COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Considering that Tim McCarver played major league baseball for 21 years and won two World Series, it really says something when he reflects this way, as he did on his 16 seasons in the Mets TV booth: "That was the most exciting time in my professional life."
McCarver the broadcaster and the Mets as a franchise both hit their strides in the 1980s, when the latter won the 1986 World Series and the former gained stature that led to him being honored Saturday at the Hall of Fame with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting.
The former catcher has called network games for three decades and has worked on telecasts for other teams, including the Yankees, but his signature years were in Queens.
"I arrived in 1983 and they were a bad team," he said, adding that it was a pivotal year, with the promotion of Darryl Strawberry from the minors and the acquisition of Keith Hernandez from the Cardinals (general manager Frank Cashen conferred with McCarver before the latter deal and the announcer said Hernandez was the best fielding first baseman he had ever seen).
"Doc Gooden was in the process of striking out 300 in 190 innings at Lynchburg," McCarver said, alluding to the results of those developments. "Believe me, that team owned that town for about 10 years. And I mean owned that town. It was a very, very exciting time for New York baseball fans who were waiting for the consistency of play from the Mets."
Plus, it was a joy to go to work every day with Ralph Kiner. It was fun even -- or especially -- when Kiner mispronounced his name, like the time he called his partner "Tim MacArthur." The latter joked that he must have been thinking about Gen. Douglas MacArthur. At the end of that game, a big Mets loss, McCarver recalled that the general was famous for having said "chance favors a prepared man." Retelling the story Saturday, McCarver added, "And Ralph said, 'Douglas MacArthur also said 'I shall return,' and we'll be right back after this.' "