By Ben Walker
TAMPA, Fla. - Billy Crystal better stick to his night job.
The comedian, actor and Oscar presenter struck out in his new career as a baseball player Thursday - and promptly struck out as the New York Yankees' new leadoff man.
Wearing No. 60 a day before his 60th birthday, and cheered on by fellow funnyman Robin Williams, Crystal gave himself a chance in the first inning in his only at-bat.
Swinging late against Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm, Crystal bounced a chopper past first baseman Adam LaRoche that landed several feet foul. Crystal got ahead in the count 3-1, but then swung over a pair of 88 mph fastballs.
The crowd gave Crystal a standing ovation, and he raised his hand to salute the fans. Teammate-for-a-day Alex Rodriguez signaled Maholm, who tossed the ball toward the Yankees dugout for a souvenir.
Crystal's debut - and finale - followed the likes of Garth Brooks and Tom Selleck, other celebrities who played in spring training games.
Johnny Damon took over the DH job from Crystal later in the game. Damon was in the spirit, saying it was fine that he sat at the start in place of Crystal.
"He's been around longer," Damon said. "He's got credibility."
Before the game, Crystal worked out on the main diamond at Legends Fields.
"I'm really relaxed, I really am," Crystal said after taking pregame infield practice. "That's until I see the 6-foot-2, 230-pound guy who's going to throw who's never been to a Seder."
His only sign of nervousness: He chomped nonstop on bubblegum.
While fans rooted for a hit, Crystal's actual goal was much more modest.
"I just want to touch it," he said.
And that he did.