NEW YORK – As a young boy, Colin Cosell would climb into Papa’s lap and listen to that famed voice, the nasal, New York tone booming to sports fans all over the country.
The sound of Howard Cosell still echoes, decades and generations later.
“I pride myself on doing the best imitation of my grandfather in the world,” Colin said.
Soon, a lot more people will hear it, too.
The 38-year-old Cosell made his debut Saturday night as a public address announcer for the New York Mets, starting with their game against the Chicago Cubs. He’ll share the duties this season with Marysol Castro, who began earlier this week.
Next week, maybe, fans at Citi Field might get a real treat.
For all the games and events and commentary the bombastic Howard Cosell did during a career that made him America’s best known sportscaster – revered or reviled – there’s no doubt about his most iconic call.
“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”
Cosell punched up each word, staccato-style in a frenzy that night in 1973, when George Foreman rocked Joe Frazier to win the heavyweight crown.
And it just so happens the Mets have a player named Frazier.
Third baseman Todd Frazier currently is on the disabled list but is expected back in the lineup soon. And when he returns, Colin Cosell will be ready.
Cosell plans to enunciate Frazier’s last name exactly the way his grandfather did all those years ago on that charged evening in Jamaica.
“With Todd’s blessing, of course,” he said.
Cosell’s pronunciation is sure to bring winks and smiles to the Mets’ crowd. The homage to Howard, who died in 1995, will certainly please Colin’s wife, Julia – her favorite player is Frazier.
“It’s a way of remembering, in a fun way,” he said the PA booth, a few hours before his first game.
Cosell said he can recall being mesmerized at age 5, listening to his grandfather record his daily “Speaking of Sports” pieces for ABC Radio from the bedroom of his Hamptons home, talking about boxing and football and everything else.
“He’d do a sound check and then he’d let me do one,” Cosell said. “Then we’d go get bagels and spend the day at the beach.”
“It wasn’t until later that I realized how big he was,” he said.
Colin grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and was a goalie on the high school ice hockey team and played soccer. He also could sing, performing in “West Side Story” and other musicals.
His professional life showed off a variety of talents. He was an intern on “Saturday Night Live,” he did theater, he was a comedian and he worked in bar and restaurant management.
He always stayed close to sports, and won three Emmy Awards with MSG Varsity. He was working freelance for Verizon FiOS1 Sports when this opportunity arose in mid-April.
Cosell doesn’t particularly look like Howard, and his normal speaking voice is nothing like his grandfather’s – the only hint will come, probably, when Todd Frazier steps to the plate.
The rest of the time, Colin said, he just wants to do the job well.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do my entire life,” he said. “Get it right. Keep the Cosell legacy alive.”