“One thing I noticed early on was that any time a great Mets player from recent years showed up, he would see Jay and break into a smile, and they’d immediately start talking like old friends.”
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom said the above about longtime New York Mets publicist Jay Horwitz. An excerpt from the foreword of “Mr. Met” a book released this week, authored by Horwitz, who has adapted into his new role as Director of Mets Alumni Relations.
This is the appropriate title. Jay Horwitz, with 40 years in the Mets organization has seen them come and go. This, as he says, is not a tell tale book. It’s more about writing about some of the many experiences and great moments with Mets players. Writing about the baseball personnel over the years in what can be claimed as a Hall of Fame career.
And from this perspective, knowing Jay since 1980, there is no debate that this beloved baseball executive needs to be enshrined in a wing at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The statement from deGrom, still considered a rookie among the Mets that Jay has been associated with, is one of many that are compelling. This is a different story being told here and reminiscing about the days of a young and upcoming sports writer and those days before the Mets.
The important sports information director roles at NYU and Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. From there, the call to interview with the Mets, including a mishap after spilling a cup of orange juice on the white shorts of then GM Frank Cashman
The mishap at his job interview did not not have an impact. Jay got the call a few weeks later and the rest is history.
“I couldn’t believe the news,” Horwitz wrftes. “It was the thrill of a lifetime. There was something about working for a professional sports team. I loved the idea of being part of a group and of course I’d been a fan of the New York Mets for years.”
The rest is history from the players, the championships, the pranks from John Franco and other players. They loved Jay. This is a doctor of sports public relations and he protected his players when adversity hit home.
The managers also. Joe Torre, Davey Johnson, Bobby Valentine, Terry Collins, to name a few. The Johnson championship 1986 Mets with Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden. and how adversity was handled with the meda,.
Doc and Jay are like brothers and they talk more than once a week. Gooden, the 19-year old rookie, and Jay Horwtiz explain that year of 1986. Gooden, always in demand for an interview, continues to ask Jay to assist with the requests.
“ I always had that trust with Jay and still do,” Gooden says.
And with Horwitz, in his new role, Doc and Jay meet often at Citi Field. They talk about the memories in the press dining room and most of all the well being of Doc and his family.
“He’s always been real,” says Doc. That reality and sincerity do show when they meet with a hug and laugh about those years together.
The new role, head of Mets Alumni Relations, brings back players to Citi Field every weekend during the season. Last year, the initial stages were a success just like all those years handling media requests on the field and in the press boxes at Shea Stadium and Citi Field.
You saw the love and respect in the home dugout, in the press dining room. from the players that Jay Horowtiz has defined as a second family.
The title is appropriate. Jay Horwtiz is “Mr, Met.”
Jay shared more than one memory with some of his former players that are friends, and as he says in Chapter 14, “My Second Family.” That also includes the previous general managers, and the Wilpon family ownership that brought him into the family in 1980.
And from this perspective, our first meeting in those years as a rookie reporter, did not get off to a good start. Jay knew me from my years also as a young Sports Information Director at the City College of New York.
But it was different in the press box at Shea Stadium. Jay Horwitz was in command and there were boundaries.
“I can’t let you in everytime,” he would say. That time, I was a young reporter for the weekly and now defunct Bronx News. But, like two pros at their game, the boundaries were respected.
Our respect for each other has lasted all these years. “Mr. Met” can provide further insights how others have that respect for Jay Horwitz.
Compelling? Every book has some of that. The final chapter is devoted to “Shannon.” Shannon Forde, the late assistant to Horwitz who passed away from breast cancer. An intern hired and the start of a father-daughter relationship in the office.
“She made a difference in so many lives,” Horwirtz writes.
He misses Shannon. They were inseparable to and from the ballpark. Too much to tell about this, and it is very much about respect and being on the same page from the first day.
It is those reflections and days with the Mets over the years.
“One of the main objectives in writing this book was to let kids who were born with some type of disability know that their future can still be bright,” Horwitz writes.
“I was born blind in my right eye and went through a lot abuse from other kids because I looked different than anyone else. It was tough, but with the help of my parents I persevered. I never let hurtful words keep me down. My fervent hope is that if some youngster reads this book, he or she might say ”If Jay could overcome that problem I can overcome my issue.”
He says that would make him happy that a youngster would get an inspiration from his life.
Thing is, and again from this perspective, we all have been inspired by “Mr. Met” How a Sports Mad Kid from Jersey Became Like Family to Generations of Big Leaguers
Published by Triumph, the book is available in bookstores and Amazon.com
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