Brian Costello, of the New York Post, has a fun article called, “NEVER MORE POPULAR, HERNANDEZ IS THE REAL MR. MET”
The full article is available at the New York Post web site.
Portions of Costello’s article are below…
Hernandez, 54, may be more popular at Shea Stadium than ever, 19 years after his final game as a Met.
"People just love him," said Gary Cohen, who shares the broadcast booth with Hernandez on SNY. "He's a rock star."
(He was also a PHENOMENAL defensive first baseman, a clutch offensive player, a manager on the field, absolutely, a team player, and at times, he was a pitching coach and hitting coach, to his teammates.)
Through his broadcast work, a memorable appearance on "Seinfeld" and the nostalgia for the '86 Mets, Hernandez has become a cult figure among Mets fans. His mustache was voted America's favorite last year, his jersey is one of the best-sellers among throwbacks, and fans scream his name when he's spotted.
(Keith’s brutal honesty and lack of political correctness, in an era where so many people can talk for hours, and say truly nothing, because they’re afraid to voice an honest opinion, is EXTREMELY refreshing. I love when Keith just lets his comments fly, with Cohen & Darling laughing, and wondering if they’ll get into trouble for his comments. Frequently, their best broadcasts are when the score is out of hand, and they talk about anything but the game. Keith going off on a tangent, is very entertaining television.)
Hernandez's popularity is so high that whenever a Mets manager is in trouble, dating back to Bobby Valentine, Hernandez's name emerges as a replacement. This despite the fact he has never managed or coached at any level and swears he has no interest in the job.
(Keith would be crazy to become a Met manager. He is ridiculously popular, and close to bulletproof, as an announcer, deservedly popular with Mets’ fans.)
Hernandez's name was thrown out on talk radio as the most popular choice among Mets fans to replace Randolph.
"My name always comes up," Hernandez said. "Managing entails so much more today than it did in my time [as a player]. I'm just not prepared to make that kind of commitment."
(I love when Keith gets bored during games, and shows frustration with the “commitment” to be there for an entire game. Could you imagine if he was there for all 162 games ? When he loses focus, goes off on a tangent, and has to ask Gary what happened during the game, so he can update his scorecard, it’s hysterical.)
Hernandez retired in 1990. Two years later, his agent, Scott Boras, called with an offer to guest star on "Seinfeld." Hernandez had never heard of the show, but thought the money sounded good. He flew to Los Angeles, panicked a bit when he saw his lines, then became part of TV history. The two-part episode, "The Boyfriend," is among the most popular of any show ever.
"A lot of people watch sports," Hernandez said. "More people watch 'Seinfeld.' It gave me a second life, it reached a broader population. I was very lucky. I think I've always had a guardian angel looking out for me."
To this day, Hernandez can't walk through an airport without someone yelling lines from the show.
In 1999, he returned to the Mets as a broadcaster, but his popularity soared in 2006 when teamed with Cohen and Ron Darling on the SNY crew. From his no-holds-barred critiques of the team to his history lessons and quirky stories, he has endeared himself to the audience.
(The Mets have been blessed to have some terrific announcers. Ralph Kiner has reached “legend” status with Met fans, and I love the respect that Gary, Keith and Ron show to Kiner. The current combination of Gary, Keith and Ron may be the most popular combination of Met announcers ever. Even when the game is a Met blowout loss, they’re enough to keep me interested in listening to them, rather than getting frustrated and changing the channel.)