Not only have Gary Cohen and Howie Rose etched their lasting legacy on the New York Mets’ organization without ever putting on a uniform or picking up a baseball, but now they can say they are Hall of Famers.
Cohen, the long-time play-by-play man for the team’s television network SNY, and Rose, the famed radio voice, joined former players Howard Johnson and Al Leiter as members of the organization’s Hall of Fame class of 2023. It’s the latest and greatest honor of two broadcasters that have had the Mets engrained into their souls from the very beginning.
“Well, it’s rather flabbergasting I have to say,” Cohen said on Thursday. “I think back to spending hundreds of nights sitting in the upper deck at Shea Stadium. I think about [original Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy] under my pillow for West Coast night games. The Mets have been an enormous part of my life. I’ve been a Mets fan from the time I was six years old.”
Naturally, the enormity of working with different factions of the team’s broadcasts wasn’t lost on the 64-year-old, who spent 15 years in the radio booth next to the legendary Murphy before making the move to television where he’s become a cult hero alongside former-players-turned-analysts Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling in the SNY booth.
“It’s so otherworldly and so surreal to me,” Cohen continued. “It kind of takes me back to sitting in the booth with Bob Murphy for 15 years and thinking, ‘Wait a second. I’m a six-year-old kid listening to the Bob Murphy under my pillow and now I’m next to him working with him in the booth. It’s that kind of feeling. It’s like I can’t even believe this has happened.”
Cohen and Rose briefly worked together on their way to trading places. Rose had been the play-by-play voice on television for the team from 1996-2003 before joining Cohen in the radio booth for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
“I’ll tell you that those two years I smiled probably more than I have my entire life because we have the ability to finish each other’s sentences,” Cohen said. “Our experiences are so similar and I would not trade those two years for anything. I feel such an incredible kinship with Howie. We didn’t know each other growing up, but we had similar experiences growing up in terms of our connection to the Mets.”
Rose had attended games from the very beginning — his first-ever game coming in July of 1962 at the Polo Grounds against the St. Louis Cardinals which was the very same day Gil Hodges hit his final career home run. Seven years later, the 1969 Miracle Mets cemented the franchise’s place in the Queens native’s soul forever.
Rising through the organizational ranks from a pre-and-postgame host in 1987, Rose has been the main voice of the team’s radio booth for the last 18 seasons where his iconic cry of “Put it in the books!” accompanies the final out of every victory.
“I get paid to speak for a living and it’s very hard for me to fully articulate my feelings here,” Rose said. “I know that whenever I ruminate about anything to do with Mets games in specific moments that have been shown to the team’s history that I’ve been fortunate enough to broadcast, I’ve got this default mechanism that I have in my system that immediately takes me back to 1969 to that 15-year-old kid who sat in the upper deck countless times that year.
“I saw that season unfold and really thought I was living a fairy tale. And those guys… changed my life. I would not be doing what I’m doing nor certainly, would I be on this call today if not for the 1969 Mets.”
In turn, there are countless fans whose passion for the team would be dimmed for the team if not for Cohen or Rose.
“We have been representatives of the millions of people who care deeply about the Mets and have followed them over their 60-odd years,” Cohen said. “We’re fans who got lucky and got a chance to bring our favorite team home to people.
“I am so so pleased that we get to be in this class of a Hall of Fame together because it wouldn’t have felt right any other way.”