Anthony Recker had a modest career as a major-league catcher, playing for four teams from 2011-17 and finishing with a .199 batting average, 18 home runs and 70 RBIs in 206 games.
But ask him to identify the highlight of that journey and he does not hesitate.
“It’s very easy for me,” he said. “It would definitely be the ’15 season in its entirety.”
That was his third and final season with the Mets, who reached the World Series that autumn. It was an experience that not only stuck with him as a baseball adventure but also helps inform his new career path.
On Monday, he will start as a regular contributor to SNY’s “Baseball Night in New York” program and will appear on various other shows and platforms for the network during the coming season.
Although he grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, his time with the Mets gave him an understanding of the landscape.
“I know the territory a little bit, I know the fans, I know the organization,” he said. “Having played there definitely gives me an inside track of what’s going on. I understand the clubhouse. I know what it looks like. I know some of the guys that are still in there.”
In 2015, he shared with some of those holdovers a special season, even if Recker was a bit player who finished with two home runs, five RBIs and a batting average of .125.
“It wasn’t great for me; I had my worst year as a professional baseball player,” he said. “But as a team, it was just really, really fun to be a part of that. I wish I could have contributed more.”
Recker recalled a day in Florida that February when he came home to his wife and said: “This is going to be a fun year. We’ve got talent and we’ve got the right environment. We’ve got the right group of guys.’ I felt it that early. You could tell something was special.
“Sure enough, the season played out how it did, and those last two months of the regular season were easily for me the best two months of my professional career.”
Recker, 36, said that while he was with the Mets, he was told by people at SNY that he might be a good fit for TV after his playing days.
There was some talk about him making the move after the 2017 season, but he signed with the Diamondbacks for 2018 and spent that year in the minor leagues.
“We ended up not doing it then, but we kept in touch and after ’18, when they had the David Wright send-off and everything, it made sense for them and me to try it out and see what happened,” he said. “I did a few shows then and things seemed to go really well.”
Just as catchers traditionally are said to make good managers, Recker believes that they make good TV analysts.
“We understand what it takes,” he said. “We were hitters. We understand the pitching aspect. We understand how to attack hitters. We understand defensive alignments. We understand a lot of the things going on in baseball, especially nowadays how it’s gotten a little more cerebral.
“You’ve got the analytics stuff and some of these numbers that are being tossed around. I understand how to take those numbers and portray them in a way that the players and the fans will be able to understand them.”
Recker cited the example of former Cubs catcher David Ross, who won a World Series in 2016, then retired and joined ESPN. Now he’s the Cubs’ new manager.
That sort of path is far down the road for Recker, who for now is happy to get a foot in the TV door. Doing so in New York is a bonus.
“I was always treated very, very well there, so I have nothing but good things to say about New York fans and my experience there,” he said. “So from that perspective, it definitely helps me kind of relate to the fans and be able to relay information to them, because I feel like I understand what they’re looking for, what they want to hear.
“But I’m not just going to give them what they want to hear. I’m going to try to give them insights and see some things they wouldn’t necessarily have at their fingertips.”
As for the team itself, Recker said: “I think there is still work that the team wants to do and still work the team needs to do. I think there is a lack of depth right now throughout the organization, and I’m not just talking about the big-league level.”
He said he has heard good things about new manager Carlos Beltran.
“Everything I’ve heard from the people who know him, David Wright and some of the other sources I have who played with him or were associated with him on some level, they really like the guy,” Recker said. “They think he’s a baseball person. He’s an amazing guy. He loves the game to death. He was a mentor to a lot of people, including David himself.”
Recker added, “I myself maybe would have gone in a different direction, but this is the type of guy that they were looking for, the type of guy who has been in New York, knows New York, understands what it takes to win there — understands what it takes to win, period.”