Players old and new gather to honor Horwitz

Long-time Mets media relations leader to shift roles at season's end

September 12th, 2018

NEW YORK -- They came from the 1969 team, from the '86 World Series champions and the 2000 and '15 runners-up. They came from around the country to Citi Field, where players, managers, coaches and front-office members past and present feted Jay Horwitz at the tail end of his final season in media relations.

The Mets officially announced Wednesday that Horwitz will transition to vice president of alumni public relations and team historian, effective Oct. 1. Thus ends a 39-season run at the helm of the Mets' media relations department, where he served as a liaison for generations of players.

"Thirty-nine years has been a long time to have one job," Horwitz said, at the end of a winding speech that saw him recap some of his most memorable -- and oftentimes uncouth -- moments in media relations. "I look forward to next year with some apprehension because it's a new thing for me, but I'm really looking forward to it. It's a new chapter in my life."

The first chapter of Horwitz's Mets career began in 1980, when he spilled orange juice on general manager Frank Cashen during his interview. Afterward, Horwitz, the PR director at Farleigh Dickenson University, called his mother to tell her he wouldn't be getting the job.

But Horwitz did get it, eventually winning multiple public relations awards as he oversaw players from Mookie Wilson to Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry to Dwight Gooden, John Franco to . They were all on hand Wednesday for the ceremony, along with Joe Torre, Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and other Mets luminaries.

In his new role, Horwitz plans to continue fostering relationships between the team and its alumni -- a process that took a rather public turn last month, when Horwitz invited Ed Kranepool to Citi Field in an attempt to help him find a kidney donor. Next year, Horwitz will spearhead the Mets' 50th anniversary celebration of the 1969 team.

"I'm 73 years old now," he said. "I could be out playing Parcheesi someplace. I'm happy to have a great job."

In leaving media relations, however, Horwitz will miss his interactions with the players, who crowded the room Wednesday to see him off. While many of his more colorful stories from four decades on the job are unfit for print, Horwitz considers the Mets his family.

"He's been a teacher," Wright said. "He's been a counselor. … You really mean the world to us as players. You've always had our backs. I've seen you get pretty close to fist fights with members of the media, and that's certainly something that we'll never forget."

Franco, who along with Wright served as a Mets captain, broke into tears when he took the podium to discuss his relationship with Horwitz.

"He would fight for the players," Franco said. "No matter how bad things were, he was there. I love you, man. Thank you."