(AP, BLS Illustration)
Berkman ensured that the St. Louis Cardinals closed their Grapefruit League schedule on a humorous note by using Wainwright's 2009 Chevy Silverado as a fan appreciation giveaway. In the top of the third inning, a white Silverado rolled onto the warning track as the public address announcer told the crowd at Roger Dean Stadium that a fan in the stands had won the truck. Reporter Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among those who saw it go down.
A name was announced, and the father and son ran gleefully toward the Cardinals dugout to take their prize.
The truck was Adam Wainwright's.
The whole hoax was setup by Lance Berkman. He was driving.
Berkman poked his head out just as the winners climbed into the bed of the truck. Wainwright did a double-take as the truck drove onto the field, but he never emerged from the dugout, moving instead back to the bench and out of view as his teammates looked to him for a reaction.
Silverado, why don't you come to your senses?
It was all reminiscent — for those of us who remember stuff like this — of when the Toronto Blue Jays totally punked Derek Bell in front of everybody.
Bell was a rookie in 1992 when Jays teammates — on the last day of the regular season at SkyDome in Toronto — pretended to give away Bell's Jeep SUV. Joe Carter himself drove it onto the field as Bell looked on, horrified:
The look on Bell's face confirms that it was one of the greatest pranks in prank history, regardless of it also being Major League Baseball. So, Berkman doesn't get a lot of points for originality or for capturing Wainwright's reaction for posterity — at least until we see video of it, if we ever do. The game wasn't broadcast on TV.
"As long as that's a joke, that is well done," Wainwright said. "I don't know if that's a joke, yet."
So it's still a good prank. It was funny, harmless (C.J. Wilson, take note) and it gave us a neat glimpse into how the Cardinals clubhouse works socially. Wainwright, after missing the 2011 season with an injury, has been having a great camp. Berkman, though he was on the team a season ago, finds himself in a much stronger leadership position with Albert Pujols gone. It's not that the Cards were a bunch of curmudgeons before, but Pujols and Tony La Russa were kind of ... curmudgeon-y. Berkman, who collaborated with Skip Schumaker on the prank, likes to display a sense of humor. It's a long season. You'd better have some fun along the way.
Wainwright thinks so, anyway:
"Hilarious," Wainwright said of the practical joke. "Those are the kinds of things that keep baseball pretty fun—besides the fact that baseball is already pretty fun."
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- Adam Wainwright
- Lance Berkman