Bill Webb, the lead television director for Mets games for nearly four decades and an iconic figure in sports media, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
Webb, who was 70, had tried to work through his illness over the past two years, both for SNY and Fox, but he was forced to miss a number of Mets games, as well as the past two World Series. He worked 17 World Series overall.
He was inducted in November into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, which honored him for helping create the look of modern baseball telecasts, marked by quick cuts, player close-ups and crowd reaction shots.
“There is not any one person more responsible for the look and feel of Major League Baseball on Fox than Bill Webb,” Joe Buck said in 2015. “He is at the top of the list.”
Webb was a natural choice to direct Mets games for SNY when it began carrying them in 2006, and along with producer Gregg Picker and announcers Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, he remained on the job for SNY’s first 11 Mets seasons.
“Today we lost an industry icon and a member of the SNY family with the passing of Bill Webb,” the network said in a statement. “Bill was instrumental in establishing SNY’s Mets telecasts as the premier local broadcast in Major League Baseball, bringing unmatched talent, leadership and a national sensibility to our live game coverage.
“His unique style and vision transformed not only baseball, but all live sports telecasts. We are deeply saddened by his loss.”
Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said: “Today is a painfully sad day for everyone at Fox Sports. Bill Webb was a pioneer in sports broadcast television, and no one is more part of the fabric of Fox Sports’ baseball family than Webby. Our hearts go out to Bill’s entire family, including his wife, Cyndi, and children Matt, Erin and Samantha.”
Webb began working at WOR in 1969 and took over as lead Mets director in 1979. He came to be known as the most influential director in the era after Harry Coyle established the look of baseball broadcasts in sports television’s early decades.
“It’s my job to put those people at home in the best seat in the ballpark,” Webb said in an interview with Sports Video Group before his Hall of Fame induction, “not in the cheap seats.”