On Saturday night, Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were honored with the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award presented annually by the New York Baseball Writers Association to a group of players, or a specific team, forever linked in baseball history.
Known around the baseball world as the Mets booth, GKR are celebrating 17 years working alongside one another, tying a former Mets broadcasting trio of Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner who announced Mets games together from their expansion season of 1962 until 1979.
“To me it’s the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award but it could easily the Lindsey, Bob and Ralph Award because Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner were the original voices of the Mets,” Cohen said. “And in some form or fashion we’ve tried to fill their shoes for the last 17 years.”
Although not teammates on the field, GKR have been teammates in the booth since 2006 and have become one of the greatest booths in baseball, filling in the shoes of Nelson, Murphy and Kiner quite nicely.
“We never dreamed, I don’t think, when we started this in 2006 that we would be here today tied with them,” Hernandez said. “It’s just such a great honor with the longevity being together, it’s such a great honor.”
Darling added: “It started out, not all of us knew exactly what we were doing so we kind of grew together and I think 17 years later, and I always say this and I’m not trying to age these guys, but I never had a big brother and these guys are my big brothers.”
Just as Darling considers his counterparts as family, millions of Mets fans all over the world feel a similar connection to the Mets booth that they’ve watched, listened to and allowed in their homes for all these years.
However, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, particularly in the beginning.
“We were all in the dark when we started and if you’re in a dark room and you can’t see, you reach out for a hand to hold and we’ve been holding each others hands for 17 years and it’s worked out okay,” Cohen said.
Now, after all of their accomplishments, the trio will be “forever linked in baseball history” just as the award describes.
It’s also been a busy start to the year for Cohen who, along with this award, was selected to the Mets Hall of Fame earlier this month, an honor long overdue for the voice of the Mets and a fan of the team since he was six years old.
“We’re very fortunate to have Gary play-by-play,” Hernandez said. “Ron and I are not the professionals. We were professional baseball players. He’s the maestro, Gary, and he’s the one that has to bring us into the broadcast and if we go out of our lane a little bit, he has to get the old fishing rod out there and reel us back in.”
Even though Cohen never donned a Mets jersey, Darling compared him to a great manager with how he works alongside the two former players.
“I don’t think Gary could get a slash line high enough to hang out with us on the field,” Darling said with a laugh. “But how I feel about Gary is he’s just the manager, he’s like being amongst one of the greatest managers you could ever be around.”