Legendary actor and comedian Jerry Stiller died at the age of 92 on Sunday from natural causes. Stiller had many memorable roles over the course of his career, but none may be as iconic as when he played Frank Costanza -- George's father -- on "Seinfeld."
One of the most memorable moments throughout the show's history came when Stiller's character had an interaction with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. In "The Caddy" episode, which aired in January 1996, Steinbrenner has to go tell George Costanza's parents that he is dead after George (when really he just took an unapproved vacation.)
During the exchange, Frank Costanza flies off the handle and questions Steinbrenner about the one-sided trade of outfielder Jay Buhner from the Yankees to the Seattle Mariners.
"What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for,?!" Stiller's character exclaims. "He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year, he's got a rocket for an arm, you don't know what the hell you're doin'"
Frank Costanza then relays the news of his son George's "death" to Jerry Seinfeld with a simple message on his answering machine:
"Jerry, it's Frank Costanza. Mr. Steinbrenner's here, George is dead, call me back!"
In 1988, the Yankees traded Buhner to the Mariners in exchange for slugger Ken Phelps. Buhner was in Triple-A at the time but went on to hit 310 home runs during his 15-year career with the Mariners. Of course, the Yankees went on a run and won four championships between 1996 and 2000, but before the success, the Buhner trade was a thorn in the side of many Yankees fans -- including the fictional Frank Costanza:
It is one of the more memorable episodes related to sports in a show that has countless memorable moments.
Prior to his death in 2010, Steinbrenner revealed that "The Caddy" was one of his favorite episodes of "Seinfeld." He called it "sick, but hilarious," according to Peter Botte of the New York Post.
Upon hearing the news of Stiller's passing, many fans of the show were quick to bring up the Buhner scene in remembering the comedian.
I was never the hardcore 'Seinfeld' fan I'm sure a lot of you are, but my dad was obsessed with the show. While I didn't watch it regularly, Frank Costanza was always in my home.— Certifiably Sub-Par (@Michael_AC23) May 11, 2020
As a baseball fan, I will always laugh at Jerry Stiller delivering his great Jay Buhner rant.#RIP pic.twitter.com/ttXOG27CD6
“What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for? He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing!”— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 11, 2020
RIP the brilliant Jerry Stiller.
It's truly hilarious that Buhner was the first thing that sports fans thought of when learning of Stiller's passing. The delivery was amazing and one of the reasons that Stiller thrived as characters like Frank Costanza and later as Arthur Spooner on "King of Queens."