Ten Minutes With Gary Cohen
Gary Cohen’s career as a broadcaster has been, well, a home run. The father of five has been calling New York Mets baseball games for 25 years. He started on the radio, but in 2005 he joined Mets greats Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling in the TV booth. In 2000, he and his wife, Lynn Cohen, moved to Ridgefield. We recently met up with him at Starbucks, to get the play-by-play on his years with the team.
Did you always want to be a broadcaster? When I was a kid I was more focused on being an athlete. My goal was to be shortstop for the Mets or power forward for the Knicks, but between a lack of height and a lack of talent those things were never going to work out.
What led you to broadcasting? From the time I was about nine years old, I had an AM radio in my room and discovered the miracle of sports on radio. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that might be something I would enjoy doing.
How do you prepare for a game? Preparation is a lifelong thing. In the course of a broadcast I might draw on something that I read when I was eight, or saw when I was 18, or read about last night.
Any favorite Mets moments to call? The four years before I started in ’89 was probably the best four-year stretch in Mets history. After I arrived they didn’t go back to the postseason for ten years. When they finally did, in 1999, that year was an incredibly special year.
Is it hard when the team struggles? We’ve had a lot of bad years, and people ask all the time if it hard to do the games when the team is bad. My answer is, “No, I’m getting paid to watch baseball games.”
Any hope for the Mets future? Clearly it has been a long-term rebuilding process, but I think the Mets have gone about it the right way, trying to build through the farm system.
Even Yankee fans admit you, Keith, and Ron are a great broadcast team. What’s your secret? When I step back and look at it the most important quality that we have in our booth is a lack of ego, and that’s rarer than you would think.
Any favorite Ridgefield hangouts? I’m not a big hangout guy. I’m a homebody.
What’s the hardest part of the job? I dive in in March and I don’t come up for air until October. From a family standpoint, that can be very difficult.
Any advice for aspiring baseball broadcasters? One, be well read. The better versed you are in the English language the greater dividends that will pay down the road. Two, grab a recorder and practice. Three, listen to what you record, be your own best critic. And then do it again, and again, and again, and again.
What was your first practice broadcast like? It was a Penn versus Lafayette freshman football game. I sat in the upper deck of Franklin Field recording the most God-awful thing that’s ever been placed on tape. I think that’s where everybody has to start, just talking into a microphone and trying to figure it out, trying to find your voice.