IT'S NO BANANA BOAT And when Ed-die is aboard, he can't give me the slip

He called me a monkey.

Happened yesterday, aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, the 1,246-passenger M.S. Dreamward. The ship was docked at the Dundalk Marine Terminal. And Eddie Murray came aboard to promote its first visit to the Port of Baltimore.


This was Madonna entering a convent, Dan Quayle lecturing at Harvard, Woody Allen dating an adult.

A media event with Eddie.


What could be more bizarre?

The press release arrived at the office last week. I wrestled John Eisenberg to the ground, screaming, "hands off!"

The Eddie "interview" is the easiest workday in American journalism.

I've made it my specialty.

Evening Sun readers might recall my dazzling account of our last rendezvous, at the New York Mets' training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Interview: 8:30 a.m.

To the beach: 8:31.

Turns out the Frown Prince recalled it, too, but more on that in a moment.


The press release said Eddie would be appearing with Woody Woodpecker and other luminaries. Woody can't talk, Eddie won't talk. It's a good thing former Colt Artie Donovan, former Celtic Sam Jones and the Washington Capitals' Alan May also showed up.

"Wish me bad luck!" I called to my wife, Lisa, as I left for another day of truth-seeking.

My 18-month-old son, Sam, started crying.

"Don't worry, daddy will be home in an hour," I told him. "Eddie wouldn't break a little boy's heart."

I arrived promptly at 10 a.m., but publicist Jill Deutsch informed me the luminaries weren't expected until 11.

"Would you like to tour the ship?" Deutsch asked.


Such decisions.

"All aboard!" I cried.

It was a splendid vessel, and -- check this out -- it even had a sports bar. That's where Jill and I waited for Eddie. I explained to her that the Orioles traded Eddie four years ago, but some grudges never die.

"So he's not going to be happy to see you?" she asked.

"You might say that," I replied.

Eddie entered the bar with Sun photographer Amy Davis clicking away. He then did a modified version of the Eddie stroll, avoiding my presence as he circled the bar. He was laughing and smiling, even talking to Amy.


I rose to my full 5 feet 5 1/2 .

It was time for this party to end.

"He called you a monkey," Amy whispered as she departed. "And he's dreading you going over there."

A monkey?

That settles it.

Now I can go play with Michael Jackson.


"I'll leave you a banana at the office," Amy said.

Of course, what Eddie fails to realize is that if he ever granted me an interview, I might actually have to produce an actual story, researching the date he called Memorial Stadium an "ugly place," things like that.

Instead, I take the day off.

Here's the obligatory text of the interview:

"Eddie, can we talk?"

The tried-and-true opening.



The tried-and-true reply.

"But Eddie," I said, barely containing a smile. "This is a made-for-media event."

"Go back and make another joke, Ken."


"That stuff about how you drove all the way across Florida. . . ."


Ah yes, the spring training column.

A three-hour drive for a three-second interview.

Eddie read it!

"Eddie, how about the two nice columns I wrote . . . "

There was one detailing his charity work in Baltimore, another saying he was a lock for the Hall of Fame. Of course, media savant that he is, Eddie missed them.

"I don't operate like that," Eddie said.


Like what?

Ah, forget it.

"Eddie," I said, "I've got no problem with you."

With that, your faithful monkey made his exit, swinging from bar stool to bar stool, another hard day of labor complete.

Jill escorted me to the gangway, looking slightly baffled.

"Can I get you a press kit on the ship?" she asked, fearing I'd have nothing to write.


"Nope," I said, sighing. "I'll just have to gut this one out."

No doubt I'll get a raise.

Not in dollars, but bananas.