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Yankees to sign comedian Crystal
03/11/2008 12:50 AM ETBy Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are ready to add a touch of Hollywood to their roster, announcing their plans to sign actor and comedian Billy Crystal to a one-day contract during Spring Training. Crystal will sign the contract and work out with the Yankees at Legends Field on Wednesday, before playing in the club's game on against the Pirates on Thursday. Commissioner Bud Selig approved the Yankees' extension of a contract to Crystal.
"I've been waiting 50 years for this call," Crystal said. "I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of the Yankees and Commissioner Selig. I know this'll be tougher than the Broadway Softball League, but I'm looking forward to helping the younger players -- by the way, which is all of them."
Crystal, who turns 60 on Friday, will wear uniform No. 60 in the game.
"The Yankees are excited to welcome the newest member of our team, known for his humor and wit, as well as his undying love for the Yankees," said Yankees COO Lonn Trost. "The Yankees are very grateful to the Commissioner's Office for allowing us to extend this special invitation to Mr. Crystal."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he was in favor of the gesture.
"It's kind of exciting," Girardi said. "Billy Crystal has done a lot for this organization. He's always been a big part of it. It's ownership's and our way of rewarding him and saying, 'Thanks for everything that you've done.'"
But it's not all fun and games. If Crystal really wants to suit up and be a member of the team, Girardi said he'll have to do the grunt work, too.
"He's going to have to run after practice, because I don't think Thursday is a scheduled off-day for running," Girardi said.
Crystal, a star of movies, television and Broadway has been a regular presence in the Bronx over the years, enjoying a close friendship with former manager Joe Torre. Crystal has often said in interviews that he has carried one of Mickey Mantle's baseball cards in his wallet for his entire life.
In 2001, Crystal directed and produced the film 61*, which chronicled the historic seasons of Yankees greats Roger Maris and Mantle as they sought to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record.
The film garnered 12 Emmy nominations, including nods for "Best Director" and "Best Made for Television Movie." It also earned Crystal a prestigious Director's Guild nomination.
Crystal has starred in movies such as Running Scared, Throw Momma from the Train, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, Mr. Saturday Night, Forget Paris, Hamlet, Deconstructing Harry, Analyze This, Monster's Inc. and America's Sweethearts.
He will not be the first celebrity to don a Major League uniform during Spring Training play. Country music artist Garth Brooks worked out with three big league clubs -- the Padres, Mets and Royals -- beginning in 1998 to raise funds for his Teammates For Kids foundation.