10 QUESTIONS FOR KEITH HERNANDEZ

Ken Hoffman tees up Keith Hernandez on kissing Elaine on Seinfeld and visiting Houston this weekend

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This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Keith Hernandez batted .294 over his 18-year Major League Baseball career. He shared the National League MVP Award in 1979, starred on two World Series champions, played in five All-Star games, won a batting title, 11 Gold Glove Awards in 11 consecutive seasons, holds the record for game-winning RBI, was named to the New York Mets all-time greatest team and is considered the best-fielding first baseman ever.

Wow! What an amazing career. Hernandez will be in Houston this weekend for Tristar Sports' 34th annual Sports Memorabilia and Autograph Show at NRG Arena. Other sports heroes appearing for autograph sessions are Joe Montana, Lance McCullers, Randy Johnson, Ryne Sandberg, Yuli Gurriel, Brooks Robinson, and dozens more. Visit the official site for celebrities, tickets, and times.

I'd love to talk baseball with you, Keith Hernandez but I've got my priorities straight: Tell me about the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman accused you of spitting on them after a Mets game and you got to kiss Elaine! TV Guide ranked Seinfeld the "Greatest Show in Television History" and the two-part episode with Hernandez, titled "The Boyfriend," the greatest episode of the greatest show. Even bigger wow!

CultureMap: What's tougher, facing a Nolan Ryan fastball or not laughing doing a scene with George Costanza on Seinfeld?

Keith Hernandez: For me, the Seinfeld episode. But the funniest guy was Newman. It was hardest to keep a straight face when Newman and Kramer walked into Jerry's apartment and saw that I was there. They brought up the game against Philadelphia where I made an error and cost the Mets the game and ruined their day and accused me of spitting on them.

CM: How did you get the role on Seinfeld? Did you call them or did they call you?

KH: It was 1991, the year after I retired from baseball. Ironically, they went through my last baseball agent, who wasn't under my employ anymore. It was Scott Boras. They called him in Los Angeles and he called me and said, 'Do you want to do this sitcom called Seinfeld?'

I was a baseball player and we play mostly night games, so I never watched prime time television. I still don't. (Hernandez is a broadcaster for the Mets.) I didn't know what the Seinfeld show was. Scott Boras said they just wanted me for a guest shot. And that's how the ball got rolling. (The story goes, if Hernandez had said no, Seinfeld producers were going to ask Mets catcher Gary Carter.)

CM: Like most Seinfeld fans, I've seen every episode, oh, about 20 times and can practically recite the scripts by heart. Seinfeld seems to air on every station around the clock now. How many times have you seen your episode?

KH: I do not watch it. I've seen it twice, once when it first aired in 1992 and one other time. I just get embarrassed. I think I did OK, but it's embarrassing to watch yourself. I had a ton of lines and I did memorize them and I didn't screw up." (Hernandez still receives $3,000 in royalties each year for his Seinfeld appearance.)

CM: What were you doing the year after you retired from baseball?

KH: I was doing nothing. I had back surgery and I was recovering from that. That's why I retired at 37. It took me a year to recover. I wasn't in a wheelchair, but I was working my way back physically from a serious operation.

CM: When you were a kid, did you ever imagine that people would stand in line for your autograph or take a photo with you?

KH: Absolutely not. I grew up in California in the era of the San Francisco Giants and Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. If they had sold baseball jerseys in my day like they do today, I would have had a Mickey Mantle jersey, number 7, on my back. Mickey Mantle was my idol. I happen to share a birthday with him. I certainly would have badgered my dad to take me to an autograph show like this weekend in Houston.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out what Keith Hernandez thought of the Seinfeld script when he first read it, and much more.

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