Entertainment, MLB, Television

“What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?” – Remembering Jerry Stiller’s iconic role as a baseball fan

Jerry Stiller has passed away at age 92. One of his most iconic roles was that of Frank Costanza, a big baseball fan, on Seinfeld.

Early on Monday, we learned that legendary actor Jerry Stiller has passed away at age 92. One of his most iconic roles was that of Frank Costanza, the short-tempered father of George Costanza, on the sitcom Seinfeld. The characters on Seinfeld were big MLB fans, and Frank Costanza was no exception.

In fact, one of Stiller’s most memorable scenes on the show occurred when New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner (who never actually appeared on the show, he was simply voiced by Larry David) informed Mr. and Mrs. Costanza that their son, George, had died (though they later found out that it was all a mistake and that he was still alive). Upon hearing the news, Mr. Costanza immediately berated Steinbrenner for trading Jay Buhner:

Though this episode occurred in 1996, the trade that Mr. Costanza is referring to took place in 1988, when the Yankees sent Buhner to the Seattle Mariners for Ken Phelps. While Buhner went on to hit 307 home runs in Seattle, Phelps would only spend parts of two seasons in the Bronx, hitting just 17 home runs. In 1995, Buhner actually hit 40 home runs and drove in 121.

Regardless of on-the-field accomplishments, both Phelps and Buhner will always be remembered for that Seinfeld scene. In fact, the two players were once on the air during a Mariners spring training game to discuss it:

Seinfeld is one of the most celebrated sitcoms in American history, and there are many great baseball-themed moments from the show. There was the two-part episode starring Keith Hernandez, where he and Jerry strike up a “bromance” before Jerry calls it off because he thought it was moving too fast. There’s the scene where Elaine refuses to take off her Baltimore Orioles cap at a Yankees game. And of course, George’s time as a Yankees employee led to many hilarious situations.

However, the above scene with Jerry Stiller has to be among the most memorable, and I immediately thought about that when I heard about his passing today. RIP Jerry Stiller, and thanks for all the laughs.

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