The Jell-O Prank That Could Have Cost A Former Mariners Pitcher His Career

In Major League Baseball, it's common to talk about the greatest pitcher, hitter, fielder, or baseman in league history, but how about the greatest baseball prank ever? Yes, like almost everything else in the annals of MLB lore, there's one prank in particular, involving pitcher Larry Andersen, that's widely considered the most outrageous off-the-field jape ever perpetrated in the game. In the 1982 season, Andersen was pitching in Seattle, for the Mariners. Andersen played 17 years in the majors and retired in 1994 with the Phillies with a career 3.15 ERA. 

The infamous "gotcha" that Andersen helped orchestrate was against his manager at that time, Rene Lachemann, via Los Angeles Times reporting. Andersen wasn't alone in planning the notorious practical joke he pulled on the Seattle skipper, and the night it all went down, Andersen's team was in Chicago, playing a series against the White Sox. After one game in particular, Lachemann reportedly spent some time on Rush Street, a well-known Windy City tourist destination. That delay allowed Andersen and his co-conspirators ample opportunity to execute their fiendish (and delicious) plan.

The incident earned Andersen the nickname 'Mr. Jell-O'

The other guilty parties in the prank that Andersen pulled on Lachemann were Mariners outfielder and designated hitter Richie Zisk, and outfielder and first baseman Joe Simpson. According to Secret Base, posted on YouTube, Lachemann noticed something was wrong when he finally returned to his hotel room. Disoriented by a fun night out in one of Chicago's preeminent nightlife destinations, the baseball skipper found everything in his hotel room was gone — the bed, the light bulbs — everything. The room had also been toilet papered. 

Alarmed, Lachemann reportedly called his colleagues on the team to get to the bottom of what happened but even the mouthpiece on the phone was missing. Stumbling in the dark to the bathroom, Lachemann finally found his hotel room items along with a toilet filled with Jell-O. Lachemann slept that night on the floor, intent on finding out who had done this to him. Speaking later with Astros Daily, Andersen recalled that the next day, his manager, " ... threatened the team with FBI, fingerprints, lie detectors, etc. Nothing happened, but soon the whole team was doing things for the next two months to keep it going."

Jell-O kept showing up in Lacheman's hotel rooms

In that same 2001 interview, Andersen explained he, along with Zisk and Simpson, got their skipper's hotel room key from the Mariners' travel secretary, and once inside, they set about their mischievous plot. From that point onward, Lachemann (pictured, with the Marlins) did all he could to find out who was responsible, especially after Jell-O orders kept arriving in his hotel rooms on future road trips, and as Jell-O boxes mysteriously continued to show up in his suites. Speaking with the L.A. Times, Lachemann later said, "I mean I'm doing everything I can to find out who's behind this ... If these guys were in the White House, Nixon would still be President because there were no leaks."

As the season wore on, among other ways Lachemann was tormented, Seattle play-by-play announcer Dave Niehaus told Lachemann he had the culprits on tape but the tape got "erased." Then, according to Andersen, "We finally had our team party at the end of the year and we made up grocery bags colored like jello boxes and Joe, Ritchie and myself put them on ... Then we took off the bags and exposed ourselves as the culprits. That was the best ever." As Secret Base notes, 1982 was not a great season for Andersen and the Jell-O prank could have threatened his career. Lucky for Andersen, though, he played 12 more years in the majors.