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Former IronPigs broadcaster now in the majors

On the Club Level of Coca-Cola Park there is a display with bright blue stars for every IronPigs player who has gone on to make their debut in Major League Baseball with the Phillies.

There is also a star for former Pigs manager Ryne Sandberg, who made his major league managerial debut after managing for Lehigh Valley.

If you look closely, though, there is one missing. There is no star for former IronPigs radio broadcaster Pat McCarthy, who moved from the IronPigs to the New York Mets radio booth.

You might argue that the problem is that he is with the Mets. True, but his major league debut came last season with the Phillies when he took over for his dad, Tom McCarthy, when he needed time off to do another broadcasting assignment.

Now, McCarthy is more than a fill-in. He hosts the radio pre- and post-game shows for the Mets on WCBS radio. When legendary Mets broadcaster Howie Rose - who has cut his broadcasting duties from 162 games to 125 games - doesn’t travel on a road trip, McCarthy takes his seat in the booth. That leaves McCarthy paired with another MLB newcomer, Keith Raad. The pair have the experience of going through their first major league season together.

“Our first road trip was to Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and I’ll never forget when the bus pulled up at Dodger Stadium,” said McCarthy. “Keith and I just sort of looked at each other in awe. That was definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment. Then, to walk into the Vin Scully Press Box was amazing. I have gotten to call games at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. That’s just an awesome experience to get to do that.”

On the trip to Fenway, McCarthy signed his name on the inside of the Green Monster in left field where greats of the game have done so.

“That was great, to get to do that,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy - who often talks in self-deprecating fashion about his pitching career at The College of New Jersey - grew up with baseball in his blood. The 27-year-old spent a lot of time with his dad when the elder McCarthy was doing games on radio for the Trenton Thunder before moving up the ladder and working for the New York Mets - where his son has now started his full-time major league career.

McCarthy had opportunities to work in the booth with the Phillies last season, but since then, has become a different announcer.

“The biggest difference is having the opportunity to do this every day,” said McCarthy. “Last season when I filled in for my dad, I felt that I had to be perfect. Now, I allow myself to just be myself, and that there is no need to be perfect. I have grown a lot as a broadcaster since last year, and I can allow my personality to come out. You can grow from imperfection.”

On his travels, McCarthy often runs into former IronPigs players who are also major leaguers. He spent nearly an hour talking to Cole Irvin when the Mets played Baltimore, and was greeted by Luke Williams with a warm hug on the trip into Dodger Stadium. He also recently caught up with Mickey Moniak and Logan O’Hoppe when the Angels were in New York over the weekend.

“It’s great getting to see these guys, and hearing their stories and talking about the days in the minors,” said McCarthy.

In the Lehigh Valley radio booth, McCarthy worked alongside Easton High School grad Mike Ventola, who also left the IronPigs after last season and is now a sports reporter for the Service Electric Network.

“Oh, man, we had so much fun together,” said McCarthy of those days working with Ventola. “He’s a great guy and I talk to him, but I miss seeing him every day during the summer. The first day of the season at Lehigh Valley was always like the first day back at summer camp when you got to catch up with everybody, and I’ll never forget that.”

ANGELS IN PHILLY … Just as McCarthy got to catch up with Moniak and O’Hoppe in New York, Phillies fans and players are getting reacquainted with the pair in Philadelphia as the Angels road trip took them from New York to Philly. With Millville, New Jersey’s Mike Trout out with an injury and not playing in Philly, the former prospects along with Shohei Ohtani are the marquees for the Angels visit. “I stopped whatever I was doing when Ohtani was in New York to watch him bat,” said McCarthy. “He is one of those guys that you never know when he is going to do something special at the plate, and you have to watch.”

DERAILMENT … The IronPigs had a make-up game in addition to their regular six-game series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. It didn’t go well for Lehigh Valley. Scranton won six of the seven games, which pushed the IronPigs down from the top spot in the IL East in the second half to fourth as the RailRiders leapfrogged them and went into third. Worcester leads the division by 1 ½ games over Durham with Scranton two behind and the IronPigs 2 ½ out.

Pat McCarthy in the IronPigs booth during his days with Lehigh Valley. FILE PHOTO