By Rob Lep
This interview was conducted during the 2019 MLB Offseason. Gary Cohen was in town as he was inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame alongside his SNY broadcast partner and Mets legend Keith Hernandez. Cohen joined the Mets radio broadcast team in 1989 and became the lead play-by-play announcer in 2003. In 2005, he became the broadcaster for the Mets new cable television network SportsNet New York (SNY), where has has been ever since. He also calls college basketball games for various outlets including Seton Hall, where he is the radio play-by-play voice for Pirates men's basketball.
Rob Lep: 30 years as the voice of the Mets and now something new to add to the resume, NYS Baseball HOF, when you hear that, what comes to mind for you?
Gary Cohen: It’s very very humbling. Especially the company. I mean, Mickey Mantle, Keith Hernandez, Billy Martin, Joe Nathan, etc. These guys have accomplished so much in the game. I’ve been very fortunate to be on radio and television talking about their exploits. Mickey Mantle, its pretty amazing!
RL: You’ve spoken so much in your career about being a Mets fan and now getting to broadcast the Mets, when you look back at your career, how do you put that all into perspective?
GC: It’s pretty amazing. I’ve actually thought about that quite a bit. If i had emerged with some other team, it would have been a very different experience. But i watched and listened to and read about the Mets from the time i was six years old. When i got the job, i kind of had a lot of prep work under my belt.
RL: The special SNY broadcast booth, how do you describe it?
GC: We are very lucky because there was no guarantee the chemistry was going to work. I think what really works for us so well and its pretty amazing when you consider we have a borderline Hall of Famer player in Keith, one of the best pitchers in Mets history with Ronnie is that its a very low ego booth. Nobody has to be a star. We’re all very respectable of each others experiences and what we bring to the table. We’ve also had tremendous production folks.
Bill Webb was our director, the greatest director in the history of tv history before he passed away. Greg Picker is our wonderful producer. He’s so creative and innovative. So it all works and there was no guarantee it was going to. And I don’t think you can quantify how that works but we’re very fortunate.
RL: Touching on Keith how surprised are you with the way social media has embraced him and his cat Hadji and the whole experience of Hernandez?
GC: To me the amazing part is with Keith embracing social media. Once he decided to go in, there was no question folks were going to go in with him. And we all know cats and Twitter are a good fit. So Hadji was a ready made star.
RL: David Wright the special ceremony in September, what was that night like in Flushing?
GC: I was very happy for David that he got that moment. Because there was no guarantee that was going to happen. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that David’s career has been cut short because of injury. When you take into account what he accomplished on the field and the kind of person he is, he will always be one of the most beloved figures in Mets history. I’m just happy for him he was able to get a little closure.
RL: What kind of advice would you give to a young broadcaster who admires you and everything you’ve accomplished in your career?
GC: I would just say work as hard as you can. Practice as much as you can. But most importantly be yourself. Don’t try and copy anyone else. Don’t try to be some other version of someone you've heard. Authenticity is everything.