After more than four decades of dusty travels entertaining fans around
Jun. 16, 1988
PRIMOS, Pa. (AP) _ After more than four decades of dusty travels entertaining fans around the minor leagues, the ''Clown Prince of Baseball'' was a bit startled by the fast lane.
''Sixteen hundred dollars roundtrip, that's what the plane cost,'' marvelled Max Patkin, who at 68 is getting a chance to show his antics on the Big Screen.
Patkin plays himself in his motion picture debut in ''Bull Durham,'' a baseball comedy opening in theaters this week.
''They picked me up at the airport in a stretch limo a mile long - for just me 3/8 I had a suite at the Century Plaza Hotel, cost $850 a day. Seven telephones, can you believe that? I called my brother and said, 'Who am I going to show this room to?' So he flew out to see it for the weekend.''
Patkin figures the movie will open some doors for him.
''More people will know who I am, and that feels pretty good,'' said Patkin, of nearby King of Prussia in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Patkin's acting career began in the 1940s, when an injury ended the young pitcher's dream of playing in the big leagues. He still made it - but as a baseball clown, contorting his face and prominent nose while mimicking baseball people with exaggerated gestures.
He played the comic role with the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns, but since 1951 he has booked his own dates through the minor leagues.
''I'm in my 43rd straight year and I've never missed a game,'' he said. ''I think it keeps me young.''
Patkin's movie role is no accident. It seems writer-director Ron Shelton caught Patkin's act in the early 1960s while Shelton was a second baseman in the minors.
''He was just a kid,'' Patkin recalled. ''We palled around a little bit back then, and years later he wrote me into the film.''