Billy Crystal, longtime actor and creator of 61*, gets to live out a lifelong dream today when he bats leadoff for the Yankees against my Pittsburgh Pirates.
I’ll say this right now, if the 60-year-old gets a hit, I will officially give up on the Pirates this year. I’ll post how he does later today.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — No joke: Billy Crystal is leading off for the New York Yankees. The comedian was put in the top spot for Thursday’s exhibition game, listed as the designated hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wearing No. 60, Crystal got his chance a day before his 60th birthday. A lifelong Yankees fan, the righty was set to face Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm.
Derek Jeter followed Crystal in the lineup, with Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano among the other regulars also playing.
Johnny Damon was scheduled to take over the DH job from Crystal later in the game. Damon was in the spirit, saying it was fine that he sat at the start in place of Crystal.
“He’s been around longer,” Damon said. “He’s got credibility.”
UPDATE: 2:30 p.m., Crystal strikes out
TAMPA, Fla. — Billy Crystal had better stick to his night job.
The comedian, actor and Oscar presenter struck out in his new career as a baseball player Thursday — and promptly struck out as the New York Yankees’ new leadoff man.
Wearing No. 60 a day before his 60th birthday, and cheered on by fellow funnyman Robin Williams, Crystal gave himself a chance in the first inning in his only at-bat.
Swinging late against Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm, Crystal bounced a chopper past first baseman Adam LaRoche that landed several feet foul. Crystal got ahead in the count 3-1, but then swung over a pair of 88 mph fastballs.
The crowd gave Crystal a standing ovation, and he raised his hand to salute the fans. Teammate-for-a-day Alex Rodriguez signaled Maholm, who tossed the ball toward the Yankees dugout for a souvenir.
Crystal’s debut — and finale — followed the likes of Garth Brooks and Tom Selleck, other celebrities who played in spring training games.
Johnny Damon took over the DH job from Crystal later in the game. Damon was in the spirit, saying it was fine that he sat at the start in place of Crystal.