Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Greatest Yankee Fan of Them All

The Dodgers held their first Oldtimers Day in a lot of years last Saturday night and it was heartening to see almost 53,000 fans come out (and early, to boot) to honor a bunch of Dodgers and Yankees who played each other in the World Series.

For the festivities, I was parked in the right field Stadium Club for their wonderful pre-game buffet.  And, fittingly, I was with my childhood best friend Leo who has shared many a baseball game with me over several....okay....decades.  We knew the night was special when Sandy Koufax was introduced and the diners in the Stadium Club dropped their forks to give him a standing ovation.

Following the meal, we made our way down the club level concourse to go down to my seats for the regular contest between the Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves.  Suddenly, Leo and I were separated as a phalanx of security types burst in.  They made a dedicated path for a VIP.


Tommy Lasorda on his way to the post-Oldtimers buffet?

Obama still in town to kiss the asses of the Hollywood dumbbells in power?

Or, heck, perhaps there were palms spread out on the floor and we were all going to meet Jesus himself?


"Make way for Billy Crystal!"

Naturally, nobody was really staring at the floor so this little termite was easy to miss.  But, once again, you can never have a completely sunny day.  Here was Crystal to suck the air out of the stadium as the world's foremost Yankee fan.

Billy, who was screamingly funny for about 12 minutes in 1984, has now parlayed a lackluster career into being nothing more than a sycophant for the New York Yankees.  He had already barged into the terrific evening by being the "manager" of the Yankee oldtimers that had assembled. 
Of course, things had already started to careen downhill when he learned that the ever-flatulent Larry King was going to be "umpiring" the exhibition.  Pity the poor catcher who had to crouch in front of the stooped-over-and-ready-to let-loose-with-some-gas King.
But, Crystal's presence was more of a nuisance.  If you were there to watch Chris Chambliss or Steve Garvey one more time, you had to first endure....

...Billy Crystal at bat.    The smart crowd in attendance booed.  And rightfully so.

Crystal has created this myth that he is the greatest Yankee fan of all time.  If you listen to him and fellow fraud Bob Costas, you would start to believe that the sport did not exist at all before they were born.  He keeps telling us about the majesty of the green grass at Yankee Stadium when he first walked into the park.  He glows about towering home runs from his idol Mickey Mantle.  He knows baseball like no one else.

Um, there are millions of us with the same sensation.  The sparkling green grass of whatever major league diamond we first visited.  The exhilaration of that first home runs hit by your favorite player when you're in attendance.  

And, Billy, I could whip your ass in a baseball trivia contest hands down.

But, unfortunately, Billy Crystal is a semi-somebody and we're not.  So we must endure his flights of fancy, no matter how unwarranted.  

Truth be told, everybody knows you're a pipsqueak, Billy.  And, just so you know, the people in the stands who booed you are not the only ones onto you.  So, too, are the baseball players you chase around like a crazed school girl looking for Paul McCartney.

I remember a story I've told here before.  It bears repeating.  I got it from a friend who's very close to several former baseball players.  As a matter of fact, the following tale comes directly from one of the oldtimers on the field last Saturday.  He was there when it happened.  I believe it to be true.  And it's so delicious.

As you may know, Billy had a major man-crush on Mickey Mantle.  This was his idol.  When you would hear Crystal talk about Number 7, you almost cringed with uncomfortableness.  It was borderline child-predator-in-the-playground stuff.

Anywho, it was a Yankees Oldtimers Day.  Mickey was still around, soaking his morning Fruit Loops in scotch and way before he was on his second liver.  Crystal had gotten a media access pass to hang with the oldsters on the field before the ceremony.  Why?  Because he's Billy Crystal, the greatest Yankee fan of them all, that's why.

I hear Billy was particularly pesty on this day.  Running around and annoying oldtimers who were just to catch up with each other.  But, on this day, Billy had a mission.

He wanted to have a father-soon-like catch with the Mick in the Yankee Stadium outfield. 


As the story goes, Billy makes himself a mosquito chasing the big Texas lug all over the place. Finally, he sidles up to #7 and virtually begs him to play catch with him for a few minutes. I hear that Mantle rolled his eyes and finally succumbed to the request.

They're tossing it around in the outfield. Crystal has a grin that stretchs all the way up Jerome Avenue to Fordham Road. Finally, Mantle waves him over. Billy runs up like a kid that has been summoned to the candy store. He thanks Mickey profusely and runs off to presumably change his soiled underwear. 

Mickey turns to my friend's Yankee Oldtimer pal who witnessed the entire exchange.

"Can you believe I had to play catch with that stupid goddamn Jew?"

And that's why I giggle every time I see Billy Crystal in a Yankee uniform.  Just like I did all over again last Saturday.

Dinner last night:  Chinese vegetable stir fry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Two Unbearable Jews At Dodger Stadium"