Longtime New York Mets PR boss Jay Horwitz moves to new role

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets are transferring longtime media relations boss Jay Horwitz to a new role as vice president of alumni public relations and team historian.

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon announced Horwitz's job change Wednesday at a news conference that was more of a roast by former players, coaches and executives. Horwitz has been with the team for nearly 40 years, and figures from throughout his tenure attended.

Among them: Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Keith Hernandez, John Franco, Joe Torre, Terry Collins, Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya. A number of current Mets also attended, including captain David Wright.

Horwitz will work in his new role to aid in next season's 50-year anniversary celebration of the Mets' 1969 World Series championship, and on further connecting the club's alumni.

Horwitz, 73, has been beloved by players for his bumbling but loyal personality.

Horwitz recalled how he spilled a can of orange juice on general manager Frank Cashen during his job interview in 1980 but got the job anyway. He was then late to his first day of work, mistakenly commuting to Brooklyn instead of Queens, where Shea Stadium is located.

Horwitz has often been a subject of clubhouse pranks. Wright admitted to repeatedly rubbing eye black on Horwitz's binoculars. Franco said he used to cut off Horwitz's ties in his sleep. Horwitz even said players once "made a No. 2 in my bed" on the road.

"The older guys taught me, if they don't like you, they won't screw around with you," Horwitz said.

Players also tried to set up Horwitz on dates during road trips. Some were more successful than others -- he claimed to break out in hives after the team brought a stripper to the Wrigley Field clubhouse for his birthday years ago.

Wright also said Horwitz was instrumental in helping him establish a good relationship with the New York media, and Franco praised Horwitz for his loyalty.

"He would fight for the players," Franco said. He later choked up when adding "I love you, man. Thank you."

Horwitz's first assistant with the Mets, Tim Hamilton, died Wednesday. Hamilton predated Horwitz with New York, and Horwitz told The Associated Press that Hamilton was a "great guy" who helped acclimate him to life at Shea Stadium. Hamilton's ex-wife, Lorraine Hamilton, is still the Mets' executive director of broadcasting and events.