Salt Lake Bees announcer Steve Klauke tells, in person and on-air, a story recounted by Hal McCoy, longtime Dayton baseball writer, who had a stroke that virtually blinded him in both eyes.
Klauke says that after the incident, McCoy was in the Cincinnati Reds locker room, fumbling around trying to do his job, when infielder Bret Boone asked him what was wrong. When McCoy told him what had happened, and that he was planning on retiring because of it, Boone said he wouldnt hear of it.
He then told McCoy just to let him know of any players he needed to interview, and Boone would make it happen. And he did, many times. The punch line McCoy uses is that he ended up interviewing a Coke machine a few times, too.
The point is that baseball has some outstanding people as well as the most dedicated pranksters. I remember reading the groundbreaking book Ball Four, when I was a kid. The book detailed how members of the Yankees would go on peeping expeditions when they were on road trips.
OK, thats more than a prank, in my mind its creepy. And its against the law. But they thought it was a prank.
As a Triple-A beat writer, early in my career, I ran into some pranksters. One time I was in the visiting locker room and asked to talk to Juan Berenguer, the Tacoma pitcher. I didnt know what he looked like, so I asked a teammate. He pointed to a guy next to him.
The guy pretended to be Berenguer before cracking up and then directing me to another guy. I knew that player wasnt Berenguer, because Berenguer was Hispanic; this person was white. It took a third try before I finally found my interview.
Another time a visiting player spit on my feet when I asked a question during an interview. I still dont know for sure if he was mad or just pranking me to see my reaction. I know others looked on with high interest, snickering as the drama unfolded. But I merely moved on to another player for some quotes. No reaction at all, except I laughed a little.
Gil Kubski, a funny guy, was a player for the Gulls who actually took the mound in one game when the pitching staff had grown too thin. He pitched through the evening and into the night, wearing the sunglasses he had donned in the afternoon when he was in the outfield.
I wasn't sure if he did it on purpose or just to make people laugh.
At any rate, Im convinced baseball players are the most prankish of all the major sports.
Maybe all that standing around gives them too much time to think.