On Oct. 20, 2001, at Yankee Stadium during the eighth inning of Mariners-Yankees ALCS Game 3 (the Bombers lost, 14-3).WFAN’s Chris Russo was sitting downstairs behind home plate with his father, Tony, and two other friends. Francesa was not with Russo’s party.
Two people – a man and a teenage girl – walked up to Russo and verbally accosted him. The man was the actor Mark Consuelos (above), a close friend of Randolph’s. Consuelos is married to Kelly Ripa, co-host of ABC’s “Live With Regis (Philbin) and Kelly.” The woman was one of Randolph’s daughters.
On Wednesday night, I asked Russo about this incident. He confirmed it and related the experience.
“I thought they (Consuelos and Randolph’s daughter) were coming to get an autograph so I welcomed them,” Russo said. “The next thing I know they were both going nuts about how Mike and I killed Willie as a third base coach and how we know nothing about baseball. It was nasty. The language was bad enough that a security person came up.
“I told the security guy to leave them alone. They had a right to talk,” Russo continued. “But I didn’t realize Consuelos was going to keep going on and on and on. He got right in my face. Then they both started in with stuff like, ‘What the (blank) do you know about baseball?’ Then they were saying: ‘You’re ugly, you have a big nose.’ It was bad. My father had to watch all this. This went on for about seven minutes. They finally left. It was a weird situation.”
At the time, Russo didn’t know the identity of the two people who had confronted him. He found out through Suzyn Waldman, whose friends saw the incident. Russo said he did not make an issue of the episode during “The Mike and the Mad Dog” show because it would have amounted to knocking Randolph “for no reason.”
Still, did the confrontation ultimately lead Russo to be so vehement in his opposition to Randolph becoming Mets manager?
“No,” Russo told me. “Absolutely not.”
“But look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m not human. This has bothered me for a while,” Russo said. “This particular situation shows a sensitivity Willie has with criticism and it should worry you if you are a Mets fan.”
Last night while covering the hiring of the city’s first African-American manager, MSG’s John Giaonne cited Randolph’s “rabbit ears” and suggested the new Mets skipper would need to learn to handle criticism. So perhaps this story about the angry soap opera actor was common knowledge in certain circles.