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SNY’s He’s Keith Hernandez is a brief, but engaging, look back at #17

We’ve seen the new SNY documentary about our favorite former first baseman.

On Tuesday night, I got a chance to represent Amazin’ Avenue at the premiere of He’s Keith Hernandez, a new documentary debuting this evening on SNY. The documentary tells the story of Keith Hernandez from California kid to SNY broadcaster, hitting all the major stops in between.

The problem with any 45 minute documentary is the degree to which detail can be given to any one aspect of the story. There are so many interesting things that happened to Hernandez over the course of his career that even if the documentary was five times as long, certain elements would have to be glossed over.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, because this is a documentary broadcast on the Mets’ cable network, there is precious little time given to Hernandez’s time on the Cardinals. However, the participation of Whitey Herzog gives that section of the program some more meat than perhaps was to be expected. Herzog speaks candidly about not wanting to lose Hernandez, but was told by ownership that it was happening, which somewhat contradicts what Hernandez has long said, which was he felt that Herzog didn’t like him and wanted him gone.

There was also mention of the Pittsburgh grand jury investigation into cocaine use among baseball players that Hernandez testified during in 1985. Both the Pittsburgh and Herzog segments were short, but offered a more balanced view of Hernandez’s career than you may expect from the network that employs him. But again, both deserved more time than the format allowed.

As would be expected, most of the runtime was spent on Hernandez’s time on the Mets, specifically his trade from the Cardinals and the 1986 season. For Mets fans of a certain vintage, these are well worn areas that don’t necessarily reveal too much new information. That said, how could it not focus on those moments?

Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez at the He’s Keith Hernandez premiere at Citi Field
Brian Salvatore

What was clear from watching the program, as well as from the question and answer session afterwards, is just how respected among his teammates Hernandez was. Hernandez cited that as his favorite part of the documentary when asked by his broadcast partner Gary Cohen.

Cohen also emphasized Keith’s relationship with his brother Gary, which was one of the more touching parts of the film as well. Hernandez marveled at the fact that Gary, who was a good ballplayer in his own right, was never jealous of Keith’s success. Keith admitted that, had the roles been reversed, he may have expressed some jealousy.

Overall, the film makes a case for why the Mets are retiring Hernandez’s number later this summer. It’s an argument that really doesn’t need to be made to anyone who has paid attention to the past forty plus years of baseball. But as a tribute to the Mets’ greatest first baseman, longtime broadcaster, Seinfeld guest-star, and mustache hero, He’s Keith Hernandez reminds the viewer just how special Hernandez was, and is, to this franchise.

He’s Keith Hernandez debuts on SNY tonight at 6:30pm ET.