Willie Randolph went to Omar Minaya’s hotel room thinking he had to save Rick Peterson’s job.
Instead, he was walking in to collect his own pink slip.
The Mets had just won for the third time in four games on June 18, 2008 in Los Angeles when they fired Randolph in bizarre fashion — shortly before 3 a.m. in New York.
“So I got back to the clubhouse and one of the guys came in and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing after the game tonight?’” Randolph recounted this week on The Post’s “Pinstripe Pod” Yankees podcast. “I said, ‘Well, going back to my room and have a beer and relax.’ He said, ‘Go by Omar’s room.’ I said, ‘Uh oh.’ And I’m thinking at the time, because it was [pitching coach] Rick Peterson was on the chopping block for a while there too, so I thought maybe, I was thinking to myself, ‘I gotta save Rick. I got a funny feeling there gonna whack Rick here.’ So I said let me see if I can talk someone out of it.
“Little did I know, I was the one who was being whacked,” Randolph said with a laugh.
Randolph was in his fourth season as manager of the Mets, who had climbed to 34-35 at the time he was fired, along with Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto. In 2006, they had reached Game 7 of the NLCS, but suffered a huge collapse a year later, blowing a seven-game lead atop the NL East with 17 games left.
The former Yankee said he believes the decision to fire him in 2008 must have been made before the Mets took their trip to Los Angeles, but said he had received assurances from Minaya, then the general manager. The Mets won two of three games against the Angels in that series, including the night Randolph was fired.
“I’ve asked Omar, I said, ‘Omar, I’m a big boy, I grew up in New York. Listen, if you’re gonna let me go, I see the blood in the water, if you’re gonna let me go, let me go,’” Randolph said. “He said that day, ‘Everything’s fine, we’re going to keep going.’ We went out there and that’s what happened.”
The Mets went on to Colorado with Jerry Manuel as their new manager while Randolph and Peterson were left picking up the pieces.
“Rick Peterson and I came back on that flight,” Randolph said with a laugh, “and we had a martini or two.”
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