BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter still remembers the first time he got the call to be on "Late Show with David Letterman." He was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for Spring Training, and the show wanted to know if Showalter could do an interview over the phone.
"I'm going, 'Wow. Call in?'" Showalter recalled on Wednesday, hours before Letterman's final show. "So I did after the workout … the first question was, 'Buck, when you are on the backfields and you're doing drills and stuff, what are you really working on, what are you doing?' I went, 'We're kind of working on fundamentals.' And I heard the audience laugh and I heard ding, ding, ding. So I'm putting two and two together that he's trying to see how many baseball cliches he can get me to say in, like, two minutes.
"I found out later there was, like, this big board [with words]. And so the next question he asked me was, 'Buck, do you start thinking about all of Spring Training or three games in advance, or how do you take each game?' And I knew it. So I said, 'David, I guess you want me to say, 'I take them one game at a time.' And I heard ding, ding, ding again and he cut off the interview, right there."
Showalter may have outsmarted Letterman that time, but it was't his last on the wildly popular late-night show. In 1992, then manager of the Yankees, Showalter and his hitting coach, Frank Howard, went on to discuss some of the game's traditions of talking nonsense from the dugout and spitting.
"I think [Howard] was out there [throwing the pitches], and we talked about Sweet Nothings from the dugout, we called them. Where the things you say ... don't mean anything," Showalter recalled. "Something about spitting, if I remember right. I remember he didn't look real good in a uni, left-handed hitter, that surprised me. Frank was great."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.