I have a new favorite book and it’s Howie Rose’s Put It In The Book.
Howie’s book is just what you’d think it is, a mix of personal stories and Mets anecdotes (and some hockey). Like many great books it’s a personalized look at Mets history and I wish my book could have been a third as well written as Howie’s.
The fine folks at Triumph Books hooked me up with a review copy and also with a phone interview with Howie. We spoke for just under half an hour.
Behind the scenes at MetsPolice.com: understand that I am not a full-time blogger. I snuck in my call with Howie when I was supposed to be hunting down SPECTRE agents at my day-job at MI-6.
Dan from Mets Police asked me if I recorded it. Nope. Kinda hard to rig up recording equipment at MI-6. So what you are going to read below is my recollection of how the conversation went based upon my memory, the 17 interruptions from my family as I write this on Tuesday night, and my scratch notes which I will share with you at the bottom of the article.
Howie was very thoughtful in his answers and gracious while talking to some random blogger (me). I had my questions written in advance, but like any normal conversation I stayed in the flow, threw some out, and definitely resequenced them. I also wasn’t doing a podcast, so I kept it more conversational rather than Q&A. Finally, I decided to scribble notes and enjoy my time with him rather than try to transcribe every last word.
And with that pre-amble, here is my recollection of a conversation with Howie Rose. I have used quotes where I wrote down exact words, and if I have blown a word here and there my apologies to Howie – but the general gist of the comments is intact.
I started with the dedication where he talks about how he met his wife. Howie tells the story in the book but their first date was on a Sunday night in July 1986 and he had just come home from a Mets game. Hmmm, I just looked up the day I met my wife in 1993 and the Mets were home that day and I was still a vendor….I wonder if I too met my wife after a Mets game. Howie told me they didn’t really talk about the Mets on the first date, but on the second date she was rattling off 1969 Mets and their uniform numbers. When she knew that Rod Gaspar was #17 Howie knew he might have something.
I told Howie that it caught my ears that he was announced on Opening Day as “the long time” voice of the Mets and how that caught my ear because to me he is “the new guy.” With pride Howie reminded me he has been doing this a while, doing play-by-lay starting in 1989, TV since “95-96” (is how I wrote it.)
I asked him how he has managed to bridge the gap between being a known Mets fan but never being accused of being a homer. “Most guys who do local sports want their team to win.” He added that there are a “few who have no emotional attachment” to a local team, but since you’re around it and you know the people it’s natural.
He spoke about telling the truth of the game. Not every game has a goat. Not every bad thing is because somebody made a mistake. So he just tells the story of the game.
We talked a little about Mets Extra and Howie shared that “Davey was clever in latching on to the show.” It wasn’t just the interviews but Davey could explain the managerial moves to the fans. “Davey and I got along great!”
On the subject of managers, I asked how Davey got named to the all-time team at the 92nd Street Y event. I asked how they got that one past Seaver. Howie didn’t recall if Seaver was part of the process or not, nor did Howie tell me who he voted for but he did say that “to me Gil Hodges was one of the most important people who ever graced” the Mets organization.
I switched up there and asked about the Santana no-hitter. I told him how I feared that he wasn’t at the game when I saw on twitter that Jim Duquette was in the booth. Of course Howie was and it was Josh Lewin was off. Did he feel bad for Josh? “Sure, I felt for him but what mitigates that was he was (at a great event, his daughter’s graduation).”
Did he rehearse the Santana call?
“I never believed it would happen.” Howie had never been in a situation like that, and not just as a broadcaster. He had never been in a situation where you got the second out. He was there when Seaver lost a no-hitter with one out. No Met had ever gotten within one out of a no-hitter at home.
“I’m thinking, Molina on deck…one of the all-time Mets villains…another notch on his belt.”
“I was in as suspended a moment of disbelief” as he has ever gotten in sports.
“I never thought it would happen.”
Tomorrow – more with Howie Rose. What happened to his Mercury Mets jersey? Can he pull rank on Josh Lewin if the Mets are about to win the World Series? Will Howie join twitter? Come back tomorrow Mets fans!