Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Al Leiter listed as an 'outside the box wildcard' replacement for N.J. senator

Al Leiter has never kept his political aspirations to himself but the YES announcer and former major league pitcher was more than surprised to find his name mentioned in a report as an "outside the box wildcard" candidate to replace the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

The former Yankees, Mets, and Blue Jays pitcher — and the pride of Toms River, N.J. — is a longtime friend of fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie — a huge Mets fan.  Christie can appoint Lautenberg's replacement but is leaning towards holding a special election.

Leiter was listed by Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Katz as a candidate earlier this week. When the former hurler was asked by ESPNNewYork's Andrew Marchand yesterday about it, he responded, "Who wouldn’t be interested if the governor of your state for whatever reason of their due process thought [you were] worthy, in their opinion? So, yeah, I would be interested."

After a career that included a sterling performance in the Mets' 1999 one-game playoff win against the Reds and superb bullpen work for the Yankees in the 2005 postseason, the 47-year-old Leiter became involved in politics.  He helped campaign for various candidates including George W. Bush and Michael Bloomberg.

While working as an announcer for the YES and MLB networks, he's also worked closely with Christie — he was a member of the governor's transition team and, as his bio said, he was appointed by Christie to the New Jersey Hall of Fame Advisory Commission and placed on the board of the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund last year.

Whether or not the Guv goes to the bullpen phone and gives Leiter a call is anyone's guess but Leiter says he would take the call.

"I would be interested, sure, but no, I have not been contacted," he said.

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