Keith Hernandez Whitey Herzog SNY Screengrab: SNY

A day after paying tribute to John Sterling, who announced his retirement from the broadcast booth on Monday, the SNY booth reflected on the life and illustrious baseball career of longtime St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, who passed away on Tuesday. He was 92.

While he’s well known for his commentary as an analyst on Mets broadcasts, Keith Hernandez played under Herzog for many seasons (1974-83) in St. Louis. It was with the Cardinals that Hernandez won the National League MVP in ’79 and would later help St. Louis capture its first World Championship since 1967.

However, in June 1983, Herzog traded Hernandez to the Mets for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. In doing so, the longtime St. Louis Cardinals manager expressed his belief that Hernandez was a negative influence on the team and maintained that he made the right decision by trading him.

Herzog’s connection to the Mets runs deeper, though.

And Mets play-by-play voice Gary Cohen believes two of the franchise’s biggest mistakes, besides trading Tom Seaver, were letting Herzog slip away and twice overlooking him for promotions.

This all unfolded after the passing of General Manager Johnny Murphy, who assembled the 1969 World Series champions in January 1970. Herzog, then the Farm Director, was passed over for the GM position. Tragedy struck again before the 1972 season with the passing of manager Gil Hodges. Despite being the “obvious choice,” according to Cohen, Herzog was again bypassed. These missed opportunities led Herzog to leave the Mets and eventually forge a successful managerial career elsewhere.

“You can only imagine how Mets history would’ve changed had the powers that be — and (Chairman) Donald Grant, in particular — not made the decision to twice pass over Whitey Herzog for positions of authority,” said Cohen.

This ultimately led Herzog to St. Louis, where his impact was undeniable. Just ask one of his former players.

“Hall of Famer and deservedly so…From Day 1 in spring training, we knew who was in charge,” said Hernandez. “And he really taught us and insisted on fundamentals and the little things that win ball games — defense, base running, everything. He basically taught us how to win. There were a bunch of young players there that needed some direction, and he provided it. He was a manager you were never going to beat on the field; I think (Ron Darling) would agree with that. And he was the architect for those 80s (Cardinals), which I was a part of. His only championship was ’82 — I was a part of that team. But he basically put that club together around Astroturf, the big, old Busch Stadium, speed, defense, pitching.”

“Whitey ball, it’s almost — it’s so hard to even describe how hard it was to compete against that team,” added Darling.

With their unmatched knowledge of the game, the SNY crew offered another insightful tribute.

[Awful Announcing on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.