Among the original voices in the first 24 hours of WFAN — the country’s first successful 24/7 all sports talk radio station, which debuted July 1, 1987 — longtime Scarsdale resident Ed Coleman outlasted them all.
After serving several hosting and update roles early on, Coleman eventually settled into the role of New York Mets beat reporter in 1993 and then pregame and postgame show host in 1997, roles he was beloved for by Mets fans for nearly half the team’s existence. When he decided to retire just days before the 2022 season in March, Coleman became the last of the original launching voices to have worked nonstop for WFAN to leave the station. For many in the business, and certainly for the Mets, it was the end of an era.
“There are times you miss it,” Coleman said. “There are also times when you look at your watch and it’s like 10 minutes of 11 and they’re in the seventh inning and I go, ‘No. I’m glad I’m here.’”
On May 28, the Mets honored Coleman pregame with a custom “Coleman” No. 5 jersey — in honor of David Wright, who sent in a video saying how much respect and admiration he has for Coleman. They also had the broadcaster throw out the first ceremonial pitch to another former Mets captain, John Franco.
“I was very appreciative of the Mets doing what they did,” Coleman said. “They didn’t have to do that and I was very surprised. I wasn’t expecting it and it was nice to go and see the guys and the people I had covered. I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye. I hadn’t been to spring training. It was more important to me to be able to get there and see a lot of the people at Citi Field: the security people, the ushers, people I had known for years [at] Citi Field and Shea Stadium. It was great to see the players as well. I think I talked to like 20 players that day and everyone said, ‘You’re throwing out the first pitch? Don’t bounce it.’ I put way too much air under it, but I didn’t bounce it.”
In addition to current players and Franco, front office pros like Jay Horwitz, Lorraine Hamilton and Sandy Alderson, who referred to Coleman as “iconic,” made sure to be there for him.
Injured list pitcher Jacob deGrom was there that day, a highlight for Coleman. “He’s one of my favorites,” Coleman said. “I was glad he was there.”
Coleman — better known to Mets fans as “Eddie C.” — sits among the pantheon of great voices calling games for the Mets, of which there have been many in the team’s 61-season history, including the early days of Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson; the middle years of Tim McCarver, Gary Thorne and Fran Healy and the more recent generation of Howie Rose, Kevin Burkhart, Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, with many of the generations having overlapped over the many decades.
Coleman’s inclusion is not too bad for a Boston Red Sox fan from Massachusetts who took a chance coming to the biggest market in the country on what wasn’t a sure thing with WFAN.
Murphy, Kiner and Nelson were the gold standard of broadcast teams from 1962-1980, when Nelson left, but Murphy and Kiner continued into the 2000s. Coleman appreciated being able to work with Murphy in the later years of the legend’s career.
“Murph was tremendous … Being around him and picking up what he did, the little nuances and even the catch phrases he had were great,” Coleman said.
Cohen, Hernandez and Darling — better known as Gary, Keith and Ron or GKR — have been together since the inception of SNY in 2006 under producer Gregg Picker, who grew up in Scarsdale, and they are, according to Coleman, “the best ever,” with Rose leading the way on radio with his partners over the years, Cohen, Tom McCarthy, Wayne Hagin, Josh Lewin and now Wayne Randazzo.
Between Cohen’s professionalism, clean calls and enthusiasm, Hernandez’s lack of “filter” — Coleman still calls him “Mex” — and Darling’s savvy to break down the game, and Rose’s charm and passion, Coleman puts his contemporaries on a pedestal.
“I think the world of that group [GKR] and I think the world of Howie,” Coleman said. “I still think Gary Cohen is the best radio play-by-play guy that I’ve ever heard.”
Coleman also got to work for four years as Cohen’s analyst on St. John’s men’s basketball games, a thrill for Coleman to be next to greatness. “Listening to him I knew when it was time for me to shut up,” Coleman said. “And I think that’s what he liked about me, too. I wasn’t going to jump in.”
Rose has known Coleman since WFAN launched. When Rose started doing Mets Extra, the team was coming off a World Championship season in 1986, so it was a different time those next few years with a change in the Mets’ “entire persona” and “image,” which “made for some tense moments.”
“I don’t think Eddie had to deal with that per se,” Rose told the Inquirer. “By the time Eddie took over after 1996 they were in the midst of a little rebuild that was just beginning to bear a little fruit and he was on board for a lot of good times. Because of that you develop an affinity for the fans and it made for a very easy transition.”
Rose said he always appreciated Coleman’s style of reporting what happened and moving on from there.
“It’s not about getting up on a soapbox and looking for a mistake every play,” Rose said. “Ed’s quite the opposite. He’s a forgiving person and is the same way as a broadcaster. Certain players appreciate that and I think the fans appreciate his honesty, too. He doesn’t bombard them or beat them over the head with negativity.”
Coleman’s personality worked for him on the air and off the air.
“You have to understand that this is a business that breeds ego and pomposity and Ed is the absolute opposite of that,” Rose said. “He’s earned the nickname ‘Easy Ed’ — as has everyone named Ed, it seems — but in Eddie Coleman’s case it really fits. He’s just the easiest, most enjoyable person to be around. Everybody liked him, and I’m talking people in uniform, too.”
Rose added, “He’s the best and he’s one of those few people who will walk into a room and you’ll see a whole lot of teeth because people smile when they see Eddie.”
Despite being a radio guy, Coleman was recognizable to fans everywhere he went — at home or on the road — and he always appreciated his interactions with Mets fans, and the jabs from colleagues who knew they would have to wait around for him while he mingled.
“I love talking to Mets fans because most of the time I have to talk them down off the freaking roof,” Coleman said. “Even when they’re doing well. It doesn’t matter. When they had a 10.5 game lead I think I put something out on Twitter saying not to worry about the team. They’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know it well, being a Red Sox fan. I’m always telling Mets fans it will be OK, though it was probably harder to believe that during the [Fred and Jeff] Wilpon years, but now you have an owner [Steve Cohen] who is going to do whatever it takes … I think Mets fans probably feel a little more secure in that.”
Scarsdale resident and die-hard Mets fan Dave Cannon has been listening to Coleman for 30 years and has enjoyed his “reporting and analysis” before and after games. “He was always honest, even and really insightful,” Cannon said. “He will definitely be missed.”
Spending three decades with a team also breeds a connection with the franchise.
“You have to be measured,” Coleman said. “I don’t think anybody is really a homer with the Mets. You listen to Howie, you listen to Gary; obviously they want the Mets to win. When you cover a team and you’re with them all the time you obviously want them to win, but that doesn’t mean you sit there and say, ‘We.’ That’s something people always look for. I always tried not to be like that in the way I covered them. You’re around a team eight or nine months and you root for the guys, moreso than the team. You hope the team does well, but you root for the guys because you do like a lot of them.”
Former Mets captain Wright, whose career was cut short due to spinal stenosis, was Coleman’s favorite over the years, not only for what he did on the field, but for how he conducted himself off the field. In that 2006-08 timespan when the Mets showed as much promise as any time in franchise history but didn’t get the job done, well before he was “The Captain,” Wright, despite being a young player, was the face and voice of the franchise, whereas veterans like Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado didn’t want that role.
“David was always there to pick up the slack for them,” Coleman said. “You end up standing around interminable amounts of time in the locker room. If there was a night David needed to speak he’d be out there and you waited because he never failed to do it. Some people you’d wait a long time and then they’d tell you they left. David would never do that. He would stay there forever and answer every question and cover for other people. I had a special amount of respect for him.
“I think that’s part of being a ballplayer. If you’re going to be paid a lot of money, part of your responsibility is to be there in good times and bad. You learn a lot about people that way. Some guys I used to think were standup guys ended up not being standup guys. You figure out the ones who are eventually.”
Stepping down prior to a season in which the team was on the verge of a breakout after a clutch offseason by the team’s front office wasn’t easy for Coleman.
“It was tough for me because I knew this team was going to be good,” he said. “I could just sense they had gotten the right people in and the type of baseball was going to change a little bit, so that was hard to step away from even though I knew I didn’t want to do it all season long and probably wouldn’t make it all season. Sandy had a lot to do with putting that in place and I’m confident they will be playing late into October.”
Coleman also would have enjoyed covering first-year Mets manager Buck Showalter, whom he had gotten to know when Showalter had managed both the Rangers and the Yankees. When Coleman filled in for a couple of games in Anaheim this season, he made sure to “corner” Showalter.
“I just wanted to tell him that one of the disappointments I had was not being able to do the manager’s show with him this year,” Coleman said. “I always respected him. I thought it was funny in the offseason when people were saying he’s too old. Buck will teach the analytics people things that they don’t know. He is that good. There isn’t anything that gets by him.”
Though he had some run-ins with manager Bobby Valentine during his tenure from 1996-2002 — and even got reamed out in front of the press core one day, which he said he “didn’t take it personally” — Coleman had a great amount of respect for most of the managers he covered, a list that included Dallas Green, Valentine, Art Howe, Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, Mickey Callaway and Luis Rojas.
“Terry Collins was always my favorite,” Coleman said. “There was no filter with T.C. [and] Dallas Green didn’t really have a filter, but he knew how to play the game. I liked him a lot. He was a man’s man if you want to call it that. He would have trouble as a manager in today’s world. I liked Bobby. We didn’t get along all the time and nobody did with Bobby. I see him now and we’re fine.”
Randolph was another Coleman really got along with and he hopes to see Rojas get another shot at managing.
Coleman respected Collins for his evolution from an unpopular manager in Anaheim to a changed man with the Mets a decade later, in addition to the way he spoke his mind. “He knew when it was time to lower the boom in that press conference room,” Coleman said. “He never threw any of his players under the bus, but he’d throw his team under the bus. And there’s a difference. Singling out one guy to take the blame — you don’t have to do that.”
Road to the Big Apple
Coleman graduated from Syracuse University in 1971 with aspirations of becoming a radio disc jockey. Whereas his later colleagues Rose and Cohen were falling asleep to Marv Albert at night, Coleman was listening to Jefferson Kaye on WKBW in Buffalo and others in Cleveland. Coleman started out as a DJ in Utica and Boston, but eventually saw DJs were being phased out.
Working for Curt Gowdy, the well-known announcer who also owned radio stations throughout the country, for seven years and learning the business, despite the meager paycheck, was crucial for Coleman.
“He taught you everything,” Coleman said. “He wanted you to do everything. There was a reason to his madness because if you knew how to do everything then he could hire less people to do what needed to be done. It was perfect for him, but it was a great way to learn everything. I learned news, I learned music, I learned sports.”
Coleman was hired to do afternoon sports with Gil Santos, the longtime voice of the New England Patriots, who mentored him, and later had his own show. In 1981, Coleman went to Enterprise Radio in Connecticut, but the first attempt at all-sports talk radio folded after a year. Coleman went back to Massachusetts to do talk shows, cover college hockey and the Celtics and the Bruins, and occasionally the Patriots. In Lowell, Massachusetts, the Spindle City Press Association presents the Ed Coleman Award for journalistic achievement.
In 1986, Coleman was asked to take another chance with the soon-to-launch WFAN in New York City, and he also went on to cover several Olympic Games. Prior to moving to the Mets beat, Coleman wore many different hats on air for WFAN, including starting with overnight updates for Steve Somers, daytime updates for Jim Lampley, and talk show co-hosting with Dave Sims and Mike Francesa. Coleman liked the talk shows, but more for an occasional spot, not a daily grind, so he welcomed a move to the Mets beat in 1993, which was a heck of a time to be around the team.
“The only hitch was in 1993 they were awful, maybe the worst team they ever had,” Coleman said. “1993-1995 I don’t think I made it to the end of the season. I was covering football by August. That’s how bad they were at the time.”
Green was the manager and characters such as Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla and Jeff Kent were on the team as were other notables like Franco, Bobby Jones, Todd Hundley and Eddie Murray, and 1986 holdovers Howard Johnson, Doc Gooden and Sid Fernandez. It wouldn’t be until 1997 that the team started showing signs of life that led to a playoff appearance in 1999 and the World Series against the Yankees in 2000.
When Rose, who was doing Mets Extra, moved to SportsChannel with Healy, Coleman started handling pre- and postgame duties for WFAN. “I liked covering the team, traveling around, getting to know the other players and cities and ballparks,” Coleman said. “It was fun.”
The Mets were back in business in the late ’90s through a solid farm system and key free agent signings and trades.
“They were competitive in 1998 and were close — you knew they weren’t going to get there — and in 1999 there was the disappointment in Atlanta, then in 2000 they were in the World Series,” Coleman said. “It was nice to go from what had been to what was. It was a fun time just to see the way it built.”
Bringing in Mike Piazza and Al Leiter were two key pieces. 1999 featured the defensive whiz infield of John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez and Robin Ventura — “Probably the greatest infield I’d ever seen,” Coleman said — which got broken up the next year when Olerud signed with Seattle and Todd Zeile came in to replace him. Ordonez also got hurt and the Mets rented Mike Bordick from Baltimore.
The 2000 team also featured Benny Agbayani, Tim Perez and Jay Payton as the starting outfield in the postseason. “You look at it and wonder how the heck they got there,” Coleman said.
Following the Howe years in 2003 and 2004 were the fruitful — but in the end disappointing — Willie Randolph/Omar Minaya years in which, after a promising 2005, the Mets were within inches of making the World Series in 2006 and had back-to-back late-season collapses in 2007 and 2008, including after the final game ever at Shea Stadium in ’08.
“David [Wright] came up in 2004 and the next year they were good because they signed Beltran,” Coleman said. “Omar was there at that point and he went out and got Pedro [Martinez]. 2006 was a fun year, a good team. They should have been a World Series champ, I think, but things happen and you don’t get there.
“I actually thought the 2007 team was better than 2006 overall, but they had the crash at the end, seven games up with 17 to go — and boom. 2008 was just as bad when they closed Shea. They had to bring Piazza and [Tom] Seaver in after a devastating loss to the Marlins on the last day. That was tough, but they were fun teams to cover.”
The Citi Field years started off rough in 2009 and after a “decent” 2014, the Mets rode a miracle second half in 2015 following the addition of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz to the rotation with Matt Harvey, deGrom and Bartolo Colon with trades for Yoenis Capsids, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe — and not trading Wilmer Flores — that led to playoff series wins against elite teams from Los Angeles and Chicago before falling in five games to the Royals.
“The first games of World Series, the two that I covered, they should have won and they didn’t,” Coleman said. “Whether that was their undoing, I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t help.”
While Coleman’s job has changed over the years with more sports talk radio, more sports channels dedicated to teams and markets and the internet, the biggest professional obstacle he’s had to overcome was the COVID-19 pandemic. He had left spring training in early March 2020 to take time to watch his daughter, Emma, play lacrosse for St. Michael’s College, and never returned when the season was delayed due to the pandemic, later scheduled for 60 games in August and September with no spectators and no media.
Leading up to the season, Coleman and Sweeny Murti were doing talk shows “left and right” even though there wasn’t much to actually report. “We grinded it out,” Coleman said.
Once spring training restarted and the regular season began, interviews were conducted over Zoom and games were called from the home stadium only.
Coleman did not go to spring training in 2021, as clubhouse access wasn’t permitted. The regular season started with limited spectators and still no locker room access for pre- and postgame interviews.
“You get used to doing your job a certain way,” Coleman said. “You get used to getting to know the players, and spring training is a great place to do it. You establish relationships and you really couldn’t do that. Everything was by Zoom. I think we traveled 10 games that year to Washington, Philly and Boston. That was it. All the other away games were [announced] off the TV at Citi Field.”
This season Coleman was not sent to spring training due to the work stoppage, another season that would have started without rebuilding and building relationships with players, managers and coaches.
“It was a lot different,” Coleman said. “I had been thinking about retiring over the last couple of years since the pandemic — and there were other reasons — and it all came together.”
Coleman wanted to spend more time with his family and see Emma play Division I games at Bryant this spring. The final last straw for Coleman was one day when he was driving his wife, Kathy, and her mother to the airport. Sitting in traffic reminded him of one of his least favorite parts of the job.
Coleman said WFAN “never pressured” him to retire even as the station was “trying to get younger,” and longtime voices like Somers, Joe Benigno and Bob Heusseler had left.
“They wanted me to come back, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to travel that much,” said Coleman, who stopped traveling with the team on charters once WFAN lost the Mets. Instead he took commercial flights since he was no longer part of the official game day broadcast team. “I wanted to see Emma play in her graduate year. I had missed a lot of games over the years for both Julia and Emma for high school and summer and college. There were a lot of factors with travel and family and it wears on you.”
At 72 Coleman did acknowledge, “It’s a young person’s game.”
Even going to Anaheim for a weekend series was an adventure with Rose off for the weekend and Randazzo doing a game for Apple.
“It was funny because you can be in the locker room again and I was, but I was wearing a mask [by rule] and I was looking around and I didn’t know half of them,” Coleman said. “I know who they are, but I don’t know them.”
A typical game day for Coleman involved getting to the ballpark about four hours before game time for evening and night games, doing some waiting, going to any pregame press conferences, tracking down any players from the home team or visiting team based on any news or the previous game, and eventually getting on the air to report on any happenings and wrapups, using game broadcast audio from the previous day and soundbites from interviews when applicable.
Radio used to have the advantage over television and newspapers to be more timely, but that has certainly changed. “You learn to adapt and get things quicker,” Coleman said. “There was a time we’d get sound from downstairs and I could take my time getting back upstairs and it was still going to be fresh. After a while if you got something … you’d send it right up or wire the locker room to take it live.”
WFAN switched from Mets broadcasts to Yankees in 2014 — the Mets were on WOR from 2014-18 and later CBS starting in 2019 — and while the broadcasters were team employees and went over to WOR and CBS, Coleman was a WFAN employee and he stayed with the station as the Mets beat reporter.
With Audacy now owning both WFAN and WCBS, Coleman was set to host the pregame show and do the Clubhouse Report for the postgame show again this year, and fill in for 30 games for Rose and Randazzo. Instead he will occasionally fill in for the fill-in if it suits his schedule.
Though Coleman doesn’t have his own catchphrases, those of his colleagues can certainly put the exclamation point on his career. Whether it’s Cohen’s, “[He’s] outta here!” or Rose’s, “Put [him] in the books!” or Murphy’s, “Happy recap,” Coleman retires on top of his game.