All banquets in baseball cities must have a Yogi Berra story, and Jimmy Piersall obliges.
"Berra called me one day," Piersall starts. "His wife had just had a baby and he said, 'Hey, Piersall, you've got nine kids, how about giving a few tips on changing diapers? If you can't, who can?' So I said, 'Yog, you take a diaper and put it in the shape of a baseball diamond. Take the baby's bottom and put it on the pitcher's mound. Take first base and pin it to third. Take home and slide it into second.' He said, 'That's easy, I can do that.' I said, 'Wait a minute, Yogi. One thing about this game, when it starts to rain, there's no postponement.' "
And so it goes. Duffy Daugherty cracks, "The most obnoxious person in the world was born in Texas, moved to California, served in the Marine Corps, has given up smoking and is on a diet." Then he adds, "And people keep saying this is the greatest banquet in the world. Myself, I'm partial to The Last Supper."
Vince Dooley, the Georgia football coach whose team lost to Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl, says, "I want to commend Johnny Majors for taking a group of spindly scholars to the national championship."
Majors says goodby to Pittsburgh after four wonderful years, and Chuck Tanner, the new manager of the Pirates, says hello after a not-so-wonderful year managing the Oakland A's.
The highlight of the evening is so long on sentiment, it seems corny. But it is obviously heartfelt.
"Forty years ago," Abrams says, "I fell in love with a Pittsburgh football team and a player named Marshall Goldberg. It was the first time an Arab fell in love with a Jew. All that time, if anyone asked me who was the greatest back Pittsburgh ever had, I'd say, 'Marsh Goldberg.' Until these last few years. Now I'm not sure."
Abrams asks for a photographer. "I've never before asked for anything for myself," he says, "but could I have a picture taken with Tony and Marsh?" The cameraman clicks away, and soon Dorsett receives a standing ovation as the Dapper Dans' Man of the Year.
Dorsett commends the Dapper Dans, saying, "I haven't attended a banquet half as nice as this one," then introduces his parents and says, "I'd like to thank Coach Majors, the staff and my teammates for letting me experience the greatest football season of my young career. Mr. Rooney, I've had four wonderful years here in the city of Pittsburgh. Please don't let me go." With minor variations, it was the same speech Dorsett had given four nights earlier in Spokane.
The parties begin on every floor of the hotel. On the 14th floor two men snore through the night with their door open. Later, a weary, red-eyed partygoer is told that an elevator is going up, not down, and he mumbles, "Ah, you been rich all your life."