Phillies recall appearances on Letterman

Hamels, Howard, Papelbon, Schmidt have been on show

Phillies recall appearances on Letterman

DENVER -- Cole Hamels spent the night of Oct. 29, 2008, partying and celebrating with his teammates.

The Phillies had just won their second World Series in franchise history, and Hamels had been named World Series MVP. He got home around 6 a.m. when the bleary-eyed pitcher received a telephone call.

'The Late Show with David Letterman' wanted him on that night's show to read its Top 10 list.

"No way, I'm tired," Hamels said.

Hamels' agent, John Boggs, called back. He said he should reconsider. He told him that it would be a great experience. Hamels ultimately agreed and eventually found himself on a helicopter flying from West Chester, Pa., to New York for the show's afternoon taping.

"It was the first time I had ever been on a helicopter," Hamels said. "I was a little nervous. I didn't know what he wanted me to do. When they said the Top 10, I said, 'Top 10?' It was pretty cool."

Hamels is one of the privileged few to have appeared on Letterman's iconic show. Letterman is retiring this week, with his final broadcast Wednesday night on CBS. So it seemed like a good time to ask Hamels and other Phillies like Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard and Mike Schmidt, about their experiences on the show.

Hamels appeared with Paul Rudd, John Legend and Ashley Olsen. He said he talked baseball with Rudd, who is a Royals fan.

"I also asked him, 'What do I do out there?'" Hamels said. "He said just be yourself, be cool. I was like, 'Oh, OK.'"

Hamels said he rehearsed the Top 10 list in his dressing room, reading the cue cards over and over again.

"I tried to memorize them as much as possible," he said. "But they had the cue cards there if I needed them. I was spot on, though. Thank God. It was just a different experience. You get brought in, right up to the dressing room, read the cue cards, thrown out there, then, boom, out. It was really quick. It was the quickest 24 hours. Winning the World Series, straight to Letterman, straight to a party that night, then the parade the next day. It was a whirlwind."

Papelbon appeared on Oct. 31, 2007, following the Red Sox's second World Series championship in four years. He entered doing an Irish jig as the Late Show band played the Dropkick Murphys' 'I'm Shipping Up to Boston.'

"I remember Letterman being pretty cool and down to earth," Papelbon said. "He was cool, man. He's a Mets fan. Huge Mets fan. He knew baseball real well. I thought that was very cool. There was depth to the conversation."

Papelbon's recollection of his experience is a little fuzzy after that. He kind of remembers David Spade being on the show, but little else. After all, when Letterman asked Papelbon how he spent the days between winning the World Series on Oct. 28 and his appearance on the show three days later, Papelbon said, "Other than not sleeping, partying."

The memories of Schmidt and Howard are hazy, too. Schmidt appeared in 1986 and twice in '88, when Letterman hosted Late Night on NBC.

Back then, World Series broadcasts used players like Schmidt to offer scouting reports on players competing in the postseason. Letterman had Schmidt give scouting reports on that night's guests, which one night included L.A. Law's Susan Dey.

Schmidt touted a good story about Dey's recent wedding, among other things.

Schmidt watched video of that appearance Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. It didn't jog his memory.

Howard appeared once in April 2007 and once again during the 2010 postseason, where he read the Top 10 List from the Phillies' dugout.

"It was cool," Howard said. "He was a crazy cool guy. The show was just a lot of fun. It was cool just seeing how it was set up. I think that was probably the biggest thing."

Hamels remembers Letterman walking over to him after he finished reading the Top 10 list.

"Thanks for coming on," Letterman said.

Hamels thought to himself, "Wow. You're thanking me? I should be thanking you."

As it turned out, it was worth the helicopter ride to make it happen.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.