Denzel Dusts Off a Classic Derek Jeter Story

Trash-talking at Angel Stadium and paying the price

Headshot of Richard Horgan

According to a number of Oscar prognosticators, Denzel Washington is poised to pull off the statistical upset next Sunday and win the 2016 Best Actor Oscar over Casey Affleck, Viggo Mortensen and the rest. As opposed to a decade ago, when he tangled with a different captain fantastic and wound up, comically, on the losing end.

Washington has told this story before, to Grantland’s Daniel Kellison in 2012 for example. But it’s well-worth occasionally repeating, as the actor did during a recent conversation with Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. The anecdote leads off the transcribed Q&A, in response to Fleming asking whether winning an Oscar was better than watching son John David Washington score a touchdown:

“Well, I’ll tell you. I once went to an Angels game and they’re playing the Yankees. Now, I’m the only one sitting there with all-Yankee gear on, right, in Anaheim. And we’re close. So Jeter’s in the batter’s box, and there I am, bragging about my son John David. ‘Oh, Derek… my son is the D Division 2 Player of the Month,’ or something. I’m bragging to everyone, really, out loud, but mainly to my good friend, Derek Jeter.”

“I’m going, ‘Yeah, my son’s the number one rusher in the…’ And Derek, who’s going click, click, click, tapping the dirt from his cleats, he looks up and he goes, ‘Yeah, well, he must have got it from his mother’s side.’ And then, as God is my witness, he gets up and hits a home run. While I’m taking flack. ‘Oh, Denzel, oh.’”

Ha ha. By our calculations, the home run Washington is talking about was most likely the one Jeter hit in the first inning of an April 8, 2006 game. And should Washington win Feb. 26, it will continue another funny baseball strand of sorts. Fences, Training Day and Glory all sound like terms Jeter could have easily used during a post-game interview.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.