Friday, July 11, 2008

All-Star memories

With the Major League Baseball's All-Star Game coming up Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, you've been reading and hearing all sorts of recollections of past Midsummer Classics in the Bronx, including the last one played there in 1977.

I covered that game for the Freeman. I remember nothing about the game, who played in it or any of the accompanying festivities. It's a blur.

But this I recall like it was yesterday:

The day before the game, I drove to the Bronx in late morning, parked at the stadium, took the subway downtown and picked up my press credentials at the Sheraton on 57th Street. Then it was back to the stadium for the All-Star workouts. (In those days, there was no big deal on Monday ... no Home Run Derby, nothing but a standard baseball workout.)

About 50 reporters and columnists were standing around the batting cage on a hot July afternoon. We watched the players take their turns (that was as close to a home run contest as anybody would see). At some point, I heard a familiar voice behind me. Sure enough, it was comedian Robert Klein -- one of my favorites, then and now.

I did a double-take, which caught his attention. Who'd expect to see the popular comic actor among the working press at Yankee Stadium?

As if I knew Klein personally, which I didn't, my instinct was to blurt out, "What are you doing here?" He laughed and said he had been asked to write about the game for Sport magazine.

It was fun for this kid reporter to mingle with baseball's best players. But my brief interaction with "Child of the '50s Robert ("I can't stop me leg!") Klein still stands out most in my mind.
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