Green & White insiders know that the Jets’ equipment staff has a quality similar to the Steelers’ head-coaching lineage and the current British monarchy — lots of stability over the past five decades. Equipment manager Bill Hampton took the baton in the Sixties and passed it to son Clay, who passed it to Gus Granneman, who holds it today.
And the rock-steadiness filtered down to the room’s assistants, none steadier and more beloved than Mickey Rendine, a lifelong Long Islander and New Yorker who died last week at the age of 92.
"Mickey was a good friend of mine — I knew him over 40 years," said Bill Hampton from his Jacksonville home today. "He was great. He was serious at times but he could be funny as anything at other times."
Hamp recalled hiring Rendine, who also worked as the Yankees’ longtime visiting clubhouse manager and for the Mets for a while, back in the Jets’ Shea days.
"I actually met him our first year in Shea Stadium ," Hampton said. "He didn’t work for the Mets for very long, but he was away for a year and when I saw him again, I said, ‘Heck, why don’t you come work for me?’ He did and it was a great combo."
Clay, the Jets’ senior director of operations, remembered when he started hanging out at Shea and in the Jets’ small Hofstra University equipment room and how Rendine took him under his wing.
"Mickey really went out of his way to show me things, to teach me about the business all the way through," Clay recalled today. "He was really good with people. He really went out of his way to help me, and he had the Midas touch with the players. We went through some rough years and he always had a way of keeping the guys as upbeat as possible in tough times."
Bill reminisced about one of those lighthearted moments during Walt Michaels’ head-coaching regime.
"It was very cold late in the season and Walt suggested to me that I should go out and get pantyhose for the players to wear while they were practicing. Mickey actually put on a pair of the pantyhose and did his job in the locker room that way," Hampton recalled. "He made me laugh."
Rendine’s verbal calling card to the Jets players from 1968 through the 1996 season was "Remember one thing, young man, when you leave New York, you’re camping out." And to all who visited the Jets’ Hofstra locker room such as this reporter who was getting noticeably older at the time, he shortened that advice to a universal greeting: "Hello, young man."
That was hardly his only one-liner. Granneman, who began working with Rendine in 1994, said when former assistants gather to chat, their favorite Mickey lines always come up.
"One of our favorites was ‘Let me hear the music, boys!’ which meant to get the vacuum out and start the cleanup after practice," Gus said. "Everything was in baseball terms. Something small was a single and something that was really great or big was a home run — which was rare as there were a lot more triples. ‘On the express’ meant ASAP and ‘take the local’ meant we could take our time in doing it."
Rendine also was a veritable concierge, helping to steer Jets players to the best restaurants, procuring tickets to Broadway shows, and advising the rookies where to go and where not to go. Whenever he took Granneman out for a bite, Gus never paid. "You’re on scholarship," Rendine would tell him.
In the Nineties, Mickey and Marvin Jones would always talk trash. And another Marvin from that decade, Marvin Washington, sent this message up from Dallas to Newsday’s legacy.com Guest Book:
Young Man, you were one of the "good people" who even though we didn’t win as much as we all wanted to, made Fulton Ave a great place to go to. The lockerroom, dinners and long plane rides I will always remember. GOD Bless your soul Mickey Rendine!
"Mickey was a very unique person," Granneman said from the spacious Atlantic Health Jets Training Center equipment room that Rendine missed working in by a dozen years but whose influence lives on. "He will certainly be missed."
Tags: Gus Granneman
Posted in Randy Lange | 5 Comments »