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Q+A Pat Sajak

The longtime Wheel of Fortune maestro now presides over The Pat
Sajak Baseball Hour, a weekly baseball talk show on MLB Radio
that he cohosts with former big leaguer Billy Sample.

SI: How big a baseball fan are you?

Sajak: I'm a huge fan, but I'm not one of those statistical
nuts. I love the pace of the game and the tradition of it, the
fact that it connects my childhood and my son's childhood--all
that George Will poetic stuff.

SI: You grew up in Chicago and have said you're both a Cubs and a
White Sox fan. You've also said that you root for the Orioles and
the Dodgers. Is there any team you don't root for?

Sajak: I'm politically correct if nothing else. I could throw the
Angels in there as well.

SI: If you were to interview Kent Hrbek, would you suggest he buy
a vowel?

Sajak: H-r could use one. Al Hrabosky too. Someone like Doug
Mientkiewicz, he's got a surplus and could give away a few. Also,
Kazuhisa Ishii could sell one of his i's. That would simplify
everyone's life.

SI: You work 39 days a year taping Wheel. How do you find the
time to do a weekly one-hour radio show?

Sajak: I cut back on other things.

SI: What development was more significant--the designated hitter
in 1972 or touch-sensitive letters in '97, so Vanna White didn't
have to turn them over?

Sajak: I know which ruined a game more--the DH.

SI: How do you compare Sample to Vanna as a cohost?

Sajak: It's hard to find Billy a gown he won't trip on.

SI: Wheel of Fortune has been the top-rated syndicated show for
19 seasons. Is it the Yankees of game shows?

Sajak: Yes, except if I break down, our bullpen's thin. If the
Yankees lose a part, they can buy a replacement.

SI: Who's a better manager--Merv Griffin, who hired you, or Joe

Sajak: Merv is an owner and a manager, so you'd have to fuse
Torre and George Steinbrenner. That is an operation I don't want
to be in the room for.

SI: Which is the more dangerous duo: Maddux and Glavine, or Pat
and Vanna?

Sajak: Well, Pat and Vanna have more personality.

SI: Finally, can you give me any lovely parting gifts?

Sajak: No, but I want that on my tombstone. "Here lies Pat Sajak.
Hope he got some lovely parting gifts." Don't you think that
would be nice? --Pete McEntegart

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT TRACHTENBERG "I'm not a statistical nut"