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Noteworthy graduates: Howie Rose, sports broadcaster

New York Teacher

When the New York Mets won the National League championship on Oct. 21, 2015 for the first time in 15 years, the iconic voice of Howie Rose captured the ecstatic moment for radio listeners everywhere. “Put it in the books!” Rose cried, employing his signature phrase. “The New York Mets have won the National League pennant!”

“I used to say those words playfully at stickball games at age 12,” he recalls. “To say those words on the air into a live mike gave me chills. It was the confluence of any number of dreams that were all realized at that moment, and that’s something that’s almost impossible to describe.”

Rose, 62, calls radio broadcasts for the Mets on WOR and televised games for the New York Islanders hockey team on MSG Plus. His job, he says, is nothing less than a dream come true for a Queens kid who used to bring along his own tape player to Madison Square Garden to practice doing play-by-play from the last row during New York Ranger games. “Every single night when that light goes on and we’re on the air,” says Rose, “that’s when I feel like this is my time, where I’m meant to be.”

I was born in the Bronx and attended school there through 2nd grade. I was always in what they called IGC classes, for “intellectually gifted children.”

When I was 8 years old, we moved to Bayside, Queens, and everything changed. I told friends I had moved to the country. There was grass and trees and parks all around, and no one thought I was a genius anymore because I was always out playing ball! School became more of a chore because I was busy enjoying the beginnings of a social life, but I wouldn’t have traded that for anything.

In an era when there was no such thing as a play date and no cell phones, you’d just go and knock on someone’s door and get a game going or listen to the latest Beatles record. It was a beautiful, crime-free, safe environment, as idyllic a setting for a childhood as I can imagine.

I always enjoyed teachers who had personality, who weren’t by the book, staid, stoic and bland. My all-time favorite teachers were Paul Freda (English) and Peter Drew (social studies) at Benjamin Cardozo HS. They were the two most provocative teachers I had. Nothing was off the table in their classes, whether it was political, cultural or even using the occasional curse word. What student doesn’t want to be taken in by a teacher with charisma who understands what makes students tick?

Sports interfered with school, and I let them. I regret that. When I talk to students now, I acknowledge that I was lucky I knew where I wanted to go, but it came at a price and I didn’t get everything out of school that I should have. In the fall of 1969, the Mets, out of seemingly nowhere, were on their way to winning the World Series. I was completely preoccupied and put school on the shelf until the World Series was over. All I cared about was the Mets.

What that did scholastically almost ruined me. Tenth-grade geometry got the brunt of it. I don’t think I passed a test all year. There are no words that scare a kid more than “summer school,” and I was looking it right in the eyes. My teacher, Michael Banner, said if I just passed either the final or the Regents, he’d pass me for the year. I busted my butt and actually got an 87 on the Regents, by far the highlight of my whole scholastic career. He was so genuinely happy for me. When a teacher does that and really appreciates the work you put in, it sticks with you.

I was a big, big Ranger fan, and so was my best friend, Rob. We had talked about getting season tickets together, and his math teacher, Paul Volte, said, “I’ll go in with you guys on the tickets and drive you to the games.” We were juniors in high school and we were going to have season tickets with a teacher! Mr. Volte also offered to teach us how to play golf but we weren’t interested. We were kids from Bayside, and kids from Bayside didn’t play golf; we played stickball and baseball. Now here I am, 62 years old and a golf beginner, and what I wouldn’t give now to have taken him up on it. Paul, if you’re out there somewhere, I could use those golf lessons now.

— As told to reporter Rachel Nobel

Related Topics: Noteworthy Grads
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