There’s a scene in the classic 1980s baseball movie “Bull Durham” when Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, the flamethrowing, scatterbrained hotshot pitcher for the Class A Durham Bulls, gets a phone call that changes his life.
Suddenly, he’s getting sent all the way up to the major leagues. From Class A, it seems impossible, but it’s Hollywood.
Well, Chaminade graduate Keith Raad got a real-life call very similar to that of Tim Robbins’ character in that famous film: He’s going from Class A all the way up to the bigs. And he’s doing it for a franchise that is just a few miles from Chaminade High School.
Audacy Inc. and the New York Mets announced on Feb. 6 that Raad will be joining the legendary Howie Rose in the Mets broadcast booth on WCBS-880 AM for the 2023 season on a full-time basis. (Audacy owns the station.)
The 29-year-old Raad, a 2011 graduate of Chaminade, had spent the last six years as the announcer for the Mets’ Class A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, and now will be making the giant leap to the big time.
“I’m still pinching myself here a few days after the announcement because I feel so incredibly fortunate this is happening,” Raad said in a phone interview on Feb. 8. “My phone has been ringing nonstop, my mother is even having trouble getting ahold of me. It’s just an incredible opportunity and I’m so excited to get started.”
Raad joins good friend and Port Washington native Jake Eisenberg as debut big-league radio broadcasters this season from Nassau County, with Eisenberg being hired to announce Kansas City Royals games.
And it was Eisenberg who preceded Raad in the Cyclones’ booth and pushed for his good friend to get the Mets job.
“He has a tremendous amount of knowledge of all the up-and-coming talent in the (Mets) organization,” Eisenberg said. “He’s developed a smooth sound that’s easy and enjoyable to listen to, while also being affable and enthusiastic.”
“Jake has been such a big help to me, because we share the same dreams and thoughts, and being a minor league broadcaster is very often a lonely job,” Raad said. “So having a guy who’s about your age group, who you can send tapes to and critique each other, has been so helpful.”
Raad said the process of applying for the Mets opening began last fall, when Eisenberg, a part-time Mets announcer in 2022, was hired by the Royals.
Then, a little before Christmas, it was announced that Wayne Randazzo, Rose’s former WCBS-880 partner, would be leaving the job, meaning there were two openings on the Mets broadcast team, a part-time and a full-time opening (Pat McCarthy, a Triple-A announcer for the Phillies last season, was also hired this week by the Mets.)
“You’re just looking for an opportunity, and last fall I was reaching out to every big-league club and just seeing what was out there, that I could apply for,” Raad said. “And when I saw there were maybe two openings now with the Mets, I applied and started going through the process.”
Raad said he first had to have an interview with Rose, and when a scheduled 20-minute talk went 45 minutes, he thought that was a good sign.
Then he met with Audacy executives, and finally Mets front-office brass, and after each set of talks he began to feel like he really had a shot at the gig, such was the positive feedback he was receiving.
“I got the feeling they really wanted a younger guy to pair with Howie, someone who knew the Mets, and also a New Yorker as well, who could connect with listeners,” Raad said. “And just going through the process, at each step when they asked ‘do you think you could do this?’ I could tell I really had a chance.”
Finally in late January Raad was offered the job of working 120 games with Rose, and about 40 with McCarthy when Rose is off, dealing with a medical issue he recently revealed was bladder cancer.
It was a shock and disbelief, but it just became constantly joyous and emotional in a good way, when I got the official call,” Raad said. “And let me tell you, it was very hard for my parents to keep this quiet the last few weeks, but I told them they couldn’t tell anyone yet,” Raad said with a laugh.
In a statement, Andy Goldberg, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Mets, said this about Raad: “Having Keith called up from Brooklyn, and being a local New Yorker, is what the Mets are all about.”
For Raad, trying to win over notoriously fickle New York baseball fans/listeners is nothing he’s intimidated by.
“I’ve been trying to win over New Yorkers my whole life, at the bar, at the deli, everywhere,” he said with a chuckle. “But even going back to Chaminade, when I first started thinking about (broadcasting), I’ve had so much support and help from so many people, so this is really, really rewarding.”