As managers trot out one prospect after another, and painstakingly
analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly of their prospective teams,
fans anxiously tap their collective feet, counting down the days until
the regular season kicks off. The long and dreary days of spring
training can be just as monotonous for fans as it is for veteran
players practicing the “wheel” play or hitting the cut off man for the
umpteenth time. So, whenever there’s a chance to break up the toil with
some fun, or manufactured excitement, players and fans alike get a
Giddy is exactly how many baseball fans felt today when the Yankees
squared off against the Pirates in what would normally be just another
Grapefruit league game. What made this game different was a small
lifelong Yankee fan wearing the # 60 in honor of his 60th birthday.
Leading off for the Bronx Bombers was none other than comedian Billy Crystal,
or the Yankees “Designated Hebrew” (DH) as he likes to call himself. It
was a perfect moment of levity and anticipation that makes these
ultra-long days of spring barely bearable for the baseball fan.
To his credit, Crystal actually got ahead in the count, 3-1, against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm.
He even hit a foul chopper down the first base line. But then Maholm,
making sure not to be the butt of jokes for the rest of spring
training, bared down. He threw two 88 mph fastballs, that the 60 year
old comic swung over, “strike three, yer out!”. The fans rose to give
him a standing ovation, while Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez
retrieved the ball as one more birthday gift, a gift this life-long
Yankee fan will probably hold as dear as any of his many entertainment
While this moment might not ever be as memorably odd as 3 ft. 7 in. Eddie Gaedel stepping in the batters box for the St. Louis Browns; or Grandstand Manager’s Day, where thousands of fans got to manage the St. Louis Browns for a game through raised placards; or the White Sox’ infamous Disco Demolition Night, legendary major league baseball team owner Bill Veeck (the greatest baseball promoter of all-time) would have been proud.
Bill Veeck Would Have Needed Weight Watchers
On the opposite spectrum of odd promotions, the Pittsburgh Pirates have
announced that they will designate certain seating sections this
season, “All You Can Eat”
sections. So, as Pirate fans gear up to endure a record tying 16th
straight losing season, they can anesthetize themselves on all the hot
dogs, hamburgers, nachos, or ice cream that they want. And if you’re
health conscious, don’t worry, you can even chow down an unlimited
amount of Salad. Ugh!
***Below are You Tube links for anyone who missed Billy Crystal’s Yankee AB: