Celebrate April Fools with nine classic ballpark pranks
Opening Day and April Fools have coincided this year -- not that most players need a holiday as an excuse to torment each other in the name of baseball. Whether this list finds you at work, on the couch, or sipping Gatorade in the dugout, here's nine of our favorite ballpark pranks to inspire some hijinks of your own.
9. Team Italy ball boy's helmet unknowingly accessorized
For ball boys, good-natured humiliation is essentially part of the job description. This kid found that out for himself during a USA-Italy game in the World Baseball Classic last month.
8. Derek Bell's car given away to fan
For Toronto's Fan Appreciation Day in 1991, the Blue Jays decided to send one lucky fan home with a car -- a car that just happened to belong to rookie Derek Bell. Forget the giveaway: the look on Bell's face as he watches his ride drive onto the field is the only prize we need.
7. The three-man lift: a perennial favorite
The three-man lift is one of the oldest tricks in a very old book: we're talking page one of the hazing prologue. It begins when one player bets he can lift three men at once. Rookies are encouraged to lie down next to one another and link their arms and legs -- making them hopelessly vulnerable to what comes next. Team veterans gleefully dump whatever they can get their hands on (from ketchup to mayo to soda -- anything goes, as long as the result is disgusting) on their unwitting victims. Here's a vintage Reds take on the prank.
6. There's something about ROCCO
In 2003, rookie Rocco Baldelli took the field for a full inning without noticing that his Rays teammates had altered the name printed on his uniform.
5. Is it hot in here, or is it just Don Kelly?
Don't try this at home, sports fans. This prank was the handiwork of Tigers starter Justin Verlander, though Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven remains the undisputed king of the "hot foot" -- which, by the way, must be the most understated euphemism ever, considering that a part of your body is, you know, on fire. ("Please call an ambulance. I have hot my-entire-body.")
4. Kelly Johnson gets remixed
3. Ken Griffey, Jr. isn't afraid of change
In 2008, Griffey -- a clubhouse prankster of legend -- paid back a $1,500 loan from teammate Josh Fogg all in pennies: 150,000 of them, to be exact, conveniently deposited in Fogg's locker.
2. Bobby Valentine's secret identity shows up in dugout
What happened at Shea Stadium on June 9, 1999 wasn't a prank per se, but it's way too weird to escape our attention. In the 12th inning of a tight bout with the Blue Jays, Mets manager Bobby Valentine was ejected after arguing with an umpire ... only to reemerge in the dugout a few minutes later, disguised (if you can call it that) in a fake mustache and sunglasses. The stunt cost him $5,000 and a two-game suspension. But the delight it still brings us 14 years later? Priceless.
1. Will Ferrell makes Minor League pitching debut for the Round Rock Express ... in character
It only took a few minutes for Billy Ray "Rojo" Johnson -- Ferrell's incompetent, rowdy, and impressively mustachioed pitcher character (a possible source of inspiration for Joba's recent facial hair?) -- to get chased off the field.
-- Molly Fitzpatrick / MLB.com