NEW YORK — Prior to their series finale against the D-backs on Sunday, the Mets dedicated the Citi Field press box in honor of Jay Horwitz, the director of the team’s media relations department from 1980-2018. Horwitz also threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike to former New York closer John Franco.
The main ceremony took place in the press box, which will now bear Horwitz’s name, and was attended by Mets owner Steve Cohen, team president Sandy Alderson and several former Major Leaguers, including Ron Darling, Mookie Wilson and Franco.
When Horwitz started in 1980, the Mets were one of the worst teams in the Majors. By 1986, they were World Series champions. Horwitz saw players come and go, from Darryl Strawberry to David Wright, and all the while he remained the one constant at Shea Stadium and then Citi Field.
Horwitz currently runs the organization’s alumni program. He admitted he never worked in baseball for money; he did it for the friendships and the memories he collected over the years.
“I have a viable job,” Horwitz said. “It’s good to be part of things at my age. I’ll be 77 in August. It’s good that you make a difference with what you do.”
New York is notoriously a tough media market, and still Horwitz lasted with the Mets for more than 40 years. What was his secret to lasting so long in baseball media relations?
“Not to lie,” Horwitz said. “You don’t have to [tell everything]. Just treat the 25th guy on the team like the No. 1 guy on the team — You treat everybody the same. You treat everybody the same, you come out well. That’s why I try not to show favorites.
“I don’t think I consciously leaked anything in my 40-plus years on the job. I went about it the right way. You have to have the players’ trust, the owners’ [and] the media’s [trust].”
Franco is one of those who has trusted Horwitz since he joined the Mets as a reliever in 1990. Franco has been retired from the game since 2005 and he still calls Horwitz at least twice a week to check on him.
“He means the world to me,” Franco said. “He is a dear friend. For the 15 years I played here, and the other 17 since I’ve been retired — from day one, we have hit it off. He is a guy that cares so much about the organization. He cares about the players. He has such a big heart. It means the world to me to see him recognized.”
How many more years does Horwitz have left in the baseball business?
“Not another 42, I can tell you that,” Horwitz said. “I like what I’m doing, so I take it day by day.”