This Weekend: Erik Estrada and Pat Sajak
Eleven summers ago, Erik Estrada spent several weeks hosting a Branson, Mo. live onstage version of "Wheel of Fortune." No, seriously. And that, near as I can tell, was the closest link between the former "CHiPs" star and Pat Sajak.
Until this weekend in our fair metropolis, that is. Saturday evening, 6:35 p.m., Pfitzner Stadium: the Potomac Nationals host Internet Safety Night with Erik Estrada. Sunday afternoon, 2:05 p.m, Prince George's Stadium: the Bowie Baysox host Pat Sajak Day with, believe it or not, Pat Sajak. Two days, two minor-league teams, two television legends, two hastily arranged phone interviews with men who have virtually nothing to do with sports. Hey, you try blogging about D.C. sports in late May.
But you want to know which television legend to see this weekend, right?
"Boy, that's a tough call," Sajak said this afternoon. "There were a lot of 'CHiPs' fans, and they had that groovy music. It's a tough thing. Luckily, we're on different days, so people CAN make both."
"Two different guys, two different entities, but still, we're both likable," Estrada added. "Anyway, he looks like my partner from 'CHiPs.' Actually, he looks like Harlan the mechanic."
The vibe at these two events promises to be slightly different. Estrada is a spokesman and extremely passionate lobbyist for the Safe Surfin' Foundation and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, and will be helping educate baseball-watching youngsters and their parents about the dangers lurking on the Internet.
"We've got too many sexual predators; we can't build enough jails, we can't capture enough of these pukes to stick in cages, you know what I'm saying?" he told me. "So the best way to do it is to educate our children so they become savvy, and so this next generation grows into parents that are savvy surfers."
Sajak, meantime, will be throwing out the first pitch for Sunday's game against the Fisher Cats, where the first 1,250 fans will get Pat Sajak bobbleheads promoting the radio station he owns, 1430 WNAV.
"Just what every little boy wants, a bobblehead of a game show host," noted Sajak, who had already been enshrined in bobbleness once before, wearing a suit instead of a baseball jersey. "There's one thing that's true about all bobbleheads: they never actually look like the person they're supposed to be. My theory is there's only actually one bobblehead in the world, and they just paint a new face on it. Erik Estrada, Cate Blanchett, they all pretty much look alike."
Like I said, slightly different vibes. Estrada will be playing something of the Sajak role on Saturday, asking P-Nats fans trivia questions about Internet security and giving them the chance to win fabulous prizes, but he refused to say he would model himself after the "Wheel of Fortune" host, instead promising to "leave myself open for improvisation." Sajak, on the other hand, figures to stop by the play-by-play booth; "I'll screw up as many things as I can while I'm there," he said. "I'm big and important; what can they really do to me if I mess it up?"
Oh, and if you can't make it to Woodbridge on Saturday, never fear; the Baysox are attempting to set a world record for the most number of people simultaneously playing the kazoo during the 7th inning stretch that night, while three-time world pizza acrobat champion Joe Carlucci will attempt to break the world record for the highest pizza toss after the game.
So yeah. Anyhow, another May day in the books around here, and that makes two Pat Sajak items in this space over two months. "I'll see you at the Jai-Alai contest," he said as we wished each other farewell.
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