Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Keith Hernandez: Happy Birthday To Me!

Hello, my friends. I'm Keith Hernandez. I've been told to call you SMFs, but I'm too sophisticated for that. After all, I'm Keith Hernandez. Today is my 56th birthday and Studious Metsimus asked me to give you a brief recap of my life. To be honest with you, I've never heard of Studious Metsimus, but the offer of unlimited Tootsie Pops was too much to refuse.

 I was born in San Francisco on October 20, 1953. Contrary to popular belief, I was not born with a mustache. The picture to the left is one of my early pictures. Yes, the ladies loved me even then. Can you blame them? I mean, look at me! I'm Keith Hernandez!

I was drafted in the 42nd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971. Apparently, the scouts back then were terrible judges of talent. Unfortunately, I did nothing to earn that selection early on in my minor league career until I was promoted to Triple-A Tulsa in 1973, where I hit .333 and showed those other kids how a real baseball player was supposed to play the game.

In 1974, I hit .351 for Tulsa and was promoted to the big show on August 30 of that year against my hometown San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. I reached base three times in my first big league game. I walked two times before collecting my first big league hit and RBI in the ninth inning off Giants' starter Mike Caldwell. Unfortunately, we lost that game 8-2, but I let it be known that I was here to stay.

I made my presence felt in the clubhouse and on the field. The Cardinals just had to keep me around. Therefore, they traded incumbent first baseman Joe Torre to the Mets after the 1974 season (more on first basemen being traded to the Mets a little later...after a few more paragraphs and my first Tootsie Pop).

It was in St. Louis that I let my trademark mustache grow. That is also where I earned my first Gold Glove in 1978, my first MVP award in 1979 (Okay, it was a co-MVP award that I shared with Willie Stargell), my first batting title (also 1979), my first World Series Championship (1982), my first line...umm...of baseball cards (yeah, that's the ticket) and my first comparison to adult film thespian Ron Jeremy.
Personally, I don't see the resemblance. He looks more like Mike Piazza than me. Also, my acting skills are far superior to his. Was he on "Seinfeld"? I don't think so. That was me. Why did they choose me over him? Because I'm Keith Hernandez!

June 15, 1983 was one of the saddest days of my life. It was on that day that I was sent from the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals to the perennial cellar dweller New York Mets. I wasn't even traded for future Hall of Famers. I was shipped off to the Mets for Neil Allen and a box of Tender Vittles.

 It was already an insult to me that I was traded to the team known as "Pond Scum" and the "Stems" in St. Louis. But come on! Couldn't the Mets have offered some 9 Lives to the Cardinals instead of Tender Vittles? After all, Morris the Cat was all the rage back then. I would have accepted a trade for Allen and 9 Lives, not Allen and Tender Vittles. Sheesh!

Anyway, the Mets didn't do too well after I got traded there. We finished 68-94 in 1983, but showed some signs of life. Old punching buddy Darryl Strawberry came up in May and future colleague R.J. (that's Ron Darling for you casual SMFs...oh dang. I said I wasn't going to say SMFs, didn't I?) was called up when rosters expanded in September.
Big Brother didn't come around in 1984 like he was supposed to, but we had our own little Animal Farm at Shea Stadium. Top pitching prospect Dwight Gooden was called up in 1984 and Davey Johnson became the new Mets manager. The team responded by going 90-72 and giving the Cubs all they could handle in the NL East. I was no longer saddened by my trade to New York and only occasionally did I wonder if Whitey Herzog had finished his box of Tender Vittles.

After falling short again in 1985, we put it all together in 1986. That was the year I won my second World Series Championship and helped bring the first title to Flushing since the Miracle Mets did the same in 1969. I also paired up with another Ronnie after bringing the trophy home in 1986.
After my tenure with the Mets ended in 1989, I decided to give acting a try. I wasn't going to tell you this, but the Tootsie Pop dangling in front of my face has convinced me to do so. Did you know that "Seinfeld" was not my first attempt at acting? Before TV immortality, I wanted to be a movie star. My time with former actor Ronald Reagan in the White House showed me that if he could be President and a movie star, then I could be a baseball legend and a movie star as well, so it was off to Hollywood for me.

 I first gave acting a shot when I auditioned for the movie "Major League". However, it ended up being a bad dream and instead of playing for the Cleveland Indians in the film alongside noted actors Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert and Wesley Snipes, I ended up playing for the REAL Cleveland Indians. It was not a good time to be Keith Hernandez.

I was injured for most of my time in Cleveland. Because of that, I only played in 45 games for the Indians, batting .200 with one HR and eight RBI. You know it wasn't a good season when my Studious Metsimus editor reminded me that I had to write out my home run and RBI totals in words (one and eight) instead of numbers (1 and 8). Needless to say, I retired after the 1990 season and went back home...

...which didn't last long. In 1992, I appeared on Episode #34 of "Seinfeld". The special one-hour episode, named "The Boyfriend", featured me trying to date Elaine Benes, but not being able to get past first base because I used to smoke back then. Another subplot involved me being accused of spitting a magic loogie on Kramer and Newman, when in fact it was my former Met teammate, Roger McDowell from the grassy knoll.

My appearance on "Seinfeld" in 1992 and my subsequent cameo in the series finale in 1998 parlayed into several broadcasting appearances for the Mets. When SNY debuted in 2006, I teamed up with former radio play-by-play man Gary Cohen and analyst/former teammate Ron Darling as the new broadcast team for the New York Mets. I now work with my boothmates to form Gary, Keith & Ron, or GKR for short. Our website helps raise money for our favorite charities, such as the Cobble Hill Health Center (for Alzheimer's care), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (hoping to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes) and the Danbury Women's Center (which looks to lessen the trauma of domestic violence, sexual assault and similar life-changing events).

Fans might know me for my baseball career. Others might know me for my excellent acting on "Seinfeld". Some of you might even know me for my Just For Men commercials with Walt "Clyde" Frazier. Current Met fans know me for my unabashed analysis on SNY telecasts of Mets games. I'm all of those people. Although I'm a year older today, I'm still only 56 so I have plenty left to accomplish in my life. Maybe I'll be a Dunkin' Donuts spokesman when my Just For Men contract expires. Who knows? One thing is for sure. No matter what job I have or what position I fill, I'll always be around. After all, I'm Keith Hernandez!

Note: To give credit where credit is due, a big Studious Metsimus thank you to Señor Solly for correcting a mistake about the SNY team. It's not there now, but it was. Apparently, Keith was trying to break the world record for most Tootsie Pops in his mouth at the same time and said Howie Rose was his original SNY boothmate when it was really Gary Cohen. Gracias, Señor Solly! Studious Metsimus would send you some lovely parting gifts for your good catch but apparently Keith parted with them. How do I know that he did that? Because somewhere in the distance, behind numerous discarded Tootsie Pop wrappers, a faint "I'm Keith Hernandez" could be heard!


Anonymous said...

have you seen the film?


Ed Leyro (and Joey) said...

Never seen it, but I had heard of it. Looks like I'll have to check it out. Thank you!