The No. 1 Draw In Sports? I Hate To Tell You

July 19, 1998

Please, somebody, stop them.

They're making our ballparks unsafe. They're causing fisticuffs
and all-out brawls. They require extra police protection. Yes,
they're the dreaded....Beanie Babies.

Don't be fooled! They may look huggable, but so does Drew
Barrymore. If we aren't careful, these little bags of beans will
take over sports altogether!

No? No? Look what Beanie Babies did to last week's All-Star Game
in Denver. All those who entered Coors Field were given a little
stuffed bear named Glory and a little card to prove they got him
at the game. Sound fine? Pah! It was like the fall of Saigon.
Marauding Beanie Baby collectors hounded fans, begging them to
sell their Glorys. Some offered as much as $500. One lady had a
sign: WILL SELL MY CHILD FOR GLORY. There was a brawl at one
stadium gate. Police had to take over distribution. One All-Star
volunteer was charged with stealing a box of the little demon
beasts. Of course, the box of 27 bears was said to be worth
about $4,000 on the street.

Listen, these little buggers will corrupt your soul. Before the
New York Mets gave away Batty the Bat on Sunday, they had to
hire 24-hour security to guard the boxes for four days. Hey, you
never know when a pack of eight-year-olds is going to tunnel up
from Brooklyn.

Earlier this season, in Detroit, people started arriving at
Tiger Stadium at 6:30 in the morning for a 7:30 p.m. game. Were
they dying to see Ken Griffey Jr.? Nah. Stripes the Tiger, a
four-ounce legume receptacle. For a Cubs day game at Wrigley
Field, obsessed Beanie weenies sat out in lawn chairs beginning
at midnight. They wanted Daisy the Cow, a memorial to the late
Harry Caray. Daisy is now valued at more than $500. Harry who?

This is what it has come to in sports: Why give a $10
million-a-year contract to Randy Johnson when Smoochy the Frog
(Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Aug. 14) will sell out the house a
lot cheaper? Why sign bonus babies when you can sign Beanie
Babies? You know what's next, right?

Superstar slugger: Uh, you wanted to see me, Skip?

Manager: Yeah, Reggie. Tough luck. You've been traded to the
Padres. We got a helluva deal, though--30,000 Lucky the Ladybugs.

Slugger: That's it?

Manager: No. We got the little cards, too.

It's not just baseball. Last season the Philadelphia 76ers used
Baldy the Eagle to sell out a game against the Golden State
Warriors. The Golden State Warriors! "Man, I couldn't believe
the crowds waiting to get those Beanie Babies," said Sixers
forward Tim Thomas. "I thought they must be stuffed with money."

It's a disease. People have attacked UPS trucks outside toy
boutiques in hopes that a shipment of Beanie Babies was on
board. McDonald's has gone through 250 million Teenie Beanie
Babies. Turnstile operators around the country will tell you
that a lot of people get into the ballpark, get their Beanie
Baby, turn right around and leave. It's un-American!

When David Wells pitched his perfect game in May, it was Beanie
Baby night at Yankee Stadium (Valentino the Bear). Nearly 50,000
people turned out, as opposed to the 16,600 who had showed up
for his last start. Valentino, Wells's glove and a ticket stub
are now in the Hall of Fame.

You see? Step by step, an invasion! Beanie Babies are the new
national pastime! Listen to what Houston Astros marketing vice
president Pam Gardner said recently: "If Mark McGwire keeps
hitting homers...he could rival Beanie Babies." Oh, no! A
260-pound, record-breaking home run hitter bigger than a $6
furball stuffed in China? God forbid!

There are people who walk the stadium aisles on Beanie Baby
nights, handing spectators $50 to $100 just for the
commemorative card that comes with the toy. Scoundrels that they
are, they take the cards and couple them with Beanie Babies that
weren't given away that night and then dupe collectors.

You see? These little scrunchy monsters are eroding the moral
fiber of this country!

If you can't take it anymore, pack up your Glorys and your
Battys and your Baldys and send them to me. I promise, I'll burn
them in a Glory-ous bonfire as a protest against this ridiculous
and demeaning trend that's humiliating our great sports.

(Be sure to include the little cards.)

B/W PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [Rick Reilly]

"Man, I couldn't believe the crowds waiting to get those Beanie
Babies."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)