It's Outta Here! This Saturday, June 3, Ridgefield resident Gary Cohen, the legendary, play-by-play voice on the NY Mets on SNY will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, an exclusive club that has only inducted 30 people over the team’s 42-year history.
Cohen began calling Mets games on the radio in 1989 and is currently the second-longest tenured Mets play-by-play announcer in team history, according to SNY. With his current popularity, Cohen just might go down in history as the longest.
As one of the celebrities who make Ridgefield special, we wanted to get to know more about Gary Cohen’s local life. What is his favorite restaurant? How about a memorable community experience? We also talk with Cohen about the journey that has led him to this monumental moment in time - the Mets Hall of Fame.
Q: What was your “pinch me” moment
A: When I got the job with the Mets. I was job sitting next to Bob Murphy who I grew up listening to under my pillow. I would end up spending 15 years working with him. I pinch myself just about every day.
Q: Who is on your Mount Rushmore of sports broadcasters dead or alive - Keith and Ron are excluded.
A: That’s a really good question. Marv Albert is my number one guy. I’d probably put Bob Murphy on there too.
Q: Any younger sportscaster standouts? Do you have a favorite?
A: I have great admiration for a lot of younger sportscasters. Jason Benetti with the White Sox is the best young broadcaster that I've heard. He's already a superstar but he's going to be one of the best of all time. There are a lot of young guys who I really admire a lot - Adam Amin, Joe Davis, and Wayne Randazzo. Keith Raad, a new radio broadcaster with Howie Rose on Mets radio, is going to be fantastic.
Q: Was there ever a moment early in your career when you doubted you’d make it as a broadcaster in the major leagues?
A: Oh, of course. I spent three full seasons doing minor league baseball and at every point along the way, I was skeptical about my chances. But, even before that, I spent five years out of college on the radio doing sports reports, news reports, traffic reports, and fishing and boating shows, even DJing! I was basically a jack of all trades. I had no idea at that point, that my future was even in baseball. It wasn't until five years out of college, in 1986, that I got my first minor league full-time opportunity. By the middle of 1988, my last year in the minor league, I had mentally decided that that was going to be it - I was going to make it to the major leagues after that season, or I was going to go to law school. Fortunately, the call came that winter. So yes, I questioned many times if this was ever going to be my future.
Q: Any advice to aspiring media personalities?
A: Well, I think it depends on what your goals are and what path you're on. I took a very narrow path. Doing play-by-play is not a broad-based craft. There are only a finite number of jobs in major league sports for play-by-play announcers. It wasn't as though I could take those skills and apply them to something else. I was gonna have to abandon it altogether. People with more broad-based skills might have a different attitude about it.
But I think the bottom line is that if you're passionate about something, then you need to follow your passion as far as it takes you and you have to use your best judgment as to what enough is enough.
Q: How do you prepare for games?
A: Baseball games are our three-hour games with about eight minutes of action. So it leaves enormous chunks of time to talk about things involved in the game things peripheral to the game and things completely tangential to the game. And baseball changes every day. So on any given day, I might be talking about something that happened yesterday or something I saw last week or last month or five years ago or something that I read about that happened 100 years ago. And the baseball season is relentless. It's every day basically for six months.
So the best way I can answer your question is that every day, I spend virtually every waking hour trying to know as much as I can about what is happening in the game. And what happened in the last 24 hours to expand that base of knowledge so that anything that comes up over the course of those three hours during the game, I have something intelligent to say.
Q: Let’s talk Ridgefield. What do you love about your hometown?
A: I love the quiet. I love my family and my dogs. I just love how you get away from it all of Ridgefield.
Q: Do you have a favorite local experience?
I'm usually not free in the summer but last year I ran the Margarita 5k sponsored by Southwest Cafe. That was cool! I run 5k races from time to time in various places and that was the first one I had ever run in Ridgefield. It was nice to have that experience with a lot of people that I see around town.
Lightning round questions
Who is your favorite ballplayer? (again Keith and Ron excluded)
One thing very few people know about you
I cook a mean pork chop
Favorite place to dine in Ridgefield
You can congratulate our hometown hero by purchasing a Gary Cohen Hall of Fame Tee! Click here to purchase.
Gary Cohen will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame prior to the 4:10 p.m. game vs. the Blue Jays at Citi Field this Saturday, June 3 when the Mets take on the Blue Jays.
For tickets to the game and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, fans can go to Mets.com/tickets.