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T.J. SIMERS

Don Rickles is a hotter ticket than the Dodgers

The comedian is still getting laughs at 85, but what would really bring a smile to his face is a change in Dodgers ownership — not a reduction in season-ticket prices.

October 24, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • The many expressions of Don Rickles, comedian and baseball fan.
The many expressions of Don Rickles, comedian and baseball fan. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Frank Pace, the former PR guy for the Southern California Sun before you were born, said he had tickets to see comedian Don Rickles on Saturday night.

I didn't know he was still alive, but Pace actually still looks good for himself.

He claimed to be a friend of Rickles and had comp tickets that had us sitting somewhere in Fullerton for the Anaheim show at the Grove.

You could almost hear everything Rickles had to say, while watching him on the big-screen TVs provided for those who didn't know Rickles as well as they might have thought.

The place was packed, a tribute to the 85-year-old comedian who can still draw a crowd. And if the young Angels had worked as hard as Mr. Warmth did in putting on a show, the Rangers wouldn't be playing in the World Series right now.

"Anaheim," Rickles began, "Where else can you meet Mike Scioscia?"

But as you might imagine, Scioscia was not there, knowing there was no way he could control Rickles or what he might say.

John Stamos (Jesse from "Full House") was there and lot of credit has to go to Pace and his wife for not bothering him for an autograph.

Later we would all go backstage. Rickles took my hand and pleaded: "You've got to get him out of here."

I turned to Stamos and then Pace, before I realized Don was talking about Frank McCourt. "Please, please, what he's done to this team — it's just terrible.

"I love the Dodgers so," he continued, while launching into a story never mentioned previously in The Times.

It was late in the season, the Dodgers already having clinched first place, so it was really a long time ago. Rickles was a guest of manager Tom Lasorda.

"He told me to put on a Dodgers uniform," Rickles said, "and he had me sit next to him in the dugout."

Late in the game Lasorda told Rickles to go to the mound and remove the pitcher.

"True story," Rickles said.

Rickles, wearing No. 40 across his back but no name, waddled out to the mound looking not all that different from Lasorda from afar. (A little Rickles for Rickles.)

Rickles told reliever Elias Sosa he was out of the game, but Sosa wouldn't leave.

"You're not the manager; you're not even a coach," Sosa replied as Rickles recalled in his memoir, "Rickles' Book."

"You can't pull me out of the game.''

Rickles fired back: "Give me the ball."

By this time umpire Harry Wendelstedt had made it to the mound and wanted to know what the ruckus was all about.

"I'll be damned, Don Rickles," Wendelstedt said. "Don, any chance I can get tickets for your show in Las Vegas?"

The Times' story noted that Rickles was in uniform and on the Dodgers' bench, but made no mention of the trip to the mound.

"I didn't say anything to the media," Lasorda said by telephone from Chicago. "I had already been fined $500 for making Tony Danza our bat boy."

First thing Monday morning, I figured I'd call the Dodgers and let Frank know he's got to go on behalf of die-hard Dodgers fan Don Rickles.

But the Dodgers began the day by announcing they were afraid no one will buy a ticket next season. So they lowered season-ticket prices.

To be fair, I thought I should still call the Dodgers and congratulate them on doing something right for a change.

So I called, asked for whoever was in charge these days and was switched to human resources. I had no idea they were already taking applications for the next team owner.

I called again, was placed on hold and heard Charley Steiner screaming, "Broxton records his third save!" That's what the Dodgers want you to hear while trying to sell you tickets?

Eventually I got Chad's answering machine.

I called PR with hope of getting a human, and got Andrew, who put me on hold, with Steiner screaming: "Broxton takes the sign . . .''

Andrew returned to say, "Hey," there's no one in charge right now and I should leave a message.

So I called the number the Dodgers gave me for tickets and got Ticketmaster. Afraid Ticketmaster might charge me for calling, I hung up.

I called again and got Brett, who was very nice before putting me on hold with Steiner. The Dodgers must believe they will sell more season tickets if fans are reminded what it will be like if they have to listen from home.

Brett switched me to PR again, I got Joe, and when I asked who was in charge of the Dodgers, he said, "It's still Frank."

I asked to speak to Frank, but if for some reason he didn't get back to me, I wanted to know who was next in charge.

"Maybe Howard [Sunkin]," Joe said; you know, the guy who was paid $400,000 from charitable donations to be Frank's friend.

I told Joe I just wanted to compliment someone on lowering ticket prices and he said he'd get back to me.

Three hours later I called looking for Joe and got Adam. Adam said Joe was out. You mean like Jamie?

Joe then emailed: "Frank has no interest speaking to you."

And that was the last I heard from the Dodgers — no chance to commend them on lowering prices or to pass on Rickles' regards.

What a bunch of hockey pucks!

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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