It may not appear prominently in future history books, but for actorTim DeKay, next week’s episode of his USA Network series “White Collar” represents a personal milestone.
And believe it or not, it’s also a milestone in the history of New York’s new Yankee Stadium — the first TV series (or any TV show or movie, for that matter) to get permission to film inside the hallowed baseball mecca in the Bronx.
DeKay, 48, who co-stars on the series as FBI “white collar”-crime specialist Peter Burke, got to direct it too — his first-ever directing job and an “honor” for this lifelong baseball fan (and former high school player).
Filmed last August, the episode has Burke and conman-turned undercover agent Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) plotting to prevent the robbery of a unique piece of memorabilia on display in the small, but treasure-filled Yankee museum inside the stadium. It’s a real place, and the scenes were filmed there. Other scenes were filmed in the stadium’s famed concourse, and in and around the stadium’s Bronx neighborhood.
The collector’s item under threat: Babe Ruth’s very first home-run ball — autographed by the Babe — an item not known to actually exist in real life, but if it did, it would be one of the world’s most valuable sports collectibles. (The ball would be from 1915, when Ruth was playing for the Boston Red Sox.)
For DeKay, the experience of filming in Yankee Stadium was “a once in a lifetime experience. . . . I kept reminding myself to enjoy it,” he told XfinityTV when we met up with him earlier this month at Yankee Stadium and interviewed him in the museum space.
So what’s a TV director do, anyway, Tim? “A TV director figures out which angle we want to tell the story from,” he said, noting that Yankee Stadium provided all sorts of opportunities for great shots — from the signage outside the stadium to the famous field. He felt particularly lucky to be able to engineer a shot of the entire field from behind home plate. “That’s how you look at a beautiful ballfield – from behind home plate,” said DeKay, a native of upstate Ithaca, N.Y., where residents were just as likely to root for the Boston Red Sox as the Yankees or New York Mets.
DeKay says he never rooted for any one team — he just loves baseball, no matter who’s playing. In his own playing days, he chose to play catcher, a particularly taxing position — both physically and mentally. So, we asked him: Why catcher, Tim?
His affable answer: “You’re never bored.”
The “Stealing Home” episode of “White Collar” premieres Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 10/9c on USA Network.