Now that the winter meetings have concluded in Nashville, MLB Network will shift its gears to one of its greatest strengths, with the return of MLB Network Presents, the network's documentary arm. The most compelling production is Lenny Randle, "The Most Interesting Man in Baseball," which airs on Friday night.
Randle had what looks like a prototypical journeyman career on its face, hitting .257/.321/.335 in 12 years, playing mostly second base and third base for the Washington Senators, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners.
But his career included so much more than that.
Randle is remembered for famously blowing a ground ball foul up the third base line for the Mariners in 1981, but that is just one of many bizarre and memorable moments Randle was directly involved in throughout his career.
Randle played for Ted Williams and Billy Martin as managers, and for coach Willie Mays in New York. Randle played in the final Senators' game at RFK Stadium in 1971, and in 10-cent beer night at Cleveland in 1974, and was at the plate for the Mets at Shea Stadium when the New York blackout happened in 1977.
Those only scratch the surface of unforgettable moments involving Randle.
"This program is unique and unlike any of the previous MLB Network Presents shows we've aired so far. Lenny was not a Hall of Fame player or even an All-Star. But baseball fans have a deep appreciation and love affair for the great characters in our game, and Randle was just that," says MLB Network producer Andrew Brenner. "As Jim Breuer says in the show, Randle is the 'Forest Gump of baseball.' How many players can that be said for?"
What makes the documentary so enjoyable is Randle himself, who shines through even now at 66 years old. His lust for life and baseball is infectious and drives the story.
The MLB Network production crew spent four days with Randle in Italy, where he is a legend for extending his playing career, in 1983 becoming the first major league player to play in Italy.
Fluent in five languages, Randle tried stand-up comedy during his playing days with the Cubs, and even had a brief singing career, releasing an album on his own label during his time with the Mariners. The most memorable track, naturally, was entitled "Kingdome."
Even if Randle was some ordinary Joe, this documentary is worth watching just for all the notable baseball moments he was a part of in the 1970s and early 1980s. But because Randle was and is a larger-than-life character, it makes the viewing much more enjoyable.
"I've had an exciting life," Randle said.
Definitely one worth remembering.
MLB Network Presents: Lenny Randle, "The Most Interesting Man in Baseball" debuts on Friday at 9 p.m. ET on MLB Network.