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You Wouldn’t Hit a Guy with Contacts, Would Ya?

Check out Keith Olbermann’s Buck Showalter story:

On Sunday, August 22nd, 1993, the New York Yankees were tied for first place in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays. As I watched in horrified astonishment from the press box, they were 4-hit by Chris Haney, a soon-to-be journeyman pitcher who would end an eminently frustrating career with an ERA of 5.07. The Yanks, now in second place and flying out to Chicago hours later that afternoon for a critical series, were in big trouble and had a lot to worry about. Or so I would’ve thought as I ventured into the clubhouse to commiserate with my friend Danny Tartabull.

There to my shock I found the usual crowd of reporters but – 10 or 15 minutes after the game had ended – not a single player. Worse yet, though nothing was said, several of the reporters seemed to be staring at me. That’s when Yankee factotum Arthur Richman took me aside: “The manager would like to see you.” I asked Arthur if I had been sent to the Yankees’ farm club in Columbus. “Matter of fact, you have,” he deadpanned. Inside there was second-year boss Buck Showalter, affable and cordial and welcoming. After a few pleasantries he began his soliloquy: “I asked you in here, because when I saw you on the field before the game I was frankly worried for your safety. Some of them truly do not like your style on SportsCenter and I thought someone was going to take a swing at you. These guys claim to ignore the media but every day our newspaper recycling bin is full. Actually, the players refused to come into the clubhouse until you leave. Me, I don’t care, I have a tough skin, you’re a bright fella and you know your baseball and you make me laugh. But I thought Boggs or especially O’Neill might take a swing at you.” Having startled me with this announcement, Showalter asked a question. “Far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, but how much of that job is dependent on access to the players?” I told him that conveniently the answer was none. He was silent for awhile. I told him it was all academic because I would be leaving SportsCenter soon to join our new ESPN2 product. Showalter smiled. “Well, we have a flight to catch but it’s been a pleasure. Sorry I had to be the bearer of such bad tidings about how the players feel about you but I really thought you needed to know.” I left the Stadium quickly, wondering not just about the oversensitivity of the Yankees, but more importantly why they would be worried more about me than about getting shut out by Chris Flipping Haney.


1 TheGreenMan   ~  Sep 7, 2010 3:45 pm

You left out the best part of the story. About how he ran into Paul O'Neill a few years later and he got the REAL story. Great stuff.

2 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 7, 2010 3:55 pm

[1] What is that story?

3 RIYank   ~  Sep 7, 2010 4:45 pm

To me the story also highlights an off-putting quality of Olbermann's writing, and probably of Olbermann. He's kind of full of himself. That last clause, I mean, why does he think the Yanks were more worried about him than about getting shut out? They were pissed at him. That doesn't mean they were more pissed at him than they were at getting shut out. Or the holocaust, or the tragedy of the human condition.

I don't hate Keith, at all, but I do fairly often get that "Oh get over yourself" reaction.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 7, 2010 4:52 pm

here's the rest of the story, i think...


5 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 7, 2010 5:06 pm

They were pissed at him.

Well, except they weren't, if the rest of the story is to be believed.

At the ESPY Awards of, I guess, 1997, I was more than a little worried as I saw a door open and several Yankees step out. As I tried to look shorter, the outfielder extended a had: "Keith! Paul O'Neill. Big fan!" I rushed through my thanks to tell him the Showalter story. "What? That was you? Nobody was avoiding you. Buck ordered us into the trainers' room. 25 guys in there like sar-blanking-dines! All he told us was there was a reporter he hated and he wanted to air out and we needed to stay put till he let us back in the clubhouse." Several beverages and second-hand Showalter stories later O'Neill brought it back up again. "You ever heard of me hitting some BODY? All I do is hit water coolers. That Buck!"

Who knows (which isn't to speak to your general reaction vis-a-vis Olbermann, which is similar to my own)

6 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 7, 2010 5:12 pm

[3] [5] I kind of enjoy Olbermann's bombast, when it surfaces. Of course, I used to enjoy that about Dennis Miller too, and that didn't turn out so well . . .

In any case, I'm not surprised to find out that Showalter could do such a thing, or that he did so. Its an interesting story. As far as I know, no one has written the definitive story - or any full length piece - of the Showalter Yanks. This just adds another piece to the puzzle.

7 RIYank   ~  Sep 7, 2010 5:30 pm

Oh, well, that certainly makes it a better story! And I really don't hate Olbermann. And I did like Dennis Miller, too. Just not everything about them.

8 joejoejoe   ~  Sep 8, 2010 7:01 am

Check out The Boss in the front row. What year did George Steinbrenner stop regularly appearing at games?

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