If you haven't already, make sure you read Dan Connolly's story about Chris Jakubauskas and Lance Berkman. It's a great account of the Berkman line drive that nearly ended Jak's career, with both players weighing in on how the incident affected them. Check it out right here.
Now I can tell my favorite Berkman story, which is a lot more fun:
Back when I was The Sun's national baseball writer and Berkman was just breaking out as a big-time power hitter with the Houston Astros, one of my favorite editors (Ray Frager) thought it would be a great idea if I met the Astros in Florida and did a story on how he might turn out to be the greatest Jewish power hitter since Hank Greenberg. So I headed down to Joe Robbie Stadium -- or whatever they called it then -- and found then-Astros PR guy Warren Miller to set me up with an interview.
He thought it was pretty interesting that somebody would come from Baltimore to see Berkman, who has no Mid-Atlantic connections, so he asked me what my angle was going to be. When I told him, he laughed and ruined my day.
"That would be a great angle if Lance were Jewish,'' he said.
Well, I felt about three inches tall, and began to shrink further when Warren yelled across the clubhouse to Berkman.
"Hey Lance,'' he said. "I've got another writer here who thinks you're Jewish."
Berkman looked up and smiled, so I went over to talk to him, figuring I'd just do a standard feature on one of baseball's up-and-coming stars.
"So I'm not the first guy to make that mistake,'' I said.
"No," he replied, "but don't feel bad. You are the first guy who ever flew 1,000 miles to do it."
How could you not like that guy? I've been a fan ever since.