2006-01-20 / Sports

Darling Joins Hernandez and Cohen In The Booth

By Joe McDonald

Going into its first year, SportsNet NY has decided to go back to the future by filling out its booth with two prominent members of the 1986 championship team.

Former pitcher Ron Darling and first baseman Keith Hernandez will join play-by-play man Gary Cohen as SportsNet looks to bring a New York flavor to its broadcasts.

“We are thrilled to have Keith and Ron as the newest members of the SNY team. Their incredible resumes as players, particularly as teammates from the ‘86 Championship season, have endeared them both to all New York fans,” said Jon Litner, the President of SNY. “Keith and Ron will provide our viewers with insightful, contemporary analysis from a player’s perspective, as well as a passionate approach to Mets baseball — providing viewers with the highest production level for Mets telecasts.”

Hernandez and Darling will also be a part of pre and post game show, which will be hosted by newcomer Siafa Lewis. And since 2006 will be the 20th anniversary of the championship team, the two former teammates will also be participating in many programs on that season.

“As we approach the 20-year anniversary of the Mets 1986 World Championship, it is such a great gift for me to start with a new network that covers the Mets in a city where I literally grew up,” Darling said. “I am very excited to work with Gary, an extremely talented play-by-play announcer who has a long history with the Mets, as well as my good friend and former teammate, Mex, whose company and candor I have always enjoyed.”

The two analysts are taking on larger roles compared to their previous gigs. Hernandez becomes a full time booth man after having a lesser role with the MSG Network and Darling comes to New York after one year with the Washington Nationals, where he broadcasted 150 games and made the decision to go into announcing full time.

“The one thing that’s impressed both Jon and I about Ron, is that when he came in for our internal interview — which was a rather lengthy one — he showed us he was very focused and determined on doing this, “ said Curt Gowdy, Jr., Vice President and Executive Producer of SNY.

Both Hernandez and Darling will call all nine innings with Cohen and participate in as many games as they can.

SportsNet has also reached out to Ralph Kiner and Tom Seaver and Gowdy said they will probably have a role with the network, but long time analyst Fran Healy is under contract with the MSG Network and will not be part of the new venture.

On other fronts, negotiations with numerous cable outlets in the area are ongoing and the network hopes to have full penetration by the time it launches in March.

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