You probably have know idea who Lenny Randle is, even if you’re a diehard baseball fan like I am. Randle played 12 seasons in the majors for six organizations, making a total of zero All-Star Teams and receiving MVP votes in just one season (1974 with the Texas Rangers). He’s the definition of a journeyman. Yet, Randle was once called the most interesting man in baseball and is the focus of the latest edition of MLB Network Presents, so there must be something intriguing about him…right?
A one-hour documentary on the colorful life and 12-year playing career of Lenny Randle. Narrated by comedian and diehard Mets fan Jim Breuer, the program travels to Italy to spend time with Randle and explore why Rolling Stone dubbed him “the most interesting man in baseball.” Randle discusses his role in some of baseball’s strangest moments, including playing in “10 Cent Beer Night” at Cleveland Stadium in 1974, standing at the plate at Shea Stadium during the New York City blackout in 1977, being suspended following his altercation with Texas Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi in 1977, and his famous act of blowing a baseball foul during a game at the Kingdome in 1981.
Rolling Stone writer Dan Epstein, New York Mets broadcaster Howie Rose, and Randle’s former teammates, including Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, San Francisco Giants broadcaster Mike Kukrow, and former manager Bobby Valentine recall their unique experiences with Randle, including his days as a standup comic and soul singer during his career.
Sitting outside the Colosseum in Rome, Randle reflects on playing for Hall of Famer Ted Williams and becoming a baseball hero in Italy, where he now spends time trying to find baseball’s next great Italian star.
The film starts off by briefly explaining who Randle is through a series of interviews, and then goes into the breakdown of his career, which featured plenty of…bizarre moments. Randle was a member of the Washington Senators in 1971 when fans rushed the field during their final game in Washington before moving to Texas. He played under Ted Williams with Washington and Texas, and also played under Billy Martin with the Rangers. A couple of years after the riot at RFK Stadium, Randle was a member of the Rangers during the legendary Ten Cent Beer Night at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.
Randle’s career with the Rangers ended in 1977, when he punched Texas manager Frank Lucchesi in the face following a dugout argument. He was traded to the Mets in April of that year, and was batting during the New York City blackout on July 13th.
Randle bounced around the majors following his two years with the Mets, but returned to the Big Apple in 1979 with the Yankees, joining their active roster on August 3rd. The player he replaced on the roster? Thurman Munson, who was killed in a plane crash on August 2nd.
He also gained infamy during the 1981 season with the Mariners when he blew a ground ball down the third base line foul.
Documentaries that focus on lesser known stories and players like Randle are the ones that really shine, in my opinion. It’s easy to make a film about say, Miami football – there are plenty of infamous incidents to cover, and numerous personalities to interview. It’s not all that easy to dig into the archives and find compelling, not widely seen footage on someone like Randle or Marcus Dupree. ‘The Most Interesting Man In Baseball’ not only focuses on Randle’s baseball career in America, but also his dominant post-MLB career in Italy, his attempts at stand-up comedy and music, and his post-baseball life in Italy, where he is something resembling a folk hero.
‘Lenny Randle, The Most Interesting Man In Baseball’, airs at 9 PM ET on Friday, December 11th on MLB Network.