- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 170 lb.
The second "Clown Prince of Baseball," after Al Schacht, Max Patkin performed for 51 years as a baseball clown. After an arm injury curtailed his minor league career, Patkin joined the Navy during World War II.
Stationed in Hawaii in 1944, Patkin was pitching for a service team. Joe DiMaggio homered off the lanky right hander. In mock anger, Patkin threw his glove down then followed DiMaggio around the bases, much to the delight of the fans, and a career was born.
As a barnstormer, Patkin played minor league stadiums throughout the United States and Canada. He had a face, seemingly made of rubber, that could make a thousand shapes. He was rail thin and wore a baggy uniform with a question mark (?) on the back in place of a number, and a ballcap that was always askew. While some derided his act as corny, he became a beloved figure in baseball circles, especially after an appearance in the film Bull Durham.
Patkin estimated he made more than 4,000 appearances. On July 20, 1969, he played to a crowd of four in Great Falls, Montana: most area residents were home watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon. Between 1944 and 1993, he did not miss an appearance.
Max Patkin retired from clowning in 1995 at the age of 75. He died of an aneurysm in 1999.