Meet The Voice of the Mets – Gary Cohen
By Joe McDonald
Just don’t tell him that.
“I think things have changed,” Cohen said. “These days most people follow the team on television and most games are on television. In the 1950s and 1960s, the lead radio broadcaster was the voice of the team, but now you have 10 people. It’s not as clear cut as it used to be.”
It’s that frank talk that has endeared the 46 year-old broadcaster to the fans of the Amazons. Even though he grew up in the shadow of Shea Stadium, listening to his former radio partner, he doesn’t let his affinity for the team affect his broadcasting.
“When you are broadcasting for a team, you see things from your team’s point of view,” Cohen explained. “But, fans in New York appreciate with being told what is happening and making decisions for themselves. If you do anything less than that, you lose credibility and when you do see something that you want to laud, then nobody believes it.”
The broadcaster learned that style from listening to New York legends like Marv Albert, Marty Glickman and, of course, the Murph. But it was Murphy that taught him one valuable lesson.
“In a close game and in the late innings he would bring you to the edge of your seat and feel the moment,” he said. “There’s `difference broadcasting in the fourth inning and in the ninth inning. The tension is different and I think Murph conveyed that better than anyone.”
That excitement was never greater than Game Four of the 1999 NLDS. When backup catcher Todd Pratt hit the series-winning walk off home run, Cohen rattled off a call, which he felt was his most memorable.
“The great thing about that was that most everyone in the ballpark didn’t think it was going to be a home run,” Cohen said. “It went up over the fence and no one knew and Pratt didn’t even know. It gave a tension for the moment for the Mets.”
Cohen stated in the Mets booth in 1989. After calling games for the Durham Bulls and Pawtucket Red Sox, his dream job opened up when Gary Thorne left to call games for the Chicago White Sox.
“There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t have to pinch myself,” he said. “Here I am working with this legend. Murph was a very special part of Mets history and New York baseball history.”
And because Cohen knew Murphy so well due to listening to him for all those years, he meshed with the Hall of Famer immediately.
“When I came to New York and worked with Murph, I never realized how much of him rubbed off of me and how much of my phraseology come from him,” Cohen said. “I think in some kind of subtle way, he rubbed off on me since I was six years old.”
It was like that for 15 years. But for his last 10 years, Murphy cut back and let other broadcasters in the booth with Cohen. He finally retired in 2003 and subsequently passed away less than a year later. Howie Rose became Cohen new partner and it was immediate success.
“Howie and I came from similar backgrounds,” Cohen said. “We both grew up in Queens and we both are up Met fans. He’s a few years older than me, so our experiences watching the Mets over the years both watching the Mets as fans and broadcasters are similar. So it made sense and it’s been great right from the start.”
So Cohen is doing what he loves to do. Besides the Mets, he also is the voice of Seton Hall basketball and has called national games with CBS Radio. But calling games at Shea is what he loves. “I never aspired to do anything next and this is what I always wanted to do.” Cohen added. “I did a lot of national games, but I got everything I want right here.”
He is truly the “Voice of the Mets.”