NEW YORK (AP) — In nearly four decades as the head public relations man for the New York Mets, Jay Horwitz saw plenty.
The rise and fall of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. A World Series crown. A spring training scuffle. The Sidd Finch prank. Shea Stadium turned into a staging area for Ground Zero recovery efforts after 9/11.
What many people around the Mets all those years didn’t know was how the omnipresent Horwitz saw it: with a glass right eye.
Diagnosed with glaucoma soon after he was born, Horwitz was blind on that side.
“Something I’ve never made public before,” Horwitz wrote in his recently released memoir published by Triumph Books.
“Mr. Met: How a Sports-Mad Kid from Jersey Became Like Family to Generations of Big Leaguers,” with a foreward by Mets two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, covers plenty of All-Stars who played for New York: Tom Seaver, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and David Wright, among them.
Horwitz, who turns 75 next month, recounts his own path to Queens, starting with challenging days as a young boy.
“I had a hard time as a child. I wasn’t like the other kids in grammar school, and they made sure I never forgot I was different. I was subjected to constant staring and ribbing,” he wrote.
Horwitz had his right eye removed in sixth grade.
“The taunting and ridicule still hurt, but not quite as much as before, and over time I grew to accept the teasing as a part of growing up,” he wrote.
“Being born with one eye made me a better person, I think. Being born with a disability -- and having to work to overcome it -- gave me a different perspective on life and on other people. I’ve always tended to gravitate more to people who are disabled, or otherwise feel singled out for kidding or mockery,” he said. “Just because you’re born with a disability doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead in life.”
It certainly didn’t halt Horwitz from a major league life, not that he got off to such a smooth start.
Horwitz said he was so nervous for his first meeting with Mets executive Frank Cashen in 1980 that he knocked a big container of orange juice into the lap of his future boss.
“Those white tennis shorts were no longer white. Nice start to a job interview,” Horwitz said.
And then “driving to work that day for my first day, I took a wrong turn on the Grand Central Parkway and wound up in Brooklyn,” he wrote.
Over the years, Horwitz settled in well. He stayed in his PR role until September 2018, when he became the team’s vice president of alumni relations and club historian. He led the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets.
Horwitz dedicates his final chapter to his longtime assistant, Shannon Dalton Forde, who died in 2016 at age 44 after a 3 1/2-year fight with breast cancer. Hired by Horwitz as an intern in 1994, she was the mother of two young children and beloved throughout Major League Baseball.
“To me, Shannon was like the daughter I never had. I loved every minute with her, and I couldn’t have been prouder of her for all that she accomplished,” Horwitz wrote.
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