The MetsRewind Podcast welcomes Mets play-by-play broadcaster Wayne Randazzo to the show. We discuss Mets history, working with Howie Rose, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez, his journey to the majors and the potential of an extended lockout. You can subscribe to the MetsRewind Podcast on iTunes, Spotify or access our archives on our website.
Editor’s note: The transcription below are select excerpts and do not contain the exact word-for-word questions and answers. They have been condensed for clarity and brevity.
MetsRewind: Keith Hernandez. Your thoughts about his number being retired?
Wayne Randazzo: It’s great. Keith is a really charming, wonderful guy. He’s really no different off the air than he is on it … Every single time you talk to him, whether he’s got a microphone in front of him or not, everything you kind of see on the air, Keith and everything you’ve heard from him over the years is pretty much what, what you get from him.
I can’t say enough about how Keith is. It’s really an honor that he is deserved for a long time. That’s a number that probably shouldn’t have been worn by any Met after him, outside of David Cone wearing it in his honor that first year after Keith left. Outside of that, ’17’ probably should have been put away.
MetsRewind: Mets Hall of Fame and retired numbers …
Randazzo: I think this is really the start of an embrace of the Mets pass that we really have been seen over the course of the last many years … and guys [like] David Wright, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry and Gary Carter. I think all of those guys would be deserving … there’s a backlog and they’re going to take care of that.
you spent. Seven years broadcasting between the Mobile Bay Bears (AA) and Kane County (A)
Randazzo: It was really a great level to break in because you have the best minor league baseball … you’ve got all the best minor league players trying to set themselves apart to be on the major league radar. That’s the ultimate separator league. If you do well at AA, you’ve got a really good chance to make it to the major leagues.
In four years I saw so many future all-stars and MVPs and Cy young award winners throughout the league … they had Kershaw, and at that time, Kershaw was ‘the guy.’ He was going to be a stud … Paul Goldschmidt came through, Patrick Corbin was on that team, Trevor Bauer, Adam Eaton … So it was amazing league as far as watching baseball.
MetsRewind: I’m not trying to set you up for any controversy here, but you’d mentioned the name, Trevor Bauer. I don’t know how much time you got to spend around him at AA. Was he a different guy then? You know, vibrant guy. He was an outspoken guy when he got to the majors.
Randazzo: I think at that time, Trevor was really finding his voice. He was just drafted out of UCLA and he didn’t care … Upon him going to Arizona, it was supposed to be agreed upon that Trevor was going to get ready the way that he wanted to; he had this long warmup session before the game. He would start about an hour before first pitch. He’d take this big javelin out onto the field and starts stretching and he’d do all these wild poses kind of doing like yoga before the game out there in the house.
And then they would do the long toss from foul pole to foul pole. He would end up. He would start at a regular distance and then he’d keep going longer until he was foul pole to foul pole. Then they’re all the machinations of his pitches and the different ways. I mean, he was a handful for a minor league team … It really didn’t work out. He kind of ostracized people, Miguel Montero had a problem with him and I think that he had some issues in Arizona. Now I do think he went to other places and found his way. He started believing in himself more finding his voice.
MetsRewind: Play-by-play broadcasting in the minors is not for the weak of heart, mind or spirit. If you’re with a team, you’re traveling a lot, the pay is modest, you are paying you are paying your dues to pursue your dream and it requires a deep commitment. Even then you may not get the call. Wayne was there a time where you were ready to cash in your chips for a 9-to-5 job?
Randazzo: It’s a good question. It certainly does cross your mind. I mentioned Goldschmidt being in Mobile and when he came to Mobile, he was kind of a fringe prospect … Goldschmidt came to us in April to start the year and by August he was in the big leagues. He was incredible. You can’t do that as a broadcaster. I can’t have the year of my life and then get called up. I could have the year of my life, but it won’t mean anything, really. I don’t have the luxury of just showing off in front of a bunch of scouts. It’s tough to make it a meritocracy when you’re broadcasting in the minor leagues.
Randazzo: My last year in Mobile was 2011 and I networked a lot with the score in Chicago and was putting myself in a position to get a job there. And I guess that was my way of saying, you know, I’m ready to still stay in broadcasting, but maybe kind of refocused what I was going to do. I ended up doing a bunch of White Sox pre and postgame shows, but my last year of in Mobile I was really bummed out. We had a tough road trip I started thinking about what would be next. The next day I talked to my dad. I was like, ‘I don’t know about all this.’ The next day I got a call to do a game for the Big 10 network. That kind of reset me. That’s a big deal and that’s a good opportunity and my first real TV game. So it kept me focused to a little longer … but I didn’t have any doubts about what I wanted to do for a living.