Remembering Mets History (1979) SNL's Chico Escuela Visits Mets Spring Training & Attempts a Career Comeback

Bill Murray interviews (Garrett Morris) Chico Escuela

In March 1979, original Saturday Night Live cast member; Garrett Morris joined the Mets at Miller Huggins Field for Spring Training. At the time the Mets were still holding Spring Training in St. Petersburg Florida. 

Garrett Morris was posing as the fictional Mets player, Chico Escuela who wore uniform #5 (cinque). 

Escuela was doing his famous spoof of the Latin players of the time, posing as a popular infielder from the Dominican Republic that didn't speak much English. His legendary catch phrase was "baseball been berry- berry good to me".

"baseball been berry-berry good... to me"
The Chico Escuela character appeared nine times during on SNL's fourth & fifth seasons. He debuted on December 9th, 1978, in a Knight of Columbus sketch as a guest speaker. He then became the Weekend Update Sports reporter, where after being introduced by Jane Curtain, he would reply "tank you Hane".

Chico would comment by using his phrase "baseball been berry-berry good to me". On one Weekend Update segment Chico mentions that "baseball been berry-berry good to Pete Rose". At the time Rose had signed one of baseball biggest multi- million-dollar deals. On another of his sports reports, Escuela admits he don't know about Football or Hockey so he can't comment.

When he does his last broadcast before his attempted baseball comeback, he states Bill Murray was berry-berry good to him but not Hayne.

SNL ran a three-part series aired from April to May 1979 on the comeback attempt of Chico Escuela. Morris (Escuela) was interviewed by his SNL cast mate, the Weekend Update reporter Bill Murray.

During the mock 1979 Spring Training segments we learn that Chico had been a nine time All Star, as well as a member of the 1969 Amazing Mets & 1973 NL Champions. 

In retirement he became the Weekend Update Sports reporter but gave up his job at the sports
desk to make a comeback with the Mets at age 41. 
Chico had also fictionally written a tell all baseball book; "Bad Stuff About the Mets" which ticked off some of the Mets Players.

In good fun, many Mets players are seen in the locker room greeting Chico Escuela at his locker. Short time Met & veteran pitcher Nellie Briles who did not make the club out of Spring Training was interviewed about the fake book, as was Steve Henderson who said, "As far as I am concerned Chico can pack his bags now." Other Mets visible in the clip are Joel Youngblood, Bruce Boisclair, Dan Norman, Pat Zachary & pitching coach Rube Walker.

Bill Murray & Ed Kranepool

Bruce Boisclair Chico Escuela & Ed Kranepool
Ed Kranepool does the biggest interview with Murray, after he grabs a throw meant for Chico, he turns his back on him. Murray comments that in the book Escuela accuses Kranepool of borrowing his soap & never returning it.

Murray also reads from the book saying, Tom Seaver took up two parking spaces, to which Kranepool replies not true.

On April 14th, 1979, Part Two of his comeback was aired. Murray comments if Chico doesn't make it back in baseball his only options are going back to the SNL sports desk or smuggle drugs out of the Dominican Republic.  

During this night game, we see Escuela playing in a simulated game with the AL New York team. Escuela is a big hit with the fans.  not only steals home on a suicide squeeze & makes an outstanding play on the infield but also hits the game winning walk off grand slam HR.

The actual at bats are clips of Steve Henderson. Bobby Valentine can be seen as the runner on third base coming to score on the game winning HR.

After the game he receives congratulations & an oil painting as a gift from non-other than Hall of Famer Willie Mays. Mays was a coach with the Mets at the times.

In the final segment aired May 12th, 1979, Bill Murray reports age finally caught up with Escuela as he is seen making errors on the field. 

The final blow to his career literally came when a Steve Garvey liner hit him below the belt causing him to lose his breath & eventually ending his career. 

Garrett Morris would play Chico Escuela in three more episodes of SNL during Season #5.

Years later, Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa would reference Escuela's catch phrase during an interview.


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