Rainy day story: when David Cone surfed aisle as Jays charter landed

By Bob Elliott

NEW YORK _ Duke Snider’s wife Beverly never liked rainy days in Brooklyn.

When the sign outside Ebbet’s Field read ‘no game today - rain’ newspapers published the next day anyway.

And her Hall of Fame husband, the Duke of Flatbush, would often say something to make headlines and get himself in trouble with management.

The sign outside Yankee Stadium on Thursday was changed to ‘no game today - rain’ and the Toronto Sun will still publish.

But what will you read?

That this is a big series.

How ‘bout a rainy day story?

How ‘bout the night Blue Jays David Cone went surfing on the Toronto charter?

The story goes that on the Jays first trip after Cone was acquired from the New York Mets, the stretch DC8 MGM charter left Pearson, touched down at Kansas City International and Cone sped down the aisle on a airline magazine.

“True,” said Cone, now a Yankee broadcaster, “It’s not something I would do now. I was young and foolish.

“Actually it was one of those laminated safety cards they had in the back of each seat pocket.”

You know the kind: how to buckle your seat belt, put on your oxygen mask and how to sit in event of a crash landing. No where on the laminated card did it read do not stand up on the card and surf down the aisle.

“Pat Gillick’s scouting report on me was ‘flaky, great stuff and a competitor’ and flaky was definitely listed first,” said Cone. “I was trying to loosen up the crew a little. I sensed they were a little tight.”

Roughly four hours after Todd Stottlemyre had beaten the Minnesota Twins 4-2 at the SkyDome on Ed Sprague’s three-run homer, the Jays and their 1 1/2 game lead touched down in KC.

Cone was up out of his seat as the plane charged down the runway, standing on the laminated card and holding onto the arm rests as Jimmy Key, David Wells and Stottlemyre gave him encouragement at the back of the plane.

“The key is not to let go until the pilot hits the breaks and you had to time it just right,” said Cone, catapulted down the aisle by the forward movement of the plane. Someone like Jeff Francis, who took physics, could probably explain the inertia and the g-force which made Cone appear as if he was shot from a cannon.

“I probably made it half way up the plane before I came to a stop,” Cone said. “Guys were high-fiving me. Kelly Gruber got a kick out of it. Tom Henke had a startled look on his face.”

Jays broadcaster Pat Tabler was on the plane that Sunday and remembers Cone careening down the aisle. What did he think of his new teammate, the hired gun brought in to get the Jays to their first World Series whizzing by at break neck speed (as planes move anywhere from 140-to-190 mph upon landing)?

“I’d seen teammates do it before when I was with the Cleveland Indians,” said Tabler.

Cone picked up the trick from his days with the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets. But he wasn’t sure exactly who.

We would have loved to have looked at pictures of:

A) Cone surfing.

B) The look on the faces off manager Cito Gaston and Gillick watching their new addition, who could have injured himself ramming his shoulder into the back of a seat, or his knee on an arm rest. 

Cone was acquired Aug. 27 and made two starts at home. He lost his first 7-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers (seven runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings on seven hits and seven walks), beat Minnesota 16-5 (four earned in six innings on seven hits and four walks) and then went aisle walking.

From stunned looks from some on the plane to absolute pandemonium once the team reached the bus according to Cone.

“They understood the craziness of it all,” said Cone. Gaston once said Cone made him the most relaxed of any starter he ever managed. 

The Jays won five of seven on Cone’s surfing trip to KC and Arlington, Tex. taking the division in Game 161 with a 3-1 decision over the Detroit Tigers. 

And to think when Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig used to assume themselves by taking a bite out a rookie’s straw hat on the train ride from New York to Boston.  

Cone made 28 starts for the Jays in 1992, including post-season and his second engagement in 1995 going 14-10 and surfed down the aisle once.

All you young uns heading off to pitching showcases this fall: don’t try this on your next flight. 

Sometime pals: Jays left fielder Ben Revere has arranged for a suite at the Georgia Dome Monday night when the Philadelphia Eagles play the Atlanta Falcons. The Jays have the day off before starting a series against the Braves.
“I had one friend with the Eagles Brandon Boykin,” said Revere, who talked to deep back only to find out he’d been traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “He said to me ‘good luck in Philly.’ I told him I was traded too.”
Addred Revere with a laugh “Hey ... maybe we’re not even that good friends after all. Neither of us knew the other had been traded.” 

Scout and about: James Lentine, an outfielder who played three years with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers, will be named Jays amateur scout of the year when the Webster award winners are announced. He’s an area scout in California.