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Yanks end Crystal's pinstripes tenure

Crystal's new role: Yankee for a day

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Billy Crystal may be a former Yankee, but hey, there's always Old-Timers' Day.

The Yankees gave the "prospect" his official release on Friday, the day of his 60th birthday and one day after the actor and comedian struck out in his only at-bat against the Pirates.

Leading off and serving as New York's designated hitter, Crystal worked the count full against Bucs left-hander Paul Maholm, fouling off a 1-0 fastball before striking out on an 88 mph cutter.

"It was unbelievable and the greatest moment of my life," Crystal said. "I don't really know how to describe it. It was intensely good."

The announcement came at the bottom of the second page of Friday's game notes. Under transactions, it said, "March 14 Released INF Billy Crystal."

Crystal had been signed to a Minor League contract by the Yankees, who received Commissioner Bud Selig's approval to execute the transaction.

Crystal invited the entire Yankees roster to a postgame party held on Thursday evening in Tampa, Fla., a bash that was also attended by comic and friend Robin Williams. Crystal signed dozens of baseballs for players, bearing the inscription, "Your teammate, Billy Crystal -- 3/13/08."

Crystal also left his mark in the Yankees' clubhouse. Having had his shoelaces and socks sliced by a prankster, believed to be reliever LaTroy Hawkins, Crystal got his revenge in absentia.

When Hawkins reported to Legends Field on Friday morning, his sneakers had been screwed to the wood panel above his locker, and a mock 1952 Topps card bearing Crystal swinging in Yankees pinstripes was pinned to Hawkins' nameplate.

"I'm still going to hold it against [rookie Andrew] Brackman," Hawkins said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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