"In Chicago. At the Hyatt. In 1983. After you had your cataract operation."
"Oh, yeah!" fumed the Lip. "You're the guy who kept turning on the light, and I kept saying, 'Shut that thing off!' "
Halper got an even frostier reception from Pete Vuckovich, who was the American League's 1982 Cy Young winner while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers. Halper caught up with him in the visitors' locker room at Yankee Stadium in 1983.
"Would you please sign my Cy Young ball?" asked Halper.
"Cy Young don't mean——to me," growled Vuckovich, and he bounced the ball off the clubhouse cement. As Halper sullenly headed for the door, Vuke's teammate Robin Yount pulled him aside.
"Pete gets kind of moody," Yount counseled. "Leave him alone, and he'll eventually cooperate."
A year later Halper tried again. This time he gave Vuckovich a ball with Vuke's face painted on it. Vuckovich eyed the ball and said, "You brought this for me?"
"Yeah," said Halper.
"O.K.," he said at last. "I'll sign your other one. Where is it?"
"In my car."