The return of the New York Yankees to the World Series brings to mind one of the most amusing experiences of my broadcasting career: The time I was verbally abused by the fans at Yankee Stadium.
When I was a TV sports anchor and reporter, I had the good fortune of covering the Fall Classic on a few occasions, including the 1998 matchup between the Yankees and San Diego Padres.
Games 1 and 2 were in the Bronx and I was working for a Fox affiliate that televised the games so they sent me to New York. Our local newscast went on the air immediately after the game broadcast was finished, so my job was to hustle into the locker room as quickly as possible to get a quick interview or two before doing a live postgame report from just outside of Yankee Stadium.
Everything went flawlessly until we set up the camera and turned on bright TV lights in the Yankee Stadium parking lot. At that point, every loudmouth who had enjoyed one too many beers during the game saw the lights and was drawn to them like moths.
There were no security people present, so the hecklers were only a few feet away when I started my live report.
As I began describing the details of the Yankees win, you could hear the insults as clearly as you could hear me, including this classic slam:
“Yo Meatball . . . You’re Too Ugly For TV!”
I had to admit, that was pretty good. And I had never heard “meatball” as a bald man insult before.
When you’re working in TV, whenever there’s an on-air blooper, the folks at the station watch it over and over again. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my former co-workers pulled it off the shelf when the Yankees hosted Game 1 of the World Series this year.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if a few broadcasters had similar stories to tell this year – especially since the two World Series cities are New York and Philadelphia. In fact, I see that former PawSox pitcher David Wells took some abuse while working the earlier rounds of the playoffs for TBS.
“When I was in Philadelphia earlier this postseason with Cal Ripken Jr., Dennis Eckersley and Ernie Johnson for TBS, we got booed,” Wells told Sports Illustrated. “We were just doing our show out in center field and people were walking by saying, ‘You fat piece of [bleep]. … Tell Cal he’s gay. … Ernie Johnson sucks.’ I’m like, “Who the hell are these people?’ We’ve got no part of baseball. We’re doing the game and TBS stuff and these Phillies fans are just f-bombing us to death.”
At least no one told him he’s too ugly for TV.