The voices Howie Rose heard in the summers of his youth fueled his passion to become a broadcaster for the Mets.
Ralph Kiner, Lindsay Nelson and Bob Murphy were mentors way before Rose met them. "I remember playing a stickball game and announcing it at the same time,'' Rose said. "You'd think there'd be a radio on in the background.''
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Kiner made the Hall of Fame with his bat, Nelson and Murphy with their voices. Perhaps Rose is on the same track. He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies Sunday at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack. If Rose makes it to Cooperstown, he will join a fellow member of the NJSHF: Sandy Koufax.
When the Mets arrived at Shea Stadium in 1964, Rose, who lived in Bayside, became obsessed. "I was narcissistic enough to think they were created as a gift for me. 'Here's your own team, kid,' '' he said. "Obviously, I sort of adopted them. Maybe there is some poetic symmetry to what I'm doing now.''
When he and his friends went to Shea and the Mets won, Rose recalled one of his chums yelling, "Put it in the books!'' It became Rose's signature line.
Rose, who lives in Woodbury, also calls Islanders games on TV but is famously known for calling Stephane Matteau's winning goal in the second overtime for the Rangers against the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals during the 1994 run to the Stanley Cup.
"I'm amazed 18 years later at how the Matteau call has endured,'' Rose said. "There are very few days when I'm in a public setting where somebody doesn't yell out 'Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!' "
Rose, 58, also thanked Marv Albert for being an early mentor.
Rose found himself well positioned to become a Mets broadcaster when country music station WHN, which employed him as its sports director, morphed into WFAN 25 years ago. Rose also had announced the Mets on SportsChannel but was enamored of radio. When Murphy retired after the 2003 season, Rose entered the booth full-time with Gary Cohen.
Rose has the job he coveted since childhood. "This is overwhelming to me when people stop me and say you are to this generation what Bob Murphy was to ours,'' Rose said. "That stuff just about knocks me over. I was that kid who was greatly infused by all three of the original Mets announcers . . . It's an enormous responsibility to take this blank canvas and, as Murph used to say, paint the word picture with images that the more you do it, you realize this has endless potential for detailed description. You can never describe enough. That's why I love radio and that's why it has to endure forever. It does what no other medium can, which is give you the ability to imagine and realize at the same time.''