HATIN’ ON HAGIN

HATIN’ ON HAGIN

By Steve Keane

For a group of people who are supposed to be so sophisticated and happening, when it comes to calling the action of our Amazin’ Mets, we are unbelievably clannish and provincial. Case in point, I give you radio play by play man Wayne Hagin.

Now some of you just muttered “YUUCCCCCK” some of you just rolled your eyes, and some of you just shrug and say “Eh” but I doubt any of you said ‘WOW Wayne Hagin he’s GrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEAT!.

For the first fifteen years of my Mets fandom, every year there were three men who reported to me every pitch and at bat of the NY Mets, Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner. This is the Holy Trinity of Mets broadcasters. The three were there from the birth of the Mets and thankfully Kiner is still with us as an occasional booth guest on SNY. All three brought something different to the broadcast; Nelson was a one time war correspondent, who welcomed the new innovation of color television by wearing multi colored patch work sports coats on the WOR telecasts. Murphy was the eternal optimist who not matter how bad the team played or how many seasons they were double digits games behind first place, he always made Mets fans feel this was a team worth rooting for. Every 9th inning lead had us “fasten our seat belts” after every win he came back with “A happy recap”. Kiner was the suave former baseball slugger who we all wanted to emulate as he could crush a baseball and date starlets. This trio was the only constant in Metsdom.

After Lindsey Nelson left the Mets in 1978, this started a parade of voices, names like Steve Albert, Lorn Brown, and Steve Zabriskie. There were some more familiar names like Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub and Tim McCarver and of course the polarizing Frances Xavier Healy. The only saving grace was Murph and Ralphie were still around.

What was unique about all the announcers the Mets employed at that point ,except for Albert, none of these voices spoke our American dialect, NOO YAWK-ese. It wasn’t until Howie Rose started doing Mets Extra on WHN (and then WFAN) and Gary Cohen started doing radio with Murphy in 1989 did we have a couple of guys who spoke our language AND they were also one of us, Mets fans.

After Murphy retired we were treated to Cohen and Rose on WFAN and that’s where we got spoiled.

Rose and Cohen are not only great announcers, but both are walking, talking Mets Encyclopedia’s. They sat in the stands where we sat in the Upper Deck at Shea. They went to Banner Day, and Old Timers Day. They drank Borden’s Milk and saved the coupons. Their hearts ached when Tom Seaver pitched his imperfect game and they cried on June 15th 1977 The Midnight Massacre. Just like us. They celebrated 1969 and 1986 with us. Ahhhhhhhh it’s great to have a couple of “our own” talking Mets baseball.

That’s why I feel bad for Wayne Hagin. Hagin is a very nice guy, I rode the 7 train with him a couple of times after Mets games as he headed to his Manhattan apartment. He is a great story teller, the kind of guy who makes a snappy after dinner speaker but he has a major flaw, he’s not one of us.

I have to confess, I watch a lot more Mets games on SNY than I do listening to on the radio but when I do, it’s such a letdown when Hagin chimes in when Howie is the lead voice and is infuriating when he goes solo. I hate to say it but Hagin is not big time enough for us Mets fans. The hate for Hagin goes so deep; there is a Fire Wayne Hagin site up and running with all your favorite Hagin-isims present and accounted for. Too bad there wasn’t a Fire Gary Thorne website back when he was busting our eardrums with his senseless screaming.

So leave a comment Mets fans, are you pro-Hagin, anti-Hagin or could not care less Hagin?