When the modern history of NYC sports radio is written, some will undoubtedly credit Imus, Chris Russo or Mike Francesca or some combination of the 3 for WFAN’s standing as the nation’s first successful sports yack outlet (and with the possible exception of WEEI, still the most commercially successful). And while all of the above deserve some acknowledgement (Imus, for instance, is a creepy jogging shoe fetishist with serious racial hangups), the real station’s real stars have long been it’s loony callers. The infamous Jerome From Manhattan was profiled by the New York Times’ J.F. Gill back in October of 2004, and today, overexcited (and recently MIA) Mets fan Short Al of Brooklyn gets the Paper Of Record’s full treatment, courtesy of the Times’ Corey Kilgannon (thanks to Mac McCaughan for the link)
Short Al suddenly disappeared from WFAN™s airwaves last year, leading some listeners to worry that he had joined the great lineup of FANdroids who have died, including John from Sandy Hook and Doris from Rego Park. œI can™t tell you how many times people called in and asked, ˜Why hasn™t he been calling? What happened?™ said Marc Malusis, another of WFAN™s overnight hosts.
Short Al™s familiar phone number yielded no answer, but Mr. Malusis finally managed to find out ” œSomeone had a friend in law enforcement, he explained ” that Short Al from Brooklyn was Albert Kaufman, an 81-year-old retired letter carrier and a widower. Last year, Mr. Kaufman was hospitalized after a fall, and he left his Marine Park apartment to live with a daughter in Bensonhurst.
œHe™s doing fine except for one thing, Mr. Malusis said. œHe can™t call anymore. His daughter won™t let him.
Reached at his daughter™s apartment, Mr. Kaufman ” in his familiar Brooklyn accent ” confirmed that she did indeed put the kibosh on 4 a.m. phone calls to WFAN-AM (660).
Mr. Kaufman agreed to meet at a diner near his daughter™s apartment. He had already had his morning bagel, so he ordered coffee and coconut custard pie. Immediately, he went into a FANdroid-worthy rant ” œHow could a manager leave a pitcher in that long? ” about the Mets™ defeat the previous night.
As if making up for all those call-ins he missed, Short Al talked about how much potential he sees in Omir Santos, a Mets catcher, and declared that the Yankees should make their catcher, Jorge Posada, a designated hitter. He rattled off the starting lineups from the 1941 World Series between the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, and then for the 1944 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns. All before the waitress brought his slice of pie.