You may have noticed that in a few of my previous posts, I may have taken a few shots at Billy Crystal. I thought you might like to know that this underlying contempt I hold for this man runs deeper than the “comedian’s” less than entertaining work despite it’s critical acclaim. The beef I have with Billy is personal.
I was in Jr. High school, and Oaktown, IN had just entered into the world of cable television. Even though it was only like 40 channels or so, it was certainly visual overload for the residents of my small town of around 600, whose options consisted of ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. Occasionally, we could catch an idependent channel out of Bloomington and watch what looked like the Indiana Hoosiers playing basketball in a blizzard.
One of the channels in our buffet of entertainment was Lifetime. In case you don’t remember, Regis Philbin used to host a talk show on the Lifetime Network. One night, while flipping through the channels, my dad stopped on The Regis Philbin Show.
Regis’ guest for the evening: Mickey Mantle. He was my dad’s favorite player when he was a kid. My dad talked about Mickey Mantle so much, even though I never saw him play, he was one of my favorite players as well.
Part of the format on The Regis Philbin Show was to have viewers call in and ask the guests a question. So Regis put the number on the screen, and I started dialing. Unlike the rest of the phones in our house, the phone in the living room wasn’t a rotary phone. It was one of those fancy push button “pulse” phones that had a redial button!
After a couple of times of getting a busy signal, I was shocked to hear the phone ringing on the other end! I was really excited; I had my question ready to go! The call screener wanted to know what I was going to ask, then told me that they would get to my call soon before she put me on hold.
While I was on hold, I listened to a couple of people ask The Mick some questions. The anticipation was growing. I knew I had to be up soon. I was starting to get a little nervous. But this little kid from Po-dunk, Indiana was going to get to talk to not only a baseball icon, but a Yankee icon!
Then it happened: Billy Freaking Crystal.
Billy Crystal called in to talk to Mickey. Now Billy had probably talked to Mickey a million times. They probably had dinner together the night before. It wouldn’t surprise me if Billy had drove Mickey to the studio that night and was making that phone call from the green room!
The call went on…and on…and on…and on…
Listening to Billy ramble was excruciating. It was like taking a meat thermometer, jamming it into my ear, and driving it in with a ball peen hammer.
Before Billy could hang up, the call screener was on the line again.
“We’re sorry. We aren’t going to have time for your call tonight. But thanks for calling!”
And just like that, the hopes and dreams of a small town Indiana kid were dashed. What was probably going to bud into a long lasting friendship between my family and the Mick (not to mention all the free Yankee games that I’m sure my dad, Mickey, and I would attend together), instead turned into a childhood consisting of one disappointment after another.
Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. My childhood was actually great. Except for that one night Billy Crystal totally screwed up, of course.