Has Billy Crystal embellished his baseball resume?

No, I’m not talking about the stuff in which he claims to be the product of Mickey Mantle’s assexual reproduction. We all know he made that up and we’re all content to let him go on thinking we believe it. I’m talking about his actual baseball playing. As reader Bob Tufts points out, Crystal’s Wikipedia page notes the following:

Crystal attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, on a baseball scholarship, having learned the game from his father, who pitched for St. John’s University. Crystal never played a game at Marshall because the program was suspended during his freshman year and he didn’t return as a sophomore, staying back in New York with his future wife.”

The claim is repeated on his IMDB page:

At Long Beach High, Billy played second base and was varsity captain in his senior year. This earned him a baseball scholarship from Marshall University in West Virginia which he accepted. However, he would never end up playing a game as the baseball program was suspended during his freshman year. This would lead him to leave the university and move back to New York. He then enrolled at nearby Nassau Community College, majoring in theater.”

The only problem is that, according to Marshall’s media guide, the baseball program was fully active when Crystal was of college age. Indeed, the only seasons it was ever suspended was during World War II. Bob speculates that maybe Marshall suspended the JV or freshman program or something, but if Crystal was really on scholarship, wouldn’t he have been on the main team or have been fixed to make the team in a year or two anyway, all while getting a free education? Possibilities:

(1) Bob and I are simply ignorant of the intricacies of Marshall baseball in the 60s and the story is exactly how Crystal’s bio says it was, in which case I withdraw the implied allegation in the title of this post;

(2) Crystal got the scholarship but left Marshall for his own personal reasons such as bad grades or the severe culture shock of being a New York Jew plopped down in Huntington, West Virginia in the mid 60s. If it’s the grades or some dark secret, shame on him for letting an inaccuracy hang out there like this; if it was the culture shock, well, I fully understand because I’m kinda afraid of Huntington I’m from freaking West Virginia; or

(3) Crystal is Bill Richardson-style sham when it comes to his baseball history and as a result of his lies, lies and more lies, all of his baseball-related entertainments and all of his non-baseball output apart from “Soap,” “Running Scared,” “The Princess Bride,” and his season on “Saturday Night Live” should be thrown into a shredder and banned for all time.

Wait, let’s do number three regardless of where this baseball business comes down. In the meantime, I’d like to know what the deal is here.

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  1. Kevin said...

    It’s a bit harsh to assume he endorses this version of his baseball career. The two websites you have cited rely on the public to supply information. On both sites, anyone can put anything anywhere. To hold him responsible for that is unfair. If you cite his autobiography… then that’s another story altogether.

    (I understand IMDB is a little stricter, but I have posted biography information for people there, so it’s not too hard.)

  2. Aarcraft said...

    He was on the team, then the king’s stinking son fired him. And thank you for bringing up such a painful subject. While your at it, why don’t you give him a paper cut and pour lemon juice all over it.

  3. Aarcraft said...

    Also, can we keep Monster’s Inc? Not my favorite Pixar film, but thats like saying Grienke isn’t dominant because he isn’t Pedro circa 1997-2000.

  4. Bob Tufts said...

    Kevin – I checked other bio information sites and they all same the same thing – even the one used for Conedy Relief.

  5. Daniel said...

    Playing baseball at Marshall is the greatest thing in the world!  Except for a nice MLT, mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean…

  6. Motherscratcher said...

    I’ll assume that leaving out Throw Mamma From The Train was an oversight.

    I know that Devito and Anne Ramsey (RIP Mama Fratelli) WERE the movie, and Crystal could have theoretically been replaced by anyone up to and including Steve Guttenberg, but still…he was in the movie.

  7. Craig Calcaterra said...

    MS: Yes, that was an oversight. Throw Mamma was a good movie.

    Sam: That’s the most groan inducing of these yet.

  8. Grant said...

    The Princess Bride and Monsters Inc are the only Billy Crystal-related things I am willing to coutenance. Otherwise, he’s an insufferable [insert expletive here].

  9. Gerry said...

    You’re going to ban When Harry Met Sally? and City Slickers? and The Academy Awards?

    You’ve got very high standards.

  10. TUCK! said...

    Hey, if we’re divving up the Crystal ouvre (such as it is), I’m putting in my vote to keep “Spinal Tap”. (I know, the catering mime isn’t a huge part; I just don’t want this swept out along with the rest in fit of zeal.)

  11. Ike said...

    I think there is another possibility…

    A new coach came in after his freshman season and purged (or revoked the scholarships of) all of the previous coaches recruits.

    I don’t know if this is considered an acceptable practice today, but I would imagine that even if it is not, it is likely that at the time it was.

  12. Craig said...

    In his recent HBO Special “700 Sundays” – and he reiterates that he did receive a scholarship to Marshall for baseball because he “…was a second baseman that could hit opposite field.”

  13. Randy Miller said...

    I played for Rio Grande College during 1965 – 66. Although we were avery small NAIA school, I recall we played Marshall five times winning three games. Marshall played at a place called St. Cloud Field in Huntington and I can attest that Marshall was playing baseball in 1965-66. I would really like to know if we played against Mr. Crystal. I think it is possible that the Marshall program fell on hard times after that year, because I don’t think Rio Grande ever played them again.

    • Tony Pricr said...

      I played baseball for Marshall University during the spring of 1967. I was a junior out fielder and was recruited by Bill Karbonnit. The head coach was Jack Cook. We won 11 games and lost 11. Since Billy Crystal was not famous at the time, no one ever spoke of him while I was there. There was no freshman team in 1967.
      Tony Price

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