I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Mets radio announcer Josh Lewin to talk about his career as well as the Mets. Lewin grew up in Rochester, New York a Mets fan, something he has mentioned on many occasions. He graduated from Northwestern University and got his first professional broadcasting gig with the Rochester Red Wings.
He first started working in Major League Baseball when he called Baltimore Orioles games on the radio in 1995 and 1996. He was then briefly the Chicago Cubs’ TV announcer before doing the same job for the Detroit Tigers from ’98 to 2001. Lewin was then the TV voice for the Texas Rangers from 2002-2010 before succeeding Wayne Hagin as Howie Rose’s partner as a radio announcer for the Mets in 2012. He has shared air time with Howie ever since.
Josh was kind and courteous, taking the time to thoroughly answer my questions. His responses were as succinct yet colorful as his calls on the radio. His well-rounded knowledge of pretty much everything, which he talks about in the interview, made for great discussion as well as great references to old comedies like Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Enjoy the interview:
Logan: First of all, thank you so much for doing this interview, I really appreciate it.
Logan: So let’s start in the beginning. You grew up in Rochester and you’ve said many times that you grew up a Mets fan. Who were some of your favorite players when you were growing up?
Josh: I was kind of an early 80s guy when I first picked up the Mets so basically guys that were not real good other than like Rusty Staub who I liked a lot. Guys like Willie Montanez who didn’t really pan out to be that much but obviously when they won in ’86 I liked ’em all, you know I liked Keith, I liked Teufel, I liked Wally Backman, all the pitchers.
Logan: So how about some of your more recent favorites?
Josh: It’s funny, the closer you get to them you kind of try to separate out, I mean keep kind of a professional distance so I mean I love the way Conforto plays and I think he’s a great kid, Syndergaard fan, but I try not to get too fanboy about any of that.
Logan: You’ve been doing this for a long time, you’ve been a baseball fan a long time… How do you separate the memories into broadcasting memories and memories as a fan? Do you try to separate them?
Josh: That’s a really good question. I think actually any time I’ve got a headset on my head it just feels like it’s a work day and that’s a broadcast memory, and anything that happens when I’m off the clock is a fan memory. Most of my good fan memories are for teams I never broadcasted. I grew up a Buffalo Bills fan, but I worked for the Chargers who I have a lot of good memories with but they’re all broadcast memories and all my Bills memories are as a fan.
Logan: So what was it like, as a fan or a broadcaster, being part of the Mets World Series run in 2015?
Josh: That was really fun, just feeding off the fever that all the fans had and that’s why I went into this, I love being the town crier, being the Paul Revere on the horse, let people know what’s going on, whatever it is they care about and they care deeply about the Mets and I take that as a real responsibility, a sacred responsibility. These are people, you know everybody’s free time is guarded, you only have so many hours in a day and here are all these people that are giving three, four, five hours every day to “what are the Mets up to? What are they doing? How are they doing?” The least I can do is give enough of a crap to make sure they have everything that they need.
Logan: Besides that World Series run, what are some of the most memorable Mets moments you’ve been a part of since you joined the booth in 2012?
Josh: A lot of them do tie into that year  because they were winning in so many unlikely ways all the time. Frankly I’ve only been here- I guess it’s six years now so a lot of my memories pitch to places I’ve been longer, you know Chargers have been 13 years and I was with the Texas Rangers for 10, but you know my first year here, even though it didn’t go great for the team, I was just so awed to be around it. Every day it was just so exciting so a lot of my memories from that pretty random year, Ike Davis and guys like that, Justin Turner was still here, just kind of being around it for the first time was really cool.
Logan: You actually called Jose Reyes‘ first Major League hit while you were broadcasting for the Rangers. Like you said a lot of your best memories came from before you were here, what are some of your favorite baseball memories from when you were broadcasting for the Orioles, the Tigers, the Cubs?
Josh: The Tigers, when they closed down Tiger Stadium and opened up Comerica, those were two pretty cool things. I was in Baltimore when Cal Ripken broke the Iron Man streak, that was certainly memorable and something that will never be recreated you know so much of that was just organic and made for such a fun summer. I’ve had some good luck with football, too, not recently but the Chargers for a while were a playoff team and they were going deep into the playoffs and that was fun too.
Logan: How do you prepare yourself for broadcasts? What’s your process?
Josh: I try to get as much done during the offseason as I can, to gather all the anecdotal stuff that’s going to come up during the season. “Who is Tyler Pill who’s made his first big league start the other night?” You kind of study for what you think’s going to be on the exam. There is no reason on January 19th or so that I can’t just go and do a lot of research on his backstory to talk intelligently about who he is, what he throws, all that. Then, indeed the other night he made his first big league start so I’ll go back and look over his recent box scores, talk to some people that have maybe played with him or faced him and just get a sense of who he is and what he is, find out if his parents are going to be here, all that stuff. Fill in the colors.
I try to get as much done out of the season so that today from like noon to two I’ll lay out the basic format for what I think will come up in the game and then shower and dress to be here by three, and three to 4:30 is time to just take everybody’s temperature, walk around and see what the stories are. Then 4:30 to six is time to get all my notes together, your scorecard, everything is on a single piece of paper ready to go – your cheat sheet. 6:00 is dinner, try to catch up with some people, talk to Ronnie, talk to Kieth, talk to the other team’s announcers find out what’s going on with them, and showtime is quarter of seven. Like you know, if it’s fun it’s not work, so I’m technically kind of on the clock from noon to often 10:30, six days out of seven doing that. It’s very light work it’s not like I’m moving boxes or curing cancer or anything like that. This is stuff I enjoy doing but you have to take it seriously.
Logan: I’m sure this is not part of your planning process, but you make a lot of on-air references to old movies like Airplane! and all the Mel Brooks movies, my favorites —
Josh: Yeah, I think it’s important to be, and not that movies are where I’m going with this, but just being well-rounded so that you’re not just “baseball boy.” I think the really successful announcers, the ones more successful than me, Bob Costas, Al Michaels, guys like that they’re so well-rounded that they can talk about myriad subjects – 20, 30, 40 different subjects and have a working rudimentary knowledge of everything so that, and the example I always use is from before you were born probably, the earthquake of the ’89 World Series hit and all of a sudden Al Michaels went from being baseball boy to covering a major news event and you never would have known that he wasn’t an ABC News man. He knew enough about earthquakes and what it was but he knew what the bridges were and he knew the geography – He knew a lot. He carried the ABC broadcast for days and that had nothing to do with his baseball knowledge it’s just that he happened to be well-read enough about the history of earthquakes in the Bay Area so I tell people that all the time: Be watching Breaking Bad, be watching PBS, watch a funny movie watch a sad movie go see some Shakespeare, there’s nothing that you shouldn’t have in your wheelhouse just to draw from.
Logan: I mentioned those old movies, Airplane! and such, those are all my favorite movies. What are some of your favorites?
Josh: Anything that’s a little off-beat and makes you laugh, I like. Pretty much anything with Will Ferrell in it probably has a chance, the old Mel Brooks stuff, slapstick but not dumb. I like stuff that makes you think, I love wordplay, so yeah Airplane! is like the perfect example of that because it’s horrible pun after horrible pun.
Logan: Alright, lightning round! Favorite food at Citi Field?
Josh: The Arancini balls, whatever those are called. The ones with all kinds of crap inside of some sort of… What do you call that? Is that a rice ball? Is that what it is? Assorted crap inside of a rice ball, that’s my favorite.
Joe D: Dude, it’s a freaking Italian rice ball!!!
Logan: What do you get on your hot dog?
Josh: Usually just relish and sometimes a little bit of mustard.
Logan: President’s race in D.C. or sausage race in Milwaukee?
Josh: Sausage race, I like the original.
Logan: Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?
Josh: (Laughs) No and I’ve got about five more I could come back with but no on all of them!
Logan: Favorite place to sit at a baseball game?
Josh: Broadcast booth! I’m just used to that.
Logan: Favorite baseball movie?
Josh: (Laughs) Does The Naked Gun count? There’s that baseball scene in it.
Logan: I’ll count it!
Josh: Major League if not The Naked Gun.
Logan: Favorite stadium other than Citi Field?
Josh: You can give me Fenway or Wrigley if I’m feeling nostalgic, or you can give me Seattle or San Francisco if I want some WiFi.
Logan: If you weren’t a broadcaster what would you be?
Josh: I’d play at a piano bar for tips in a very dark restaurant somewhere.
Logan: If you could sit down at dinner with one baseball player, past or present, who would it be?
Josh: Ooh boy, one baseball player past or present… I’ve gotten to know some of these guys in the present so it would probably have to be someone from way back… As much as I’ve heard people talk about Roberto Clemente that might be… I mean I would have picked Frank Robinson but I’ve had dinner with Frank Robinson and it’s amazing. I just love people who changed the game a little bit and have something to say so having never met Clemente and knowing it’d never happen obviously now, that might be my pick.
Logan: Lastly, was there ever a call that you made that you wish you’d done differently?
Josh: Oh every night! Oh yeah, yeah. That’s the best thing about this business, the horrifying scary thing about this business is that there’s no delete button. There’s no pencil eraser, once it’s out there it’s out there. There are countless times I’ll be on the 7 going home or driving home in my car or whatever transportation it is where the perfect line comes to you like an hour and a half later and you’re like “Ugh! God, I had it! It was right there and I didn’t have it!” But you can’t second guess, you just have to prepare yourself best you can.
Logan: Josh, thank you so much.
Josh: My pleasure!
Joe D: Logan, you did a nice job, kid…