Ranking the top 3 Mets broadcasting teams

Jerry Seinfeld joins Gary, Keith, and Ron
Jerry Seinfeld joins Gary, Keith, and Ron / Dimitrios Kambouris/GettyImages
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I was always captured by the New York Mets broadcasts as a kid, listening to games on the radio in my bedroom at night, and sneaking a listen in the classroom during day games, with an earpiece hidden underneath my long hair.

I learned a lot about the game of baseball from those broadcasts, and it served as a mentorship for me to be a baseball play-by-play guy for when I would do some University of Miami baseball games, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos.

What makes the Mets announcers so much better than their contemporaries is that, although you know they are happier when the Mets win, they are not full blown “homers.” They don’t refer to the team as “we” never referring to the Mets in the first person plural…but always in the third person. And while they may not be outright critical, the Mets announcers have never been the kind that have held back from stating the obvious truth that any fan would see for themselves.

Although the Mets have had their ups and downs in the standings, for the most part, they have actually had some of the best broadcasting teams in the business. Oh, there have been a few duds, mostly caused by a single person in the booth who ruined it for everyone else. But, overall, while the brand down on the field has often been brutal, the brand up in the booth has been stealth.

Before presenting what I believe to be the Top 3 broadcast teams in Mets history, let’s get something out of the way. This is about the broadcast teams, not specifically individuals. And that matters because of two guys for whom I have great respect – Tim McCarver and Howie Rose.

Tim McCarver was the quintessential color commentator and actually revolutionized that role in the booth. He was with the Mets TV team from 1983 to 1998. Unfortunately, although he was in the booth with Ralph Kiner for those years, the Mets also had a revolving door of play-by-play guys such as Steve Zabriskie, Bob Carpenter, Mike Crispino, and Fran Healy. Those guys were awful. And Tim had the unfortunate fate to be teamed with each of them in the booth. In fact, you could say that Tim’s banter helped reduce the pain of enduring those guys.

Howie Rose is, himself, an icon. Although he did some TV since 1995, he, like Bob Murphy before him, became regulated to radio when Murphy retired after the 2003 season And like Murphy, Rose has been the voice that drew the pictures for us. He is not only a long-time Mets broadcaster, but also a long-time Mets fan. You can tell that he lives and dies with the Mets. But, like McCarver, he was paired with some who were just not as good in the booth – Tom McCarthy, Wayne Hagan, Wayne Randazzo, Josh Lewin, and now Keith Raad. Gary Cohen spent a couple of seasons with Rose prior to joining the TV team, but it was not long enough to develop that bond that makes for a great listen.

No. 3 best is the NY Mets radio team of Gary Thorne and Bob Murphy from 1985 through 1988.

Bob Murphy was part of the Mets from 1962 until he retired after 2003. He did both radio and TV until 1982 when began doing strictly radio. Murphy was superb at “painting the picture,” in fact, I felt that he was so good at it that you didn’t need a TV screen to see what was going on. He had a great voice and was always upbeat even during the lean years of Mets baseball.

Gary Thorne came on to join Murphy and was just as good at describing the action for the listener. As good as Murphy had been, you wouldn’t miss a beat with Thorne at the mike. He, too, had a great voice and was not only upbeat, but was precise and told it like it was, never holding anything back. He didn’t gloss over anything.

Murphy and Thorne were, to me, what radio play-by-play is all about. If anyone wanted to learn to do baseball play-by-play, these two conducted a clinic every game. No fluff, no ridiculous stories that sounded like a junior high schooler presenting a book report in front of the class (think Susan Waldman of the Yankees)…they were my eyes. And I loved listening to them so much, that I would often turn down the sound on the television and turn up the radio instead.