By Danny Torres
BRONX – We all love a good joke. I have a dear friend of mine who grew up in the Bronx but is also a die-hard Baltimore Orioles fan. We talk literally every day and a number of our jokes revolve around baseball.
We simply laugh. And laugh and enjoy hearing the same stories over and over again. Whether it’s the ‘World Series Ring Story’ or the close friendship he had with a Baseball Hall of Famer who drove him in his brand-new Lexus to his favorite Italian deli – Subway.
Earlier today, I traveled to the place of my birth – the Bronx – and headed to Yankee Stadium to cover my very FIRST Old Timers’ Game. Yes…Numero Uno.
I absolutely had NO clue what I was going to do but I knew the Yankee old-timers have spoken to media countless times throughout their tenure wearing the Yankee pinstripes.
I figured let’s have fun. I want to laugh. I want my readers to laugh so I began with what I figured was the easiest question to ask: What was your funniest moment while wearing the Yankee pinstripes?
Easy question? Sure, it is was. But, I looked at my list and exactly six players couldn’t come up with ONE funny moment they would go on record to share with my readers. But, below are some pretty brave souls who did share their “Yankee Moment” and let me tell one thing:
I laughed. I chuckled. I smiled and yes…it was a “LOL” emoji moment.
At the 1981 playoffs, we won and we are celebrating. This is the team celebration. Back in the day, you had the Bronx Zoo and Reggie Jackson was there with his entourage. Graig Nettles was there and his family had their pocketbooks at a certain table. Reggie comes in and moves their stuff out of the way. Nettles comes over and says, “Who moved my wife’s purse?” Nettles and Reggie started jawing back-and-forth and they started fighting at the team party. And here we are dancing Salsa and Merengue and George [Steinbrenner] comes over and says, “Break it up…Break it up!” After it’s over, George comes to the room and says to everyone to go back to the party. Nothing happened. No more fighting. It was surreal but that’s how we were back in the day. They loved each other but we fought like family. – Willie Randolph, (second baseman, 1976-1988)
Yogi [Berra] tried to direct me in the outfield and move me around. I moved the opposite way. And when I came in the dugout he said, “Did you see me?” I told him I didn’t him. I said, “You need to come out to the top of the dugout steps.” So he came out on the next step and did the same thing. And it happened the same way. He said, “You didn’t see me?” I said, “Nah, I didn’t. Maybe you should wave a towel.” So I ran back to the outfield and I’m moving back-and-forth. Once again when I get to the dugout he says, “Did you see me with the towel? I said, “All I saw was the towel.” – Mickey Rivers (center fielder, 1976-1979)
One of my funniest memories as a Yankee would probably have to be when Goose [Gossage] joined our club. He was struggling in the beginning. I forgot who we were playing that night and when Billy [Martin] went to the mound, Mickey Rivers was playing centerfield and he jumped on the bullpen cart and said, “Don’t put this guy in. We are trying to win a game. – Bucky Dent (shortstop, 1977-1982)
The funniest one would be Opening Day of 1978 when Reggie [Jackson] had his first at-bat after hitting the three homers in the 1977 World Series, it was the day they gave away Reggie bars. And Reggie hits a homer in his first at-bat and fans start throwing Reggie bars on the field. Later in that inning, a ball was hit in the right-centerfield gap and Mickey Rivers and Reggie Jackson were going after the ball and picking up Reggie bars instead of the ball. – Chris Chambliss (first baseman, 1974-1979)
I remember one game, we were playing the Cleveland Indians and we were getting beat that game. Thurman [Munson] was the last hitter and he came up in that game to face Dick Tidrow and Thurman got jammed and he hit a pop-up that went about five-feet high. The catcher just reached over and it popped into his glove. So most of the guys on the bench thought it was hilarious – AFTER the game. After the game, we kidded him for a long time. – Roy White, (outfielder, 1965-1979)
When I was traded to the Yankees, I was little nervous so I showed up to Spring Training the day before and I wanted to put my uniform on, get my workout in and get a heads-start. There was no uniform in my locker. I asked the clubhouse manager Pete Sheehy that I need my uniform. He said Mr. Steinbrenner would like to see you. He saw you walking in the parking lot. I went to “The Boss” and introduced myself. I told him I’m ready to work out and there’s no uniform. He said, “Your hair is long. We have a strict haircut policy. You need to cut your hair.” I told him, “Look, I don’t see the difference between my hair being long and being able to play baseball. In fact, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had long hair and was the greatest person to walk this Earth. He didn’t say a word but asked me to follow him. He led me across the street to the Fort Lauderdale swimming pool and said, “If you can walk across that water, you can wear your hair anyway you want. – Lou Piniella, (outfielder, 1974-1984)
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