NEW YORK (AP) — Jay Horwitz’s first interaction with the New York Mets was in January 1980. He spilled orange juice on newly hired general manager Frank Cashen minutes into a job interview about working for the team’s public relations department.
Horwitz never envisioned 42 years later he would be honored by the team for his media relations career. He recounted that story along with other memories on Sunday when the Mets had the press box at Citi Field dedicated in his honor before their game with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Horwitz, 76, joined the team in ’80, the first year it was owned by Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, after serving as the sports information director at Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. He oversaw media relations as the team emerged as a contender and won its second World Series title in 1986.
Horwitz headed the media relations department through New York’s other two World Series appearances, in the Subway Series against the Yankees in 2000, and in 2015 against the Royals. He transitioned to his current role of vice president of alumni public relations and team historian in 2018, and wrote a book about his lengthy tenure with the Mets in 2020.
“It’s crazy,” Horwitz said. “When I first started, I could never imagine this in a million years. I was a young kid out of a small school in New Jersey and just to work for some place for 42 years and have a viable job, it’s good to be part of things at my age. It’s good to feel like you still make a difference in what you do.”
The ceremony was attended by current owner Steve Cohen, along with Wilpon and many team employees, some wearing T-shirts with a picture of Horwitz typing into his phone.
Longtime Mets radio announcer Howie Rose emceed the ceremony attended by Mookie Wilson and Tim Teufel from the 1986 Mets, along with Todd Zeile and John Franco of the 2000 team. Also in attendance were Mets President Sandy Alderson; Terry Collins, who managed the team from 2011-17 and led the Mets to their most recent World Series appearance; and former general manager Omar Minaya.
“The fact of the matter is that for everybody, who’s ever had anything whatsoever to do with the New York Mets, Jay was there for them,” Rose said, “and he is to this day the way he’s working for the alumni to galvanize them and bring them as close together to the current Mets organization as they’ve ever been. And that’s been a wonderful thing to see.”
After the packed ceremony, Horwitz received a video tribute and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Franco.
The ceremony capped a weekend of celebrating their history for the Mets. Before Friday’s home opener, they unveiled a long-awaited statue of pitcher Tom Seaver in a 40-minute ceremony.
The late Hall of Famer’s wife and two daughters were front and center for the festivities. The monument, standing 10 feet tall and 13 1/2 feet long, depicts Seaver’s classic drop-and-drive delivery, baseball in his right hand.
On Saturday, the family of Gil Hodges was honored to celebrate his long-awaited Hall of Fame induction in July. Hodges hit 370 homers and made eight All-Star teams with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He also is known for leading Seaver and the Mets to their first World Series run in 1969 after a history of losing.
Hodges, who died of a heart attack on April 2, 1972, two days shy of his 48th birthday, was elected to the Hall of Fame in December by a special committee, ending 50 years of waiting.
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