game with more spirit or determination than John Stearns,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a release. “He literally willed himself to attend Old Timers’ Day last month so he could visit friends and old teammates. Despite his illness, he even managed to step into the batting cage to take a few swings.
“His nickname, ‘Bad Dude’ couldn’t have been more appropriate. A four-time All Star, John was one of the most complete catchers in Mets history. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”
Stearns was a first-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1973 MLB Draft, and the Mets acquired Stearns in a trade featuring Tug McGraw.
During his career, Stearns caught the likes of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlock, among others.
“I’m so glad we had a chance to talk at Citi Field a few weeks ago,” said teammate and manager Joe Torre. “No one played the game harder than John. He never came to the park in a bad mood. All he wanted to do was win. To be a four-time All-Star is something special.”
Added former teammate Lee Mazzilli: “I am heartbroken. John was just a joy to be around. He loved the game so much. I was amazed when he went to the batting cage on Old Timers’ Day. That just showed you how much of a competitor he was.”
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: John Stearns, former NY Mets All-Star catcher, dead at 71