The brilliant Jerry Stiller died on Monday, the latest sad news in a year where it seems we rarely get news that’s any kind of positive. A legendary actor and the father of Ben Stiller, the news of his death drew an outpouring of memories from those who loved his work and interacted with him over a career that spanned decades.
As a tribute to his passing, many people shared their favorite Frank Costanza moments from Seinfeld on Monday. A particularly memorable scene where Stiller made Julia Louis-Dreyfus break several times was hilarious enough that it was featured in an episode’s closing credits, for example. But one scene involving Jay Buhner and George Steinbrenner was particularly popular among baseball fans. Popular enough, in fact, that a position player who retired in 2001 briefly saw his name trending on Twitter as a result.
Jerry Stiller’s passing has Jay Buhner trending. A classic Seinfeld moment: pic.twitter.com/OGrIMamAEk
— chip (@chiphoosier) May 11, 2020
The clip shared by many sports fans on Monday came from the 12th episode of Season 7, entitled The Caddy. George Costanza is working for the New York Yankees and takes an unapproved vacation, leading the Yankees to think he’s dead. This prompts a visit to the Costanza household by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who often “appeared” on the show sitting in a high-backed chair and a voice impressionist giving his dialogue.
The scene has George’s mother upset over his “demise,” but Frank simply couldn’t focus on his presumably dead son. He needed to ask the Yankees owner why the team traded Jay Buhner to Seattle in 1988, an infamous trade that made little sense to Yankees fans.
“What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?” Frank asked, yelling about the 23-year-old right fielder who left New York after a little over a season in the majors. “He had more than 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing!”
The scene is hilarious because no one is funnier while yelling than Jerry Stiller. And a character more concerned about the questionable trade of a young ballplayer than his apparently dead son is the kind of humor that made Seinfeld the legendary comedy that’s still beloved today. It was a television moment that turned a simple baseball trade into an infamous pop culture moment still remembered today.
In later years, the two players recounted just how much that Seinfeld episode made the trade infamous.
Of the many Seinfeld clips that circulated in memoriam on Monday, this one sports fans will always remember.