NEW YORK -- It’s only fitting that when Ron Darling enters the Mets Hall of Fame next weekend, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez will be there alongside him.
Darling chose his SNY boothmates, Cohen and Hernandez, to introduce him as a Mets Hall of Famer during the team’s ceremony before their Saturday game against the Reds, which seems apt. Although Darling will enter the Hall of Fame alongside Jon Matlack and Edgardo Alfonzo because of his nine seasons on the field, he’s just as well-known these days as a cog in the broadcast booth.
“Now, I’m in people’s living rooms or kitchens or whatever nightly,” Darling said, laughing. “I’m certainly more famous as an announcer than I ever was as a player.”
It is as a pitcher, however, that Darling did enough to earn induction to the Mets Hall of Fame, which currently includes 16 players, five executives, three managers and three broadcasters. Darling, Alfonzo and Matlack will make it an even 30 in the Hall, which was established with the inductions of Joan Payson and Casey Stengel in 1981. The Mets have held regular ceremonies since that time, but none since Mike Piazza in 2013, matching the longest dry spell since the Hall’s existence.
The drought will end with a group that spans wide swaths of franchise history. Matlack played for the Mets from 1971-77, serving as a key member of the team’s 1973 run to the National League pennant. He owns the fourth-lowest ERA by a qualified starter in franchise history, and the lowest by a left-handed pitcher.
Alfonzo was a stalwart of the Mets’ renaissance from 1995-2002, often overshadowed by Piazza but one of the best hitters in franchise history in his own right.
Then there is Darling, whose accolades as a Met include 99 wins, a 3.50 ERA and significant playoff success, including seven shutout innings in Game 4 of the 1986 World Series. Darling will become the eighth member of the ’86 team to enter the Mets Hall, following Mookie Wilson, Hernandez, Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, manager Davey Johnson and general manager Frank Cashen.
“I played with great, great stars,” Darling said. “So I probably was the second tier, which I was absolutely fine with. But I guess I’m first tier now, because there’s only three of us in the booth.”
Darling plans to bring about 60 friends and family to the ceremony, which will take place shortly before gametime. Tickets remain available, and fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. ET for the induction.
Darling considers it an honor to be introduced as a Mets Hall of Famer by coworkers he considers friends, as well as two other longtime fan favorites. Working his current job at SNY, Darling said, he has learned more about the history of the team than he ever knew as a player, thanks in large part to Cohen’s encyclopedic knowledge of the team. Now 60 years old, Darling is more aware of his own place within that history than ever before.
“I’m very proud of my time with the Mets, very proud to be a World Series champion with them, and also very proud to be a broadcaster,” Darling said.