2002-05-11 / Sports

Mets’ Ted Robinson Returns To The Home Team

By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

As New York Mets announcer Ted Robinson walks the grass at Shea Stadium during batting practice, the sun is shining, a stiff wind from Flushing Bay flows across the field, and it is 2 hours until game time. The fans have just started to file in, and a big crowd is expected.

For those who cannot get to the ballpark, Robinson will describe the sights and sounds as he calls the Mets-Milwaukee Brewers game on WFAN with Gary Cohen to millions of listeners on the Mets Radio network. Ted will be announcing for his boyhood team. Ted is home.

Ted Robinson was born in Belle Harbor and lived there until he moved, at the age of 3, with his family to the South Shore in Long Island. He always returned to the Rockaways during the summer and holidays and fondly remembers his time here: "I would visit my grandparents place, go to St. Francis de Sales Church where my parents was married and I was baptized there. It was my second home."

Robinson talked of his experiences at the old Playland amusement park, especially at one of the booths where the person has to throw a football through the inside of car tires to win prizes. "I kicked that game’s butt" Robinson says laughing.

Robinson, now 45 years old, got the idea to become an announcer from watching and listening to Hall of Fame voices ranging from Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson to Marv Albert and Marty Glickman. "Marty Glickman was a great announcer because he called any game with an authorative call." Robinson remembers. People believed what he was saying and stay tuned to him." Robinson also remembers Marv Albert. "Marv Albert was someone I grew up listening to. His passion and enthusiasm for the game was so evident that I wanted to emulate him."

Before arriving with the Mets, he had spent the last 9 years on play by play with the San Francisco Giants on TV and radio. He has covered many sporting events in many different places over the years. Ted has done play by play for baseball teams such as the Minnesota Twins, and radio, play by play for the NCAA basketball championships, football and various other sports.

Tennis and the Olympics:

There are certain events Robinson covers each year that he looks forward to. For the last 15 years, he has called play by play for the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows Park for the USA Network and Wimbledon for NBC. Robinson points out the tradition of Wimbledon. "Wimbledon is so steeped in tradition with little conversation, no music and other things that is so different from American sports. It’s like a sensory underlode." It is an extraordinary experience for me."

In 2000, Robinson was lead baseball announcer for NBC in the Summer Olympics. "Sydney is an amazing and beautiful city. The support of the people I truly appreciated because they was so gracious to me." As the baseball tournament started, the U.S. Olympic baseball team, with a cast of minor leaguers and former major leaguers managed by Tommy Lasorda, was not expected to get far. "As they advanced, I saw the incredible pitching talent that the U.S. had. six pitchers from the staff are on major league teams today." With pitchers such as Roy Oswalt and Ben Sheets, and reclamation projects such as Doug Mientkiewiecz, the team won the gold.

It was a big contrast for Robinson to cover the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. "The city was very subdued, the security was tight and those factors may have taken some life out of the event." The reason for the tight security was the fear of terrorist attacks due to September 11, 2001.

Proud to be a New Yorker

On that Tuesday morning, Robinson had just landed in Houston to announce the Giants-Astros game. The focus for Robinson that night was to call the game that was important for the Giants’ chance to win the NL West and Barry Bonds continuing quest to break the 70 home run record held by Mark McGwire. All that changed.

"As a New Yorker, I felt what every person might have felt like when it happened." As Robinson called to New York, he received news that his family was safe. However, Ted’s brother lost a friend who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the towers.

MLB canceled games that night and thought about resuming games the Friday of that week. "On that Friday, the players got together and said we are not playing on a day of mourning for the nation. They communicated to the union that as a team they wouldn’t play." He was proud of the team to come together and do that. In the Giants clubhouse with players and management, he watched the first game played in New York after Sept.11 as the Mets took on the Braves. "I was proud of the people in New York and I was proud to be a New Yorker."

The events of the November 12 Flight 587 crash in Belle Harbor was deeply troubling for Robinson. "It happened 3 blocks away from where I was born and I was so saddened by what happened."

The Baseball Universe

For nine years as a Giants announcer, Robinson had covered Barry Bonds and greatly admires the skills he has brought to the game. Robinson says, "In 1993, Barry Bonds had one of the greatest seasons as a player I ever saw." (He was NL MVP that year) Today, he is such a smarter hitter than in 93 and his 2001 season was so great that it has to be the greatest season for any hitter that I have ever seen"

The contraction issue has hung around baseball so far this year, and it really bugs Robinson. As an announcer for the Twins from 1988-1992, he had seen the great fan support that the fans had given to the team. "It is insane that Minnesota might be contracted. They were the first American League team to draw 3 million fans and win 2 World Series titles. There should be baseball in Minnesota"

Robinson knows the Mets early season struggles, defensively and with the bat, will turn around eventually with the talent that they have. Robinson says it is still early in the season to make a definitive judgment on the team.

Final Thoughts

When he decided to become a broadcaster, his goal was to incorporate the qualities of the announcers he grew up listening to and apply them to his broadcasting. Robinson told me, "I want to connect with the fans the way that Marv Albert and Marty Glickman did." Ed Coleman, who hosts the pre and game shows and does play by play for WFAN Mets broadcasts, knows the talent Robinson has. "I have knows Ted since he worked with the Giants", Coleman says. "He is good to work with, very knowledgeable and a great guy."

Still living in San Francisco with his wife and family, Robinson will eventually buy a place in New York for his family. "I would like to visit Belle Harbor this summer and come back and enjoy the memories I have of the area and the Rockaways", Robinson says with a big smile on his face.

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