In September 2018, New York Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz announced he was leaving that position after 39 seasons. He made it clear he was not retiring but rather would be devoting his energy to the area of alumni relations which had long been an organization weak spot.
Horwitz made it clear he took his new mission very seriously as every weekend that the Mets were playing at Citi Field in 2019 there were Mets players from past years to greet fans and talk with the media about what they have been up to since leaving baseball.
This past week the team announced that there would be a Mets Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place on May 17, 2020, with former third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo and pitchers Jon Matlack, Ron Darling, and the late Al Jackson being honored. This will be the first such ceremony since catcher Mike Piazza was honored in 2013.
The induction of Al Jackson, who passed away this past summer, has long been overdue, and it’s a shame it didn’t take place when he was alive. Jackson was an original Met who lost 20 games in both 1962 and 1965. There’s an old counterintuitive saying in baseball that you have to be a really good pitcher to lose 20 games because it shows that your manager has faith in your abilities. Jackson also served as a longtime pitching coach in the Mets organization.
Jon Matlack pitched for the Mets from 1972 through 1978 and has kind of been overlooked when top Mets pitchers in their history are being recalled even though he was a Rookie of the year winner. Although he was a very effective pitcher, Mets hitters frequently went AWOL when he was on the mound and thus, he didn’t achieve the stellar win-loss record he deserved. Jacob deGrom can certainly relate. He also was in a rotation that featured Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and few hurlers can compare to either one.
Ron Darling was a good though far from the great pitcher for the Mets during his 1983-1991 tenure. The fact that he won 99 games and couldn’t get to 100 kinds of sums things up. He would have been a true Mets hero had he pitched well in Games 7 of the 1986 World Series and 1988 National League Championship Series but he got bombed in both. Nonetheless, he has long been a beloved team announcer and merits this honor.
Third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo was a terrific hitter and always seemed to come through in clutch situations during his Mets career, which spanned from 1995 to 2002. He was strangely fired as the manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones after leading them a NY-Penn League title last season. This might be the Mets form of an apology.
Curtis Granderson, one of the most beloved baseball players of all-time, announced his retirement from the majors after 16 seasons on Friday. I spoke with him at Citi Field the final week of the 2019 season, and he told me that he wanted to play in 2020 but that it would be up to the 30 general managers of Major League Baseball teams.
After batting .183 last season in a limited role with the Miami Marlins, it was clear that no team would offer him a guaranteed. Contract. A few teams did probably reach out and offer him a non-roster invite where he wouldn’t get paid unless he made the team out of spring training.
Grandy is a sharp guy who could see the handwriting on the wall. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in business administration and won’t have any trouble occupying his time. I can see him becoming a baseball executive very soon.
Considering he hasn’t played on a Super Bowl winner of at least been a Pro Bowl player for either the Jets or Giants, it was somewhat surprising that “Saturday Night Live” and NBC officials chose Houston Texans defensive end, JJ Watt, to host last Saturday’s show.
Watt was an excellent choice as he showed terrific comedic timing. He did a nice sendup of those ubiquitous Nugenix commercials and admitted in the opening dialog he’s have greatly preferred to be playing the next day’s Super Bowl than be hosting “SNL.” Watt should have little trouble following in the footsteps of former NFL stars who became actors as Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Fred Dryer, Bernie Casey, and Joe Namath.
Another former NFL star who has dabbled in acting is Terry Bradshaw, who is currently part of the Fox Sports NFL studio team. Cable’s E! network has signed Bradshaw and his family to star in a new reality series smartly titled “The Bradshaw Bunch.” It’s scheduled to debut this summer.
The tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others on board that ill-fated helicopter cast a pall over the usually over-hyped Super Bowl week. There was little reporting on celebrities attending splashy parties in Miami, nor was there the usual minutiae such as a quote from a player that gets blown out of proportion.
A couple of media giants whose names were very familiar to baby boomers passed away last week.
Radio personality Harry Harrison woke up this town for 35 years (1968-2003) on WMCA, WABC, and WCBS-FM was rightfully known as New York’s morning mayor. I used to love how his staccato baritone would blurt out “Coffee!” “Morning!” “Traffic!” “Weather with Mr. G!” with indefatigable cheerfulness. Harrison’s passing, along with the recent death of fellow morning man Don Imus, punctuates the fact that there are few memorable personalities left in radio today.
Back when television was a three-network world, Rego Park native Fred Silverman was the industry’s best-known executive as he was the chief programmer at one time or another for ABC, NBC, and CBS. He even made the cover of TIME Magazine during 1977.
He was responsible for putting Queens’ most famous fictional family of the 1970s, the Bunkers, on the air with “All In The Family” in 1971. Yes, he had his share of stinkers as well, such as “Pink Lady & Jeff,” “Hello, Larry,” and “Supertrain,” an expensive flop that nearly sent NBC into insolvency.
Silverman, an alumnus of PS 139 and Forest Hills High School, succumbed to cancer at age 82 last Thursday in Los Angeles.