December 28, 2006

When Worlds Collide: Radke on Stern

While we were discussing Brad Radke's retirement last week, Will Young tipped me off to the fact that Radke once appeared on Howard Stern's radio show. Being perhaps the single most rabid Stern fan in the state of Minnesota--he hasn't been on the radio here for at least a half-dozen years and only lasted a couple years when he was on locally--I looked up the date of Radke's appearance and found the CD of that month within my vast collection of shows. Seriously.

It turns out that Radke appeared on August 1, 1997, along with backup catcher Greg Myers and the team's assistant athletic trainer (whose identity was never revealed beyond "Jimmy"). The Twins were in New York to play a three-game series against the Yankees, which explains Radke's presence, and Radke was 11 games into a historic 12-game winning streak, which explains why Stern had a relatively unknown pitcher from a small-market team on the show despite having almost zero interest in sports.

After announcing that "the Minnesota Twins" were about to stop by--not such a stretch, given that Radke won 20 games for a team that went 45-82 when he didn't start--Stern tells sidekick Robin Quivers that perhaps the players will help offset the number of women who get undressed in the studio by showing her "their athletic asses." Stern then says Radke and Myers asked to come on the show because they're big fans, despite Stern's show being relatively new in Minnesota at the time.

When the three guys come into the studio, Stern incredulously asks the trainer, "You're a ballplayer?" When told that no, he's a trainer, Stern responds, "Yeah, you didn't look like a ballplayer to me." He then clarifies the situation by saying, "You're the guy who gets the towels, right?" After unsuccessfully trying to convince Radke and Myers to undress for Quivers, Stern informs the audience that they are "a couple of good-looking jocks" who "look like male models."

After Radke and Myers meekly introduce themselves, producer Gary Dell'Abate informs everyone that "Brad is on a major roll right now ... he's one of the first 15-game winners and he's won 11 games in a row." Dell'Abate then opines that Radke "will probably be a 20-game winner," to which Stern responds, "Gary, man, you're so homo for both players." Dell'Abate responds that it's "my job to know" before Quivers asks if seeing Radke and Myers in person is "as good as bare breasts for you, Gary?"

In an effort to break the ice, Stern tells Radke, "You should see me pitch, man, I suck." He goes on to tell a story about how the only time he ever played catch with his father as a kid resulted in Stern's first throw "hit[ting] him in the nuts ... and that was it." Stern tells Radke that whenever he tries to play catch now, his shoulder hurts, and then asks, "Doesn't your shoulder hurt after you pitch?" Radke replies, "You better believe it does." Nearly a decade later, shoulder problems ended Radke's career.

When told Radke is married and Myers isn't, Stern asks if there are "a lot of groupies, especially when you're on a roll?" The trainer says, "Nah, not really," to which Quivers yells out, "Not really?! Not for the assistant athletic whatever!" Stern adds in, "Yeah, look who's answering!" Stern then tells Quivers she should "date a baseball player" because "it's like a modeling agency in here." Always nose-obsessed, Stern then asks if they've "had nose jobs or something?"

Stern asks how they're in such good shape, at which point Myers says it's because they have good trainers. Stern quickly turns to the trainer and says, "Then how come you don't have a good physique?" After Stern asks again about how much his arm hurts after pitching, Radke says, "Oh yeah, I pitched three days ago and it's still killing me." He then laments that he has to spend "about six months" each year like this. As expected, Stern then turns the discussion to sex, leading to this exchange:

Stern: Seriously, when you're with your wife, on top of her, doesn't it hurt? I'm talking about your shoulder.

Radke: I try and stay off of it.

Stern: Oh, you try and stay on your back? Is your wife a stripper or something?

Garnering little response from Radke, Sterns tries a slightly different line of questioning:

Stern: You met a nice girl, a Christian girl?

Radke: Um, yeah. She's pretty nice looking.

Stern: She does everything?

Radke: Yeah, everything I say. [laughter]

Quivers changes the topic, asking, "How are the Minnesota Twins doing this season?" Myers chimes in to say that "we're like in fourth, fourth place ... about eight games back." Stern briefly discusses the Yankees' playoff chances and then says, "I mean, I wish you guys luck too, but it doesn't look so good for you." He tells them "there's always next season" and then asks Radke, "Isn't it a bitch, when you win 11 games in a row and the team can't even follow through on it?"

Stern, Quivers, and Dell'Abate then have a discussion about Radke's contract situation, with everyone marveling at how little a third-year player makes ("who negotiated your contract, Jackie Martling?"). Stern tells him it might be best "not to play so damned hard" and advises him to avoid hunting, gardening, and various other activities involving the use of his arm, showing he has some semblance of sports knowledge by evoking the names Monty Stratton, Bob Ojeda, and Brien Taylor.

"Well, I do a lot of fishing," Radke offers. Noticing that Radke and Myers are doing little besides adding a random "yeah" or "uh huh" to the conversation, Stern says, "You guys are like hypnotized by me, you can't even talk." They then have the following exchange, which involved the most talk from Radke during the entire interview:

Stern: Brad, you seem kind of young to be getting married. How old are you?

Radke: Twenty-four.

Stern: Twenty-four?

Quivers: And how long have you been married?

Radke: Almost three years.

Quivers: Good lord.

Stern: Oh man. Getting a little itchy, are we?

Radke: Uh ... I don't know about that. [laughter]

Stern: I say he's got another year on his marriage. Got kids?

Radke: Yep, one.

Stern: Boy, you're roped in. What, did you meet her in college?

Radke: No, one of my sister's best friends. She's about a year older than I am.

Stern: When you're a great ballplayer, don't you know that there are going to be plenty of fish in the sea? I got married at 24, but I didn't know I was going to be anything. I just figured I'd be a big ugly guy the rest of my life. [laughter]

Quivers: Where are you from?

Radke: From Florida.

Stern: Oh, that's why. Back there, you boys take a while to grow up. You don't realize what's out there.

Radke: Yeah, I guess.

Stern: You marry the first good-looking girl you see.

Radke: Yep.

That train gets derailed when Myers tells Stern that he's divorced after eight years of marriage. Stern asks how he broke the news to his wife, but Myers says he "found out a few things ... found out a few things here and there." "Really?" Stern asks, presuming that Myers meant his wife was cheating on him. "Good-looking guy like you?" The conversation quickly turns to the sexual exploits of Mark Whiten and Luis Polonia, both of whom had been in the news recently.

Stern asks Radke if he's pitching in New York and, after being told that he's not, says, "So you just sit there and watch the games?" Myers confirms that, saying, "He's only a starter. He doesn't do anything." The interview then wraps up with this exchange:

Stern: Just watch your arm, man.

Radke: I'll be laying on my back most of the time. [laughter]

Stern: Oh, excellent. You brought the wife with you?

Radke: Yeah, she's here.

Stern: Is she here today?

Radke: She was going to come in here, but she might be a little hungover. [laughter]

Stern: Oh, that's nice. It's good to get her drunk. When you go cheat on her, she won't know anything happened.

As Radke, Myers, and the assistant athletic trainer leave the studio, Stern continues to marvel over how good-looking they are, saying Radke looks "like a manly man" and Myers looks "like a marine," but "I look like a woman." Offering the final word on the interview, Quivers says, "When guys like that leave, women say, 'You know there was a man here.'" Eight days later, after Radke beats the Blue Jays for his 12th straight win, the Yankees snap his streak with a 4-1 win at the Metrodome.

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