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Everybody Knows His Name
Steve Rushin
May 24, 1993
Cheers for Sam Malone, the ex-Bosox reliever who served 'em up both on and off the field
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May 24, 1993

Everybody Knows His Name

Cheers for Sam Malone, the ex-Bosox reliever who served 'em up both on and off the field

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"Whose X-ray is this then?" asked a shaken Malone. "Is that not yours?"

"I dunno; lemme take a look at it," said McHale, holding the X-ray up to the light. "It says, 'Adult Male Gorilla.' That's not me. Could be Laimbeer."

Did someone say lame beer? Mayday's baseball career was less memorable than the inane commercials he did for Field's Light. In those beer ads, teetotaler Malone relived old times by relieving former Red Sox starter Luis Tiant, who was having difficulty pitching in English. "You don't feel full with Field's," went Malone's tag line. "You just feel fine."

Malone would do anything for a buck (unless it was Buck Beauchamp of the Minnesota Twins, who choreographed his elaborate Tater Trot specifically to show up Mayday). He recently ventured capital on a chain of tanning salon/laundromats, but lost his shirt in Tan-N-Wash.

With the game's average salary hovering around a million dollars, Malone made his return to one of the lower rungs of the Red Sox organization. He actually pitched well for three weeks at Double A New Britain and recaptured some of his past glory. But his impudent young teammates called him Monday and Midday, and their towel-snapping and motel-trashing did not seem appropriate to this middle-aged man. The usual back-and-forth that Malone had always enjoyed now just seemed sick. "Did you see that one guy pat my butt?" Malone asked Carla Tortelli when she came to visit. "I mean, that's not right."

He tried to stay close to the game with a brief, humiliating turn behind a television anchor desk, but Malone's "I on Sports" commentaries were too idiotic for even the Channel 13 news team. And he wasn't helped by the way his pieces were introduced. One anchorwoman segued into the sports thusly: "...and Keller is scheduled to be executed on Friday. I guess he won't be around then for the Patriots-Buffalo game this Sunday."

Malone's friends watched all of this on the single TV suspended from the ceiling at Cheers. Though its walls are festooned with Red Sox and Bruin and Celtic memorabilia, Cheers is not a sports bar. Sports bars serve fried zucchini and have 23 TVs. Cheers serves beer nuts and has the one battered television—it looks like a Zenith at its nadir. But make no mistake, the tube is usually tuned to pro wrestling or roller derby or a basketball game, for sports are at the very soul of Sam Malone's saloon.

Woody once entered a sports trivia contest, and he drilled maniacally, reading sports record books until he was glassy-eyed and goofy. "What was the lowest round ever recorded in an officially sanctioned PGA tournament?" Carla would ask him in preparation for the contest, and Woody would respond robotically, his gaze fixed somewhere faraway: "Fifty-nine. Al Geiberger."

"The oldest heavyweight champion?"

"Jersey Joe Walcott. Thirty-eight years old."

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