Rick Cerone: Another Bronx Zoo Tale.

Rick Cerone: Another Bronx Zoo Tale.

If you have followed baseball for as long as I have, you will have sooner or later developed an interest in the careers of certain guys that never even come close to playing for your particular team. As an older-than-they-are Colt .45s/Astros fan, catcher Rick Cerone is such a guy in my books. Rick did play briefly for AAA Charleston of the International League in 1977, when that club was a farm team of the Astros, so, you could make the case that Cerone came close to Houston, but just didn’t get here.  I always liked him, anyway,  for his fiery spirit and ability – and for his willingness to stand up for himself. He simply didn’t take these positions of assertion in ways that might  help his job security during the latter stages of the Bronx Zoo era. And that’s putting it mildly.

Besides, standing up for yourself is not about job security. It is about self respect. It’s how you do it and with whom you do it that determines your fate on the job – and Rick was working in the “Bronx Zoo” when his major stands took place, More on that in a moment.

Born May 19, 1954 in Newark, New Jersey, Cerone was a natural cultural and personality fit for the latter-day 20th century New York Yankees, but he entered pro ball as the 7th pick in the 1975 1st round amateur draft out of Seton Hall University. It was the beginning of an 18-season big league career that included stops with the Indians (1975-76), the Blue Jays (1977-79), the Yankees (1st time, 1980-84), the Braves (1985), the Brewers (1986), the Yankees (2nd time, 1987), the Red Sox (1988-89), the Yankees (3rd time, 1990), the Mets (1991), and the Expos (1992).

For his career, Rick Cerone (BR/TR) (5’11”, 192 lbs.) batted .245 as a major leaguer. He slammed 59 career home runs and he fell two hits shy of 1,000 on the career hits list. Defensively, I always felt he called and played a pretty good and aggressive game too. He gunned down 37% of the attempted base stealers he saw and – as i saw it – he seemed able to fire up his pitching battery mates when the chips were on the line.

Unfortunately or not (or that’s just how it was), Rick Cerone had an anger flash point that got him in frequent trouble in the Bronx with people like owner George Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin. Those guys had flash tempers too – and a lot more power over the answers to “What next?” any time a conflict broke out on the team.

His Mouth Over-Ran His Mind.

It wasn’t hard to do the math on conflict outcomes in the Bronx: (1) Owner Steinbrenner goes on a tirade in the Yankee clubhouse. Player Cerone responds with expletive laced comments on the boss’s weight and lack of playing experience. Cerone gets dealt away from the Yankees. (2) Manager Martin calls out catcher Cerone in his own fit of rage for calling pitches that the other club clobbers for game-winning hits. Cerone curses back and throws his equipment at the manager. Cerone gets dealt away from the Yankees (again).

A 2009 article by Matt Gagne of the New York Daily News detailing Cerone’s current attempts to get back into post-playing career work in baseball with somebody seems to bear out my earlier impressions of the old temper factor. I’m not sure if anything has developed for Rick since last summer, but the article does a pretty fair job of mapping the relationship hill that Cerone needs to climb to get his next chance in the game.

Here’s the link:





Cerone’s current problem finding new employment in baseball probably is best captured in this one statement he made for the Gagne article. About his current search for work in baseball broadcasting, Rick said: “I’ve sent out some resume tapes, but when you don’t get callbacks at all – when people you’ve worked with for years don’t have the decency to to call back, or email, or text – you know what, I don’t beg.”

You know what, Rick? If people fear your temper, they aren’t going to jump to hire you. False pride has to heal before any honest rebuilding can start – and your potential employers in baseball out there have to believe you’re on the right road before some of them maybe, just maybe,  become willing to give you another shot.

This isn’t about begging. It’s about stepping up – and owning up to your own behavior with someone who is willing to (maybe)  give you another opportunity. If I was hiring, Rick,  I would be willing to give you a chance because I think you possess a core passion for the game and a real understanding about the importance of loyalty as a result of these experiences that money alone can never buy. It’s just up to you to get that message across to real potential employers who may find it easier to look for someone who’s background is less passionate, but also less “colorful.”

Heck. If he can handle it. I’d rather hire Rick Cerone any day of the week. If I’m your potential employer, Rick, (again) it’s up to you to show me why I should take the risk of trusting you.

That’s it, except for one more thought: Good Luck!

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2 Responses to “Rick Cerone: Another Bronx Zoo Tale.”

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  2. mike Dietz Says:

    Rick Cerone is a great guy. I remember golfing with him at the
    Boca Ration CC back in the day. He used to come in our bar in Clearwater,fl and always a gentleman. BTW he shot a 75 & myself
    a 119. Quite frankly !!! anyone else would have dropped me off at the turn. Godspeed Rick-ster
    I still have the score card signed by you & I

    Buffalo Mike Dietz

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