Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Benjamin L. Signs with the Tigers

GUESS WHERE, Mich. -- Benjamin Andrew L. signed a lifetime contract with the Detroit Tigers baseball team today after nine months of negotiations with his agents, his mother, Christine K., and father, Ron L.

Although Ben has no batting, pitching or fielding statistics, he bulked up over the past nine months to reach 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and he grew to 20.5 inches at birth, at 11:53 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.

Hordes of reporters assembled at University of Guess Where Hospital, and the departure of Benjamin and his mother from the hospital was delayed until the early afternoon of the following Wednesday.

Christine had some minor complications but now is continuing her recovery at home, according to sources who requested anonymity ... and received it.

"I'm thrilled," Christine said about Benjamin's birth and his subsequent signing with Detroit. "But I thought the Tigers were a minor-league team."

The future All-Star will play multiple positions at the same time for the Tigers. "We could use the help," Manager Alan Trammell said. "We've been waiting for someone like 'Big Ben' for a long time."

Terms of the contract were not disclosed. But ESPN reported that Benjamin received a signing bonus that included several bottles of ready-to-feed Similac formula and stuffed toys.

The youngest-ever pro sports prospect (the previous record holder was a 7-year-old girl signed last year by the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team) has asked for his own lounge chair and a locker away from his other teammates.

"Waaa-hhhh. Waaa-hhhh. Oogh. Oogh. Waaa-hhhh," Benjamin said at a news conference, sounding much like his father during tense newsroom times.

Benologists -- out of work Kremlinologists -- took that quote to mean that Benjamin was happy to sign with the Tigers but did not want to be nicknamed "Pudge."

Callisto, the wonder kitty, who observers feared would be threatened by the introduction of a teammate to the household, was seen nudging Benjamin with her nose and brushing her tail across Benjamin's face.


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