Alex Rodriguez came to the MLB as one of the hottest prospects in baseball.
He entered the league at the age of 18 (just one year after he was selected by the Mariners with the first overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft), and while A-Rod struggled a bit in his first campaign, he quickly managed to live up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon him en route to emerging as one of the best players in the league.
While his career was tarnished by the steroid allegations that surfaced in the late 2000s, he was an undeniable superstar and is one of the nine MLB players in history who managed to hit more than 600 home runs before hanging up their cleats.
Rodriguez was an almost unstoppable force on the diamond, but he also earned a reputation as a bit of a self-obsessed “pretty boy” off of the field.
It wasn’t exactly a secret that he was very concerned with his image and went to great lengths to ensure he remained in the best shape possible, and he admitted his ego played a role in the infamous picture where he kissed himself in the mirror during a photo shoot for Details magazine.
However, it seems like he was less concerned with counting calories in his younger days, as he apparently had a habit of stopping at various fast food restaurants and bringing his order with him to the ballpark for a pregame meal.
I can’t really say I blame him, as he was a professional athlete who could probably get away with chowing down on whatever tasted good in his late teens and early 20s. With that said, he definitely did not get away with an ill-fated trip to Taco Bell that drew the ire of one of his teammates.
The time Jay Buhner smashed Alex Rodriguez’s Taco Bell order with a bat
The story in question unfolded when A-Rod headed down to Kansas City to play the Royals on the road for the first time midway through June during his rookie season in 1994.
While all of his teammates had shown up on time to participate in the on-field hitting practice session that was scheduled before the game, Rodriguez apparently rolled in late, which presumably had something to do with the bag of Taco Bell he was holding when he finally arrived.
The development apparently didn’t sit well with some of his teammates, who’d been enduring the 106°F temperature that was recorded in Kansas City that day. While the rookie apparently tried to extend a peace offering in the form of the extra food he’d grabbed with his fellow players in mind, veteran outfielder Jay Buhner was having absolutely none of it.
Mariners pitcher Chris Bosio was in the dugout when Buhner encountered Rodriguez enjoying his meal, and recalled the “high-spirited Texan with a bald head” approaching Alex before asking, “What are you doing? How come you’re not out here early?” only to be told, “Oh man, I’m just having some tacos. I was starving.”
While Buhner was known for being a pretty chill guy despite his fairly imposing demeanor, that apparently didn’t sit well with him. After asking A-Rod if there was enough to go around, his teammate responded, “Yeah man, I got plenty,” so Jay took Alex up on his offer by grabbing the bag before tossing it up in the air, gripping his bat, and bashing the uneaten Taco Bell into the wall of the dugout.
I don’t think most people would have trouble interpreting that message, but Buhner didn’t leave anything to doubt, as he told Rodriguez, “Don’t ever be late for early hitting again, rookie. Now clean this s*** up!”
You kind of have to feel for Rodriguez, but at the same time, every rookie—regardless of how much potential they show—should know they need to pay their dues and go out of their way to make a good impression (which usually means avoiding situations where you show up late to practice with Taco Bell in tow).
However, I’m a sucker for a good rookie hazing story, and I can’t think of a better way to humble a first-year MLB player than forcing him to pick ground beef, lettuce, and shattered taco shells off of the floor (and probably wall) of the dugout.
For all we know, this was the wake-up call that help A-Rod punch his ticket to the All-Star Game 14 times before everything was said and done.