When David Letterman announced this week that he will retire in 2015, it brought to mind his baseball Top 10 lists and the night in 1986 when the late-night host devoted his entire show to Harmon Killebrew. Yes, an entire hour of Harmon Killebrew and David Letterman! Talk about a great twin-killing.
Joining the Hall of Fame slugger that night were former Minnesota Twins teammates Bob Allison and Jim Kaat, plus Liberace and artist LeRoy Nieman. Letterman retired Killebrew's sport coat, raising it to the rafters while Paul Shaffer sang, "Harmon Killebrew ... Just say the name and I start to think about that long home run, a sharp line drive and dislocated elbow in 1965!"
"It was an interesting night," Kaat recalled a couple of years ago. "Harm was calm and unfazed by it. Just took it all in and seemed to be appreciative that Letterman was a fan of his."
Letterman is a big baseball fan. He was a minority owner of the Seattle Mariners with Jeff Smulyan from 1989-92. (But don't blame him for the Moose.) He's also hosted many players and baseball people, in addition to Killebrew, on his show.
Hank Aaron was a guest couple times, including this appearance back in 1982 when Aaron was just entering the Hall of Fame. In that interview, Aaron told Letterman how, after taking the field following his record-breaking 715th home run, the team's traveling secretary ran out to tell him President Nixon was on the phone. "I said, 'Well, fine, Donald, but what do you want me to do? Stop the game? Put the president on hold, and I'll be right with him.'"
Nixon, who resigned the presidency four months later, patiently waited for the half-inning to end. When Aaron got on the phone, the president asked Hank to please visit him at the White House. "I said, 'Thank you very much. When would you like me to visit?' He said, 'As soon as possible.'" Aaron paused. "Hell, I didn't get there quick enough."
A mere sampling of many other baseball appearances include Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte after they won their fifth World Series in 2009; Bud Selig last summer; and David Ortiz last fall. (Papi does not take a selfie.)
In 1993, Ted Williams dropped by an interview with Joe Garagiola, while Letterman interviewed both Lenny Dykstra and Paul Molitor after the World Series. Dykstra talked about how much chewing tobacco he goes through in a game; Molitor joked about how much John Kruk spit on his shoes.
A lesser name, but still a highly entertaining guest, was Terry Forster is this 1985 interview after Letterman had called the Atlanta pitcher a "fat tub of goo" earlier on a show.
Baseball has also been a frequent part of Letterman's nightly Top 10 lists. Curt Schilling read off the "Top 10 Secrets Behind the Red Sox 2004 Comeback," including No. 2 ("What'd you expect -- we have a guy who looks like Jesus") and No. 1 ("We got Babe Ruth's ghost a hooker and now everything's cool.")
There were the "Top 10 Little Known Facts About Commissioner Bud Selig," including, "Went to Las Vegas a couple days ago and put 10 grand on 'tie.'"
The Top 10 Good Things About Playing Baseball in New York, including, "Knowing that if we ever got to the 7th game of the World Series, that with one phone call, we could get the opposing pitcher whacked."
Like everyone else, Letterman has beat up on A-Rod a bit, going back more than a decade when a possible strike loomed. Letterman responded by giving us his "Top 10 Good Things About a Possible Baseball Strike" that had the line, "Fun to think with each passing day Alex Rodriguez is out another 85 grand."
When Rodriguez first faced suspension for the Biogenesis scandal last year, Letterman had his "Top 10 list of Excuses," including, "Asked myself, 'What would Lance Armstrong do?'"
And when Rodriguez was drilled by a 3-0 pitch in the left bicep last season, Letterman gave us the "Top 10 Things Going Through A-Rod's Mind," including, "Hey, that's my injection arm."
The "Top 10 Least Popular Exhibits at the Hall of Fame" has also been a recurring theme with several lists, including such lines as:
• Animatronic Albert Belle that grabs himself.
• Diorama of insect parts found in stadium hot dogs.
• Tobacco spit flume ride.
• Wee Willie Keeler mummified Willie.
• Salute to the Groin Pull.
Still, it's hard to beat this very enjoyable list, the "Top 10 Ways to Mispronounce the Name Kirby Puckett," which has to be seen to be fully appreciated.