For baseball fans, the death of comedian Jerry Stiller on Monday immediately recalled a question that has lingered for nearly 25 years: “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?”
Stiller, who died at age 92, was perhaps best known for his role as Frank Costanza (George’s father) on “Seinfeld.” In a 1996 episode, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner went to the Costanzas’ home to erroneously inform them that their son, who was the assistant to the traveling secretary for the team, had died. Frank, however, apparently was more concerned with airing his grievances with one of Steinbrenner’s baseball moves than his son’s passing.
“What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?” Frank ranted. “He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing.”
To which Steinbrenner replied, “Buhner was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps’ bat. They kept saying Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps.”
Frank had a point. In…