Athlete Run-In: The Mystery Of The Mustache

Today's first athlete run-in story answers a question we've had for a long time: Has Don Mattingly ever not had that mustache? (We were scared enough when Bruce Bochy shaved his.)

Full story after jump, because it's long, but here's a highlight.

"Can I ask you a question...how long have you had that mustache?" I inquired, genuinely interested.

"Uhh...for a while now. As long as I can remember," hereplied, in what I recognize in hindsight as flabbergastedness.

We're not sure "flabbergastedness" is a word, but we like it, nonetheless. Enjoy the rest after the jump.

(Oh, and we can't get enough of Donny Baseball's sweater in that photo, by the way.)

Time: Around Midnight. Weekday. Sometime during the 2004 season, I think.
Place: Ray's Famous Pizza, 95th Street and 2nd Avenue, New York City.

So, my BoSox just got done beating the Yankees up in the Bronx while I watched and downed beers at my local watering hole, when a hunger came over me. I decided to drop by the Ray's around the corner for a slice to blanket tomorrow's hangover. As I entered the otherwise empty pizzeria, no indication of the events that were about to unfold could be noticed. Not more than 30 seconds later a guy comes in and asks for a large cheese pizza to be made fresh. He's wearing a Yankees' cap pulled way down, but I can make out that signature mustache.

I look at him and come straight out and ask, "Are you Don Mattingly?" He grins in a pleased and grateful sort of way. I exclaim to the guy serving us, who I know is from Guatemala with no baseball knowledge, if he knows who this is, as I gesture open-handed to baseball greatness. The pizza guy shakes his head "no." "This is Donny Baseball! MAN!!! This is crazy. Donny Baseball!" I nearly shout as my hand smacks forehead.

"I just got done watching the game an hour ago. That's too bad about tonight. Well...not that bad. I'm a Sox fan," I said pointing to my t-shirt. Donny Baseball nodded, and I immediately realized the error of my ways so I went about correcting it by changing the subject.

"So...Donny Baseball! I can't say I like your organization, but I've always respected you as a player and coach." No response. Damn! (thoughts: must change subject further.)

"Can I ask you a question...how long have you had that mustache?" I inquired, genuinely interested.

"Uhh...for a while now. As long as I can remember," he replied, in what I recognize in hindsight as flabbergastedness.

"Wow..." I said while looking around the pizzeria to see if anyone else had entered, so I could share my Donny Baseball moment with someone.

At that, he promptly told the pizza guy he would wait for the pie in his double-parked car out front. He handed the guy a twenty and said to bring the pizza out when it was ready.

By that time, my slice was placed in front of me and I sat smiling at it, shaking my head, and quietly whispering to myself, "Wow...Donny baseball."

Athlete Run-In: Chad Johnson's Side Job [Deadspin]