Howie Rose is approaching three decades in the broadcast booth for the team, first on TV and for the last 18 seasons as the Mets’ primary radio voice, most recently on WCBS-880.
And on June 3 at Citi Field, Rose will be among the inductees into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Former players Howard Johnson and Al Leiter and longtime TV and radio voice Gary Cohen will be inducted alongside the 69-year-old Rose, a Queens native who grew up rooting for the team.
Post Sports+ caught up with Rose this week (stay tuned for more from the Mets’ newest Hall of Famers, coming online Saturday and in Sunday’s paper):
You’ve served as the emcee for this Hall of Fame ceremony many times, so what will it be like to sit on the other side of the microphone for the event?
Howie Rose: The whole thing is surreal for me, and the closer we get to it and the more people reach out and discuss it and gauge my attitude toward it, the more introspective I get and the more I think back to being that 15-year-old kid sitting in the upper deck at Shea Stadium in 1969, watching the greatest thing I still have ever seen in sports unfold. …
The thing that really humbles me is that ’69 team just meant so much to me for so many reasons. They really shaped my life, and several of the players have become friends of mine over the years, a couple of whom are going to be there for the ceremony.
To have come full circle in that regard is beyond my ability to comprehend.
You have such a long relationship with Gary Cohen. What does it mean to go into the Mets Hall of Fame alongside him?
HR: It’s cool. It’s the same, I’m sure, as it was for Lindsey [Nelson], Bob [Murphy] and Ralph [Kiner] when they went in together. They were together for 17 years, and now Gary, Keith [Hernandez] and Ron [Darling] are on their 18th year together.
I get this all the time, and Gary must hear it at least as much: People will say to me, ‘You are to the current generation what Lindsey, Bob and Ralph were to yours.’ When somebody says that to me, it just knocks me over, because I know what Lindsey, Bob and Ralph were to me. They were like family in an avuncular way. It was what they represented. Their voices to me represented happy times around the Mets, and if people get that same kind of reaction hearing my voice or Gary’s then it makes me prouder than I can even describe.
For both of us that grew up sitting in the upper deck at Shea Stadium, we have a lot of that same background and the same sensibilities and same mindset that even the contemporary Mets fans have, so it makes us kindred spirits in more ways than one.
After surviving bladder cancer, has your perspective on the job changed?
HR: The fortunate thing for me was from the beginning of that ordeal, the doctors were as reassuring as could be that I could get through this OK. …
I never wavered in my expectation that when I had the surgery in September of ’21 that I would be ready to go in the next spring training, and we’ve gone from there.
You seem to savor the mentorship role you have for the two young broadcasters, Keith Raad and Patrick McCarthy, who were hired last offseason to fill out the radio booth. How enjoyable has that teaching aspect become for you?
HR: I love it almost as much as anything else I’ve done. Marv Albert taught me a long time ago that when you’re in the business for a while, you have an obligation to pay it forward.
I loved working with Wayne [Randazzo] and watching him develop. I don’t know that he needed my help to get where he is now [as the TV voice of the Angels], but if I was able to assist him in some way that enhanced his development, I’m proud of that.
I remember when I transitioned from radio to television when I went to the Islanders in 1995, SportsChannel had the great Marty Glickman on staff as a coach for broadcasters who, in my case, were delving deeper into a different medium than I had been accustomed to. I so enjoyed working with him, and he was so helpful. … Having gone through that process, I know how much it meant to me, and now with the young guys, seeing the fascination in their eyes of being in a big league broadcast booth every night for the first time in their careers, it takes me back to when I was in their position.
But they don’t sound like they’re in awe on the air, and when it comes to a suggestion or constructive criticism, they’re so receptive. At some point, whenever I’m done in the booth, I would love to create some kind of scenario where I have the opportunity to mentor young broadcasters because I just love bringing them along.
You indicated a year or two ago that if the Mets win the World Series in the near future, you might retire. Is that still the case?
HR: I’m really holding out for that one last call. That is the only thing I need to complete my career, in a very selfish way.
I’ve had the opportunity to make some calls that have endured and resonated, but none of them would compare to the chance to proclaim the Mets are the world champions, in real time, on the air. That is what I want more than anything. I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s all I’m hanging on for, but that’s a big part of it. I will be 70 in February. … I don’t know how much longer I’m going to go, but I think I have a little more in me yet.
It’s not like if they win the World Series I’m done. What. am I going to retire and then miss all the splendor of Opening Day next year and raising the banner and giving out the World Series rings? If they win the World Series, it’s that year and at least one more.
I would love to do the games representing the defending world champions rather than the aspiring world champions.
Want to catch a game? The Mets schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.
Calling foul on big backswings
Francisco Alvarez has been among the Mets’ best players this season, but he’s also taking a beating behind the plate, as noted this week by manager Buck Showalter.
The rookie catcher, by Showalter’s count, has gotten hit by at least five backswings, part of a larger trend throughout the game. Most notably, Dodgers catcher Will Smith aired his displeasure to Marcell Ozuna after the Braves DH clipped him with a backswing earlier this week.
“Sometimes I think there should be a penalty for that, as much as it’s happening,” Showalter said. “The catcher is in the catcher’s box and the batter is in the batter’s box, and some of the same people seem to be doing it … it’s called catcher’s interference when the catcher does it, so why isn’t there batter’s interference?”
Showalter said catching instructor Glenn Sherlock presents him with a scouting report before each series of opposing batters whose backswings have become an issue for catchers.
“[Catchers] used to not even wear a helmet — could you imagine?” Showalter said. “There were a couple of backswings that I was worried whether [Alvarez] was going to be able to continue.”
Ronny with an ‘E’
One number that team officials haven’t overlooked in evaluating Ronny Mauricio is the infielder’s 11 errors this season for Triple-A Syracuse.
But at some point, the Mets will have to decide whether Mauricio’s potential upside offensively outweighs his defensive shortcomings.
Mauricio has moved from shortstop to second base, and has committed six errors in 24 games at second base after committing five in 20 games at short.
Mauricio also is batting .348 with a .586 slugging percentage — numbers that resonates louder than his errors total.