He may have struck out, but Billy Crystal's 60th birthday present — the chance to be leadoff batter for the New York Yankees — was the dream of a lifetime for the actor, writer, comedian, director and diehard Yankees fan.
Crystal signed a minor league contract to play designated hitter in an exhibition game at Legends Field on Thursday, the day before his 60th birthday. The righty went down swinging against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won 5 to 3, but Crystal and the team celebrated anyway at dinner at Malio's Prime Steakhouse in downtown Tampa.
"Billy's come in many times with George,'' said restaurateur Malio Iavarone, a partner at the steak house with his son Derek and Jason Fernandez.
The Boss didn't make it, but Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Brian Cashman and Tino Martinez sang Happy Birthday to their temporary team mate. Crystal's buddy Robin Williams, his wife, Marsha, and daughter, Zelda, flew in for the game.
Crystal sipped a Cosmopolitan while Williams downed a couple of espressos. Clips from Crystal's movies, Saturday Night Live scenes and 61, the film he directed and produced about the 1961 Yankees, played on screens over the bar. Two huge blue and white balloon bouquets arrived with birthday wishes from Muhammad Ali.