By Brett Topel
For Howie Rose, it’s always been about family.
The Queens native has been a part of the Mets’ family for his entire life—both personally and professionally. On Nov. 3, his two families came together for his biggest day — when he was inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. It was an honor that Rose didn’t take lightly.
“When I got the call out of the blue, I was really overwhelmed with appreciation,” Rose said about finding out he had been elected to the Hall. “I’m honored to be part of a collection of some of the biggest names in baseball history.”
While his election to the Hall might have been unexpected for Rose, it was the surprise that occurred about 30 minutes before the induction ceremony began that caught him completely off guard. When Rose traveled with his wife Barbara from his Florida home to Troy, the long-time Roslyn resident had no idea that his daughters Alyssa and Chelsea had been cooking up a little scheme.
“My daughters actually surprised me,” Rose said. “I was getting dressed for the ceremony, and there was a knock on my hotel room door which had a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on it. To be honest, I was pretty ticked off. I was not going to open the door. I looked through the peephole and there was no one there. … Finally, my wife—who was in on the secret—said ‘will you just open the door!’ So I opened the door and there was Alyssa and Chelsea and I was speechless for a couple of seconds. Completely surprised.”
Having his entire family with him made the event even more special. “I was incredibly touched,” Rose said. “It meant the world to me.”
Rose has been a part of the Mets’ family — at least professionally — since 1987, when he first hosted “Mets Extra” and the team’s pre-game show on WFAN radio. Over the years he has been a Mets’ broadcaster both on television and radio and became the lead radio play-by-play voice in 2006. He now heads up the broadcast team on the Mets’ flagship station, WCBS-880 AM.
In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Rose spoke about many aspects of his career, including some of his favorite calls — such as Mike Piazza’s post-9/11 home run and Johan Santana’s no-hitter.
However, he also spoke of the men he has had the fortune to work alongside of — people such as Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner, and Tom Seaver. While those men are all legends in their own right, Rose himself has carved a very special niche into Mets history.
“For me, the default mechanism is to just accept the surrealism of it all,” he said about working with some of the all-time greats. “I’m really trying to embrace the tremendous honor that it’s been for me to represent the organization that I grew up in love with.”
Rose, a baseball-crazy kid from Queens, who sat in the parking lot and watched Shea Stadium be erected in the early 1960s, attended Cardozo High School in Bayside and later Queens College. He broke into the broadcasting business in 1975 as one of the original voices of the long-defunct SportsPhone and has never stopped working. Rose is grateful for the opportunities he has had with the Mets, however, doesn’t need to take a step back to soak it all in. He keeps all of the great memories he has had right in the forefront of his thoughts.
“I’ve always been introspective by nature,” Rose said. “It’s all very humbling. When I think of the 1969 Mets and where I was then—as a 15-year-old at Cardozo High, and what it was like to be enveloped by that team—and move the clock forward 50 years, really dig into the number of years that I’ve worked for the club and the connection that hopefully, I have made with the fans, it’s mind-boggling for me. I’ve never needed to take a step back because it has happened organically.”
Inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame along with Rose were 15 other men and women.
The 2019 honorees included former Mets Ron Darling and Art Shamsky, former Yankees Bobby Murcer, Ron Guidry, and Thurman Munson, and sports writer Bill Madden. Each year, the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame selects players, executives, broadcasters, and other influential members in the state.
Brett Topel is the author of four books, including “Miracle Moments in New York Mets History” and “When Shea Was Home: The Story of the 1975 Mets, Yankees, Giants & Jets.” Visit www.topelmetsbook.com for more information on Topel’s books.