Todd Zeile played for nearly a dozen major league teams in 16 seasons, so it is natural to wonder if he feels connected to any one of them in particular.
He said his three seasons with the Mets had special meaning, then and now.
“Because I played for 11 teams, I never really solidified an identity with one specific team,” he said. “But having said that, the significance of my time with the Mets really stood out for me at the time, and after my career.”
That fact has added relevance, given his new job as lead studio analyst for SNY’s Mets coverage, starting Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with “Mets Hot Stove” shows from Florida alongside studio host Gary Apple.
“Having made the decision to come there in 2000, playing in a World Series, New York-New York, was amazing,” he said. “It really allowed me to embrace the city and the culture of the fans of New York and of the Mets.
“Then being there for 9/11 and all the experiences we went through, really being front and center in the relief effort with my teammates and becoming bonded with some of the rescue workers, made that a really significant, special time.”
Then came 2004. After playing for the Rockies, Yankees and Expos in 2002 and ’03, Zeile returned to the Mets for one last season.
“They brought me back with a warm welcome and I had the opportunity to say farewell to the game and walk away on my own terms, which is something that I’ll forever be grateful to the Mets for,” he said.
“And the icing on the cake was getting to catch my final game [on Oct. 3 against the Expos], homering in my final at-bat, and more importantly, catching Johnny Franco’s final out as a New York Met pitcher. That was the most special.”
He crammed a lot of memories into three seasons, so much so that one of his challenges is to learn to stop calling the Mets “we” on TV, generally a no-no even on local, team-centric channels.
Zeile, 53, did it twice in a 15-minute phone interview but corrected himself both times.
He first appeared on SNY for the 2006 postseason, during which executive producer Curt Gowdy Jr. saw potential. “He was extremely knowledgeable, but he was raw,” Gowdy said.
The two remained in contact as Zeile got into the film and television business, and later other ventures. (He said he cannot go into detail on his most recent business. “I’ve been involved in sports again in sort of changing the landscape of sports video gaming as we all know it,” he said. “Stay tuned on that.”)
He did some acting in the years after retiring from baseball and was an executive producer of the FX series “Anger Management" from 2012-14.
He is not the only actor in the family. His daughter, Hannah, 21, plays the teenaged version of the character Kate Pearson on the hit NBC show, “This Is Us.”
“I’m really proud of her, because quite honestly, that was coming off a challenging time in all of our lives following a divorce [from Olympic gold medal gymnast Julianne McNamara] and a split, and my time being split back in New York City and Hannah having to really stand up on her own two feet and really kind of push forward on her own.
“She really was the catalyst to getting back into auditioning and right away gain traction with her first couple of auditions. Then she landed ‘This is Us,’ and it’s been amazing, a life-changing experience for her, and honestly, I sit on the sidelines and watch and am really happy and proud of her.”
As business brought him more and more to the East Coast, Zeile began appearing on SNY, doing select games the past three seasons and appearing on “Baseball Night in New York.”
After last season, SNY made him the primary studio analyst, succeeding Nelson Figueroa, who will remain with the network, including as a contributor to “Baseball Night in New York.”
“I think what Todd really brings to us is that he’s a multi-dimensional talent,” Gowdy said. “He’s versatile, he has a great confidence about himself. He’s very camera-friendly and he’s got this easygoing personality . . . He’s very relatable and very likable for a guy who’s had an illustrious career.”
Even if only a sliver of it was with the Mets, he considers himself back home.
“I feel connected and appreciative to the organization, top to bottom,” he said. “They've been like a family for me. So there is a great feeling of pride and ownership of that Mets experience and putting on that Met uniform.
“At the same time, if you’ve ever known me as a player, no matter which team I was playing with, and asked me a question, whether cutting or difficult or challenging or a softball, I tried my best to be as transparent and honest as I know how to be. That’s the way I was raised. That is hopefully the perspective I bring to the broadcast.”