Bernie Williams plays guitar, Dave Lennon plays host
The dinner of the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America featured "stars, critics, magnates and officials of the diamond," on a night when "formality was forgotten and hilarity was the keynote of the occasion."
Actually, that was The New York Times' description of the first dinner, 85 years ago this week at the Commodore, not the one I attended Sunday at the Hilton.
(Perspective: The baseball writers' dinner is a New York sports tradition older than the existence of the New York Football Giants.)
Instead of Kenesaw Landis, Babe Ruth and Christy Mathewson being among the speakers, we settled for AL MVP Dustin Pedroia of the Bosox thanking the crowd for not booing him, emcee Dave Lennon of Newsday good-naturedly ribbing Brian Cashman about not acquiring Johan Santana last offseason - "I live with that every day," Cashman said - and standing ovations being given to Greg Maddux and to veteran baseball writer Bob Klapsich for coming back from a devastating eye injury suffered while pitching in an over-30 league last summer.
I sat at the Newsday table, as did two all-time announcing greats: Bob Wolff and Warner Fusselle.
Lennon did a fine job as emcee, especially for a guy from the Boston area.
In addition to Pedroia not getting booed, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge also were spared. The audience was not bashful about booing members of the Red Sox' front office.
Bernie Williams played a haunting, harp-like rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on his guitar, and later joined Ed Kranepool in accepting awards as proxies of sorts for the closings of Yankee and Shea Stadiums.
Photo credit: Thanks, AP! Pictures of the Babe are hard to find on the Internet!