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Red Wings GM Mason trips over light fantastic
02/21/2006 7:52 AM ET
Dan Mason, the general manager of the Rochester Red Wings, shouldn't quit his day job.

The two-time International League executive of the year temporarily switched his affiliation from Red Wings to wingtips, donning his dancing shoes on a local version of the popular TV show Dancing with the Stars.

WHAM TV, ABC's affiliate Rochester, recently paired Mason and six other local celebrities with professional dancers on the station's News This Morning program. The results weren't always pretty, to say the least.

"I think one of the reasons they called me was because they knew I'd be dumb enough to participate," Mason said. "But doing this was a way for us to get people thinking about baseball season again. It was also a great opportunity for people to laugh at me."

While Mason gives the impression that he was an embarrassment on the dance floor, he actually represented himself quite well. He and his partner, the considerably more graceful Wendy Denysenko, were not eliminated until the fifth round of the competition. Mason and Denysenko successfully waltzed, swung tangoed and rhumba-ed through the contest before being eliminated on a lackluster run-through of Dean Martin's "Ain't That A Kick in the Head".

Ain't that a kick in the head.

"I think the fedora I was wearing is what did me in," Mason said.

That's one explanation, although conspiracy theorists might find it suspicious that the contest's three remaining teams all included WHAM on-air personalities.

"Was there a fix?" wondered Mason. "Maybe. I think MiLB.com should do some investigative reporting."

We'll get right on that, Dan. In the meantime, Mason and his staff are working on ways to re-create his experience at Rochester's Frontier Field.

"We're planning on doing a night where we bring in instructors from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, and give our fans the opportunity to learn some moves," said Mason. "It's a lot harder than it looks."

That's something that Mason learned the hard way.

"This was the first thing in my life I didn't want to win," he said. "But once you say you're going to do something you've got to try your best. And Wendy, my teacher, was awesome. I didn't want to tarnish her good name."

Mason, however, has had to endure a lot of good-natured ribbing. But it's all been worth it.

"We got some exposure for the team, which is hard to do when there's still snow on the ground," he said. "Now I just hope that people stop calling me Twinkletoes."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.