So last night I was watching the Cub – Cards game from Wrigley and they interviewed a fan who this season attended all 81 Cub home games. He said that growing up, sitting in the bleachers, he thought how cool would it be to attend every Cub home game in a season and last night he accomplished that. I agree - how cool is that!
That got me thinking, now that I am at a still young 51 years old – what sports related things would I like to do? I have already accomplished the ultimate baseball fan’s dream of seeing a regularly season game at all 30 MLB parks in one season (and have that picture to prove it), heck I even did it twice in successive seasons during the 2009 season and again during the 2010 season. How can I top that? Well, let’s see…
These are in no particular order – well the better ones to are at the end to build suspense (like you are in a suspended state reading this.)
1. My stepson, Brent threw out the idea a few years ago we should go to Dyersville, IA. What’s in Dyersville you ask? It’s where the farm is located where they filmed ‘Field of Dreams’. The farm still has the field set up and James Earl Jones was correct, people do still come. Next summer this will be crossed off the list for sure.
2. This next one is corny but one I want to do. Before Bears’ games at Soldier Field a bunch of fans unfurl the 4th Phase flag on the field for the introduction of the Bears’ starting lineups. I would like to be one of the unfurlers. It’s easy to get to be one of the unfurlers, all you do is get to Soldier Field when the gates open, head to the sign up area and sign up. What is the 4th phase? Well the offense, defense and special teams make up the first three phases and we members of the Bears Family make up the 4th phase. Hopefully this season we will make it to a Bears game and this will be crossed off the list.
3. I suck at golf but the next on the list is to play TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville, FL. I would like to play other courses as well like Pebble Beach or any course in Ireland or Scotland – but TPC Sawgrass with that island hole has always been one I want to play. I know I will be hitting from the drop zone, but my theory on golf is I paid my admission, I might as well see the whole course.
4. This next one only a true Blackhawk fan can appreciate. I want to get my hair cut by Carmelo at the 316 Club Barber Spa in Chicago. And no, I don’t want a mullet like he does for Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad for the playoffs – just a normal cut. I will save this one for next April in the days before the NHL playoffs start. Come to think of it, I may even go the mullet route, as I can’t seem to grow a beard.
5. I will stick with the Hawks theme here. During the 2nd intermission of Hawks games they have a contest on the ice called “Shoot the Puck.” They get one kid, a hot chick, a regular Joe and a celebrity to stand at center ice and shoot the puck at the net. The Hawks put a board to block the goal with 3 little cutouts to shoot at. I want to “Shoot the Puck.” If you make it you win some airfare on United and get to shoot at the other goal with one cutout for more airfare on United. I have always wondered - do you still have to pay for bags if you win the airfare? Since Carmelo has an inside with the Hawks I will talk to him next April and see if he can hook me up.
6. This one is sentimental – I would love to go to a game at Wrigley with my father. He took me to my first Cub game when I was 8 and he is to thank/blame for my lifelong love of the Cubs. Next season we will hopefully cross this one off the list and just like on May 19, 1971 – we will start with a beverage at Murphy’s Bleachers (though mine will be a bit more than a Coke) and our seats will be first row behind the visitor’s dugout. I told you this one is sentimental.
7. Brent and I were hanging out at Busch Stadium last month and he threw out another great idea, that kid is full of them. He said it would be cool over the next so many years to see a ballgame at all 30 parks. He said we could do one baseball trip each season and knock a few off the list. So far we have 4 in the books: Wrigley, Miller Park, Busch and Yankee Stadium. I know my wife, the Teach, will be along for the ride as well. When I told her about this earlier today, she proudly stated she had been to 6 ballparks with me, you are a regular, mucho younger than me Ballpark Chaser.
Ok, so the first six are fairly easy to do. Just need some time, money and effort (and a few dozen golf balls for Sawgrass) to cross them off. The next three will be harder to accomplish and may need some Devine intervention.
1. Like every Cub fan we dream of the day when the Cubs win the World Series. We fans are the butt of many jokes but we stay loyal to the team with our support. I want to be at Wrigley for at least one Cub World Series game. The clincher would be awesome, but beggars can’t be choosers so I will take any game. I think I should start saving up because I have a feeling I will need that ticket for the 2016 World Series (knock on wood and whatever else I need to do to unjinx the jinx I just hexed on the Cubs.)
2. I want to be at the United Center for either a Hawks Cup clincher or a Bulls NBA Championship clincher, ideally both would be awesome. The Teach and I have been at the UC for the Hawks banner raising ceremonies in 2010 and 2013 and it was amazing, now we need to add to our sports memory bank a Chicago championship clincher at the UC.
3. The final item would the ultimate – that is to complete my Grand Slam of sports championships fandom with being alive for a Cubs World Series title. In my sports fandom life, which I would say began at the age of 8, I have had the fortune of seeing the Bears win a Super Bowl, the Bulls win 6 NBA titles and the Hawks win 2 Cups. Now we just need a Cubs title. Yes I hear you White Sox fans, all 11 of you, screaming, “Ha ha, we have our Grand Slam.” Ok, congrats to you, now head back to Home Run Inn and have some pizza.
If you think about it, there are not many cities that have the Grand Slam of Championships. Boston is the city we are envious of, completing the Slam this century in less than 10 years. Using 8 years old as the starting age for sports fandom, New Yorkers have to be older than 49 to have the Slam. The 11 White Sox fans have to be older than 36 and for Los Angelinos or Las Angelinas for the ladies, you have to be older than 38 and that is if you count the Raiders as your team.
Yes I hear you Pittsburgh, if you are older than 53ish you have a trifecta but many cities have a trifecta – it’s getting that 4th championship in your lifetime that is the key, right old Philly people? I guess since Pittsburgh doesn’t have a basketball team they can claim the Sixers as their team so that would give them a Slam but one with an asterisk – like the Tiger Slam in golf.
Looking back at my list I noticed not much for the Bulls, actually I added them to the UC clincher item just to get them on the list. But in reality we already had our bucket item crossed off for the Bulls in the name of Michael Jeffery Jordan and all the great memories he gave us Chicagoans during his running with the Bulls.
So now it’s your turn, would love to hear some of your items in the comment section below and in a future blog I will call out some of the best ones. So for now this is so long and good-bye from the home office at O’Barlie’s Pub where the beer is always crafty and the food is too.
One last thing – check back this Sunday for a special blog commemorating Derek Jeter’s last game with my memories of watching Derek play as well as a republishing of a blog from April 2009 about my dog, Jeter.
Wow, another Throwback Thursday post. I am 2 for 2 since firing up my newly branded website. Today’s throwback takes us back to April 25, 2009. I remember typing this blog up in the early afternoon in my hotel room waiting to head to Coors Field for that night’s Rockies/Dodgers game.
I was into my third week of chasing all 30 ballparks in 2009 and that night’s Rockies game was going to be my 6th ballpark of the young season. As I harken back to that weekend, WTF Bob – what’s up with harken and young season! Sorry, momentarily thought I was a real writer.
When I made my schedule of getting to all 30 ballparks I planned on getting to them on weekends, I did have a full time job and actually was working (as my good buddy Andy F. McRae shakes his head in that “right Bob, work, ha” way.) If you think about a baseball season, it has 26 weekends and 3 summer holidays, which allows 55 non-working days to get to 30 ballparks. Sounds easy, which if you put your mind, and wallet, to it – it really is (he says now that it is 5 years later forgetting about all the bitching he did about how hard it was to get to all 30 back in the day.)
When I was coming up with my schedule I looked to maximize my travel to do as little as possible – try for one round trip flight, some driving and get to two ballparks in one weekend. Click here
to check out my 2009 schedule and here
for my 2010 schedule.
One ballpark that gave me pause (here you go again, Bob, thinking you are a trained writer) was Denver. I was temporarily living in Tucson, AZ for work that spring and planned for the project I was there for to be over mid-June, which meant see ya Tucson, hello Boston. I wanted to get to all the ballparks west of the Mississippi by May 31st leaving the Midwest and East ballparks for later in the season. Plus the East and Midwest ballparks are relatively easy to link up with others on the weekends but some in the west, not so much.
That brings us to Denver. There is no linking Denver with any other ballpark. Plus I had scheduled it for the end of April with really iffy weather that time of the year. I have nothing against Denver, but I didn’t want a rain out to force me to go back and try again. To mitigate a potential issue, I just planned on being there all weekend and hope for at least one of the two games to be played.
I flew into Denver on Friday night and when I woke up on Saturday it was raining and the forecast called for rain for most of the day. I really didn’t have anything to do, I was looking over the map of what’s in the area and I noticed that Wyoming and the Nebraska state line were only 140 miles away. Why is this important you ask? Well, I also have this lifelong dream of saying I had physically been in all 50 states in my life. Wyoming and Nebraska were two I had never been in. So a few minutes later I hopped into the car and off I went. This throwback blog was the timeline of my drive and things along the way that amused me.
As for my lifelong goal of getting to all 50 states, I currently sit at 45 with Alaska, Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas to go. I actually have broken out the 45 I have been to into four categories; states I have lived in, states I have visited and stayed the night, states I drove thru on my way somewhere (or as I call them DNA states, you know, I stopped to pee at a rest area as I was driving thru them) and states I refer to as rock states. What are rock states? Great question – they are states where I drove over the border to the first exit. Got out of the car, picked up a rock and drove back to where I came from.
My tallies of the 4 categories are:
Lived in states – 9 (boy I have gotten around)
Stayed the night states – 24 (yep, I really have gotten around in my day – I did call the next day though)
DNA states – 9 (hey, don’t know about you but driving makes me have to pee)
Rock states – 3 (Vermont, New Mexico and Nebraska)
How many of you took a moment to tally up your total? Go ahead, I told my number – you tell yours.
So without further ado, yes I just gave you 792 words of ado, let us harken back to the young baseball season of 2009 – a youngish man looking for something to do while in Denver, not quite dead yet. (How many of you got that sort of reference? It is obscure but if you did you are now remembering that Treat Williams scene of him eating the poo.)
SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2009 Bobby D's Blog - Quest Day 20
Welcome from Denver, CO. let me start by saying that Denver is an awesome city with awesome people. Since last week’s 2 part blog from Pittsburgh was a big hit – I will do the same this week from Denver. But this weekend is special as my life long quest to “visit” all 50 states meets the Quest to see a game in all 30 ballparks in 1 season. For todays part one of the blog I will give a running log of the drive to Wyoming and Nebraska and then back to Denver. Here goes:
6:48 AM (please note these times are in Mountain time) – leave the hotel feeling like I forgot something. I double check and have my wallet and my cell phones. Car keys – check. Oh well, must not be important. I get onto the road and proceed about a mile and realize I missed my exit. So I go up to a 7-11, get some coffee and head back to the highway and miss the exit again. I know what I left in the room – my sense of direction (must be the mile high air). No biggie – my iPhone has a GPS (more on that later)
7:12 AM – finally exit correctly and start heading on route 287, which is called a Toll way. Well it should be called a highway robbery – I paid $5.00 on this road to go 20 miles. The Mass Pike seems like a good deal.
7:30 AM – get onto I-25 north. At this point I am only 22 miles from downtown Denver and it could have been 100 miles. I am in the middle of nowhere - which I can see because it is so flat here that you can see forever and there is nothing. I know the Rockies are out there somewhere – but where?
7:55 AM – I am losing the radio station which means time to play Radio Press Your Luck. Remember that game show with the Wammies – well this is the radio version. I hit seek and the dial starts cruising and stops on 99.3 FM. Here goes – what did I win Johnny. I hear this “Good Morning Brothers and Sisters – this is THE Rev. Jimmy Jim Billy Bob of the Give us all your money and you will go to heaven Ministry”. Crap – I hit a Wammy. The self-proscribed Good Rev. is going to tell us about the evils of materialistic things. Well Good Rev. – I am from Boston, by way of Bergen County, NJ by way of Lake County, IL and those three areas lead the league in materialistic things so brother you are barking up the wrong tree here.
8:15 AM – 10 miles to the Wyoming border and the Good Rev. and I have been debating for the last 20 minutes and he seems to be winning. He is a master debater – that’s for sure. I decide that losing a debate to someone who doesn’t even know he is in a debate is a bad thing for my ego – I play Radio Press Your Luck again. Hit seek and here goes. It stops and I hear “Good Morning Brothers and Sisters” HAHA – just kidding. The radio stops on a country station, I hit seek again and country – 4 more spins and more country then the 5th spin I am back to the master debater. Ladies and Gentlemen – Cheyenne, Wyoming the home of 6 country stations and a holy roller.
8:22 AM – Welcome to Wyoming. The scenery is the same as it has been for the past 85 miles like I thought that crossing the border and boom there would be stuff to see. Picture the final scene of 'Castaway' when Tom Hanks delivers that package to the lady in the middle of nowhere whom he is going to hook up with. I know that it is not as obvious as the final scene of North by Northwest where Cary Grant and Eve St. Marie are in the train car and Hitchcock pans to a train going into a tunnel as the final shot. Sorry to those of you who I just ruined the final scene – but that movie is like 45 years old and if you haven’t seen it yet – doubt you will. So after years of volleyball love with Wilson – Tom is ready for something a little more.
8:26 AM – get onto I-80 east towards Pine Bluff, WY. I have finally decided that country is better than continually losing the debate to the Good Rev. This country though is not that popcorn stuff we have in Boston – you know Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift – this is country on steroids sung by people who – well I have no idea who there are.
8:56 AM – Welcome to Nebraska and I can’t wait to get back to Colorado and an upgrade on the scenery. I take the obligatory picture of the welcome to Nebraska sign – proceed .8 of a mile to exit 1, get out of my car and pick up a rock and turnaround and get back to Wyoming. Congrats Nebraska – you are now a rock state in my list of states I have been to.
9:13 AM – time to christen Wyoming as a DNA state. That would be a state where I took a pee and left some DNA behind. I stop at the TnA truck center – you know the Travel in America truck stop – get your minds out of the gutter. I leave behind my DNA – buy some more coffee to keep me awake for this most thrilling of drives and head on my way.
9:32 AM – ahhh – back to Colorado and only 20 more minutes of Cowboy Country, which is Wyoming for country on steroids.
9:50 AM – there is this dude singing a song about milking a cow. I am thinking 3 things about this; 1 – dude this is 2009 and they have invented machines to milk cows. 2 – how cool would it be if they could make this into a Meatloaf song similar to 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' – only here we would have the cowboy debating with the cow (insert Rosie O’Donnell as the voice of the cow). 3 – maybe milking the cow is Wyoming code for something else.
9:53 AM – 100.3 FM is back and I have never ever thought I would be so happy hearing the Jonas Brothers singing about loving a Volkswagen Beetle and then George Michel (insert milking the cow joke here) saying you have to have faith.
9:55 AM – decide to check the iPhone GPS for a better way back to the hotel without being robbed by the Colorado Highway Commission. Well the phone looks strange – it has negative bars. There is no service here – none, nada. I check the rear view mirror and that geeky guy from the Verizon ad and his posse are nowhere. Yo Verizon – there is a truth in advertising law and you better do an ad from here – Nowhere, CO.
10:36 AM – decide to prove PT Barnum’s theory of a fool and his money and get on the Toll way again for another 20 mile - $5.00 cruise. Here is my theory on toll ways – there should be no speed limit on them. As someone who pays to use the road – aren’t I an owner of the toll way and shouldn’t I then as owner be able to set my own speed limit. Take that mister occifer. I OWN this road which means you work for me. Yeah I don’t see that working – but it would be fun to try, with someone else’s ticket.
10:50 AM – encounter the HOTTEST toll taker in the history of toll takers and damn why do I have to have correct change?!?!?! She is wearing a B B shirt. You know those BeBe shirts that some girls hide the “e’s”. Well her “e’s” were nowhere to be found – I know, I checked over and over.
11:11 AM – after making a few U-turns to go back and pay the toll again – I finally reach the hotel. At this point I wish Phil from the Amazing Race were in the lobby. He would say, “After 280 miles, 3 states and 1 toll taker stalking charge – Bobby D you have now been in 43 states in your life”.
I hope you enjoyed the little journey today. Tomorrow I will blog about the 2 games here in Denver and tell you all about the wonderful people of Denver. So for now – have a great day and see you tomorrow.
In an earlier post I joked about all none of my readers when I launched my rebranded website. It seems we are getting a lot more visitors than none and I thank all of you for that. Then again 2 visitors are a lot more than none.
The beauty of having one’s own website is that I can basically write about anything I want and that is exactly what I intend to do. My past postings were about my travels, experiences and manly the people I met along the way. I will continue with that theme though my travels won’t be an intense as when I was getting to all 30 MLB ballparks in one season – two seasons in a row. The stories will be about stuff here in the Midwest, primarily Chicago and the surrounding burbs.
I have some ideas for stories and my Senior Editor in Chief, my wife Charlie (affectionately known as The Teach), gave me a great idea. Patrick Kane’s mullet gets a lot of attention during the NHL playoffs that makes his barber, Carmelo of the 316 Club Barber Spa
, somewhat of a celeb here in Chicago. I have been following Carmelo on twitter
and he seems like a very interesting and fun guy. The Teach had an idea for me to get my haircut by Carmelo and write a story about the experience. I know, very exciting idea there Bobby D – a haircut - wow, hey it might be so stop the sarcasm. Heck one of my best postings was from 2009 about a drive I took from Denver to the Nebraska border and back – talk about an exciting idea for a story but it turned out to be kind of funny and voted as the #3 story from the 2009 season.
Some of the other subjects of stories will be about the total game day experience at Miller Park, US Cellular and Wrigley Field as well as other parks to be named later, or whichever ones my totally official media pass gains me access to. There are other nuggets in the chamber of ideas for stories as well as ones that just sort of happen, which are usually the best ones anyway.
One of the things I find very cool is that this site has had hits from folks in 11 countries. Which I find amazing that someone in South Korea is reading my senseless dribble or however you say senseless dribble in Korean. I have also had hits from folks in 47 states and Puerto Rico – come on Montana, you are late to the game. All very cool and all very inspiring to keep writing about stuff – heck some dude in Oklahoma (I think people in Oklahoma are called dudes) stopped between his cattle calling and rustling to take a peak at this website. So howdy dude from Oklahoma – call your buddy in Montana and tell him to jump on the Chicago Sports Guy bandwagon. (I am thinking using the term wagon will inspire his to do so.)
This promises to be a fun ride, one that I have no idea where it will take us…well I do hope it will take me to guest hosting PTI with Tony Kornheiser when Wilbon is out. Laugh if you will but Bill Simmons started out with a nice, intimate website like this and now look at him – that guy is everywhere and even guest hosted PTI. So ha – that is my goal and I am sticking to it.
So for now this is so long and good-bye from the dart room at O’Barlie’s Pub and check back this Thursday for our Throw Back blog, the aforementioned drive from Denver to Nebraska and back. Hopefully you will find it as entertaining now as folks did back in 2009.
The weekly Sunday Ramblings….
What is a Wild? I don’t get it. Not much wild about Minnesota. The Minnesota Frostbite would have been a better name. The Abominable Snowman could have been their mascot. The team colors an icy blue and white. That right there my friends is marketing genius (as I break my arm patting myself on the back.)
I guess it worked but why did that Oklahoma newspaper pick on Kevin Durrant? There are like 3 cool things about Oklahoma and KD is numbers 1 and 3 on the list. So you piss off 2 of the coolest things about your state when he is going to be a free agent soon and can leave for greener pastures. KD is a regular reader of my stuff, so KD come to Chicago – we promise to never piss you off. Well that is if you don’t hurt your knee, take over a year to come back, have your brother be your spokesperson, hint that you will be back for the playoffs but don’t play. So, don’t do that…and we will be cool.
It’s got to be a bad omen for Johnny Manziel. His free fall in the draft mirrored that of Brady Quinn. He was picked 22nd overall, same as Quinn. And drafted by the Browns only after being passed up by they earlier and then having the Browns trade back into the 22nd spot to take him, all same as Quinn. Good luck Johnny – you are going to need it.
Why is Montreal the Canadiens and the rest of the country the Canadians?
I’m kind of thinking Andrew Shaw’s injury is a bit more than day-to-day.
I used to like the song ‘I’m a Man’ and then ESPN went and ruined that too.
The Bruins are looking scary good right now. The Canadiens, not ians, had them on the ropes and couldn’t land the knockout punch, just like the Wings last season against the Hawks.
I guess Mark Jackson’s New Yorkerish didn’t play well in Oakland.
I have gotten four Happy Mother’s Day messages today – what’s up with that?
Jack is back – the first two episodes of the new season were off the hook.
I am rooting for Jordan Lynch especially now that he is with the Bears and props to him for not developing Tebowitis. Trestman is going to have a field day using Lynch in a whole bunch of plays.
Sorry for using “off the hook” before, don’t know got I to me.
Dear Rooftop Owners, it’s called Wrigleyville – not Rooftopville.
The bad karma police are getting back at Jerry Reinsdorf for breaking up Michael’s Bulls – first D Rose with a knee times 2 and now Jose Abreu.
I’m bummed the Bears didn’t draft Louis Nix from Notre Dame – I was ready to get an Irish Chocolate Bears jersey.
I’m creeping up on 250 followers on twitter – I am late to the game on twitter, I was holding out hope for MySpace. As well as Betamax and HD-DVD.
Lastly a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there especially to my mom Patricia Hubbard, my mother-in-law Mary Ann Cahill and my wife Charlie - you guys are the best!
That wraps up my first Sunday Ramblings – I promise next week’s will be off the chain, is that better? Remember I’m still a MySpace guy. So for now this is so long and good-bye from O’Barlie’s Pub where I just got another Happy Mother’s Day message – what’s up with that!!!
As promised in an earlier blog, today is my first Throw back Thursday post. I am reposting a past blog with a little commentary to accompany it. I know, how lazy can I be! I have some really good blogs hidden in the deep archives somewhere on this site. Time to repurpose them and reflect.
Today's TBT is from exactly 5 years ago today when I was bouncing around the country going from ballpark to ballpark where I met many wonderful people, some of whom are still good friends today. The wonders of social media help in keeping in contact with these folks who I am fortunate to say cover all corners of the US from Maine to Florida to California to Washington and even Canada. Today’s TBT is about the first three I met along my journey: Travis, Pedro and Joey or more affectionately known – The 30/30 Guys.
Five years ago at this very moment the 30/30 guys were 22 ballparks into seeing all 30, only they were doing it in 30 days - all while driving the Vanbino. The boys are all in the film industry, living in Philly. They filmed 39 hours of footage in which they broke down into a 2-hour documentary about their travels and experiences. After many years and much editing the documentary was released this past fall and lo and behold, yours truly had a guest appearance in the movie (the trailer for the film is in the YouTube
box to the right in the sidebar, see if you can find my guest appearance.) I am holding out hope for an Oscar nomination in the category “Best Supporting ‘Actor’ in a documentary about three guys driving the country seeing a MLB ballgame in all 30 parks in 30 days.” This is a little known category, usually awarding the Oscar at a ceremony prior to the big awards on ABC. But I am hopeful for the nomination and being able to walk the red carpet and interviewed by Ryan Seacrest.
I still hear from the boys from time to time, mostly on social media. They are doing well and have found success in their careers. Joey even won an Emmy for his work on the HBO series ‘Hard Knocks – the season with the Jets’.
So without further ado here is the blog I typed up the morning after meeting the boys. I was laying over at Denver’s airport on my way from Houston to Minneapolis and had some time to kill. The blog is short one (insert that’s what she said joke here) but one for me that holds a very special memory of my travels and the day I met my Heroes!
BTW Joseph – you still owe me that Philly Cheesesteak and Blue Moon for the bet we had on the Hawks/Flyers Stanley Cup final!FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2009 My Heroes!!!
Last night in Houston I was able to meet my ballpark traveling heroes Joey (in the Puma suit) Pedro and Travis. These are the young men who are traveling the country and seeing a game in all 30 ballparks, only they are doing so in 30 days all while driving. Makes me feel like a slacker taking all summer and flying to most cities to see all the ballparks.
We had contacted each other back in March and saw that our schedules crossed paths last night in Houston. After a couple of missed phone calls we were finally able to meet in the 6th inning out in center field at Minute Maid. Lance Berkman of the Astros has a loyal following of fans that dress in Puma suits for every home game. Berkman’s nickname is the Big Puma. Joey was an honorary member of the Puma’s last night and let me tell you – the Puma suit plays at Minute Maid.
We spent over an hour swapping stories and even missed most of the last 4 innings. Two things that stand out for all of us – the first being that this is no longer just about seeing the ballparks or the game – but about meeting people and experiencing things that you just wouldn’t experience. The second thing is that the season is only a month old, but seems longer than that. My first game in Philly on April 5th seems like months ago.
Travis, Pedro and Joey are wonderful young men and after meeting them last night I envy that they are able to experience this journey while in their 20’s. You always hear contestants on Survivor or the Amazing Race say how that experience changed their lives – I know this experience is having that effect on me and I am sure it will on them. Also - having this little tidbit on their resumes will surely get them interviews in the future – I know I would interview them.
Well guys hope you had a safe trip to LA – enjoy California this weekend and I look forward to seeing you next week in Arizona.
Check out the boys’ journey and get more info on ordering the documentary and book
I am back baby! Yes I know it’s been close to 2 years since my last post but I have had an extreme case of writer’s block…well not really, I just didn’t feel the oomph to post a blog. What gave me the oomph you ask? Great question, my readers – all none of you, come up with the greatest things to ask. I think it’s a wide range of stuff that has led me back here. So let’s review the reasons why…
Reason 1 – My site was originally started to chronicle my baseball travels as I bounced around the country seeing a MLB game at all 30 ballparks in one season. I had done so in 2009 and again in 2010 becoming only the 2nd person to do so two years in a row joining my good friend, Chuck Booth in this exclusive club.
My ballpark chasing is now in major hiatus mode so I really didn’t have anything cool to write about…or so I thought.
Reason 2 - My website costs money to keep it active, if I am going to pay to keep it up (insert dumb Viagra joke here) I might as well post something.
Reason 3 – I feel I am a relatively interesting guy who has a fun, sarcastic take on sports and life in general so why not post, nobody is reading this senseless dribble anyway…or are they.
Reason 4 – People are reading this senseless dribble – the reports my friends at Fatcow.com send me show that people do still come to my site. I have no idea who these people are, but they are, so I might as well give them something to read.
Reason 5 – Over the past 5 months I have been on a major health kick. I had gotten pretty heavy and after a visit to my doctor where I learned my BP was off the charts I figured I better do something other than take the BP meds the doc gave me. Since that wake up call, The Teach (my wife Charlie) and I have teamed up on a very healthy lifestyle. I have gotten less heavy, to the tune of 70 pounds less heavy and during my last checkup I was taken off of the BP meds. How cool is that!
I also had a sleep study, which will be it’s own blog in the near future, and found I had a mild case of sleep apnea. I now have a C-PAP machine and become the Masked Marauder at night.
With being less heavy, eating healthy and getting a good night’s sleep I feel like I have been reborn with a good sense of energy.
Reason 6 – Since I have been reborn why not fire up my website with a new look and new name, kind of like it’s own rebirth.
I went with the name “Chicago Sports Guy” because I am a guy and I love all things Chicago Sports. Well maybe not the Sox or the Fire but showing I know who the Fire are does prove I am a Chicago Sports Guy. And I will admit, when flipping thru the channels and I see Jose Abreu is scheduled to bat I stop flicking to watch
Reason 7 – my webhosting company, Fatcow, has made a lot of enhancements to the web design suite I utilize. It has made it easier to change stuff, add photos and other cool things.
Reason 8 – I do enjoy blogging and find it’s good mental therapy talking to my computer screen on occasion. I know I need mental therapy when it talks back.
Going forward I am borrowing the Throw Back Thursday theme that Facebook has and will post a blog entry from my baseball travels on, you guessed it - Thursday. I know the blogs are archived on here somewhere but I will start with a few paragraphs reflecting on that blog. I also will make a commitment to post something weekly, not sure when or what that will be but it will be.
You call follow me on Twitter @ChicagoSprtsGuy and Facebook at O’Barlie’s Pub. At the top of this screen are icons for Twitter and Facebook that take you right to my stuff. Thanks Fatcow – this was one of the enhancements I spoke of.
So that about does it for today – come back in a few days for our first installment of Throw back Thursday. So for now this is so long and goodbye from O’Barlie’s Pub in McHenry, IL where don’t get excited that there is a new pub in McHenry, it’s just our home basement. But a cool one at that!
Flat Bob on a Tiger hunt
Yes, I know it’s been a while since my last blog. Been kind of busy with work stuff and really haven’t had the oomph to type one of these suckers up. Then last week an article appeared in an Atlanta newspaper. Seems our buddy Flat Bob made the news. Actually Flat Bob has been a lot of places lately; Paris, Isle of Man, Australia, Miller Park in Milwaukee and witnessed Tiger Woods win the Memorial golf tournament in Columbus, OH. That’s FB stalking Tiger and Ricky Fowler from the ropes on the 13th hole.
When Laura from the SADS Foundation told me their idea for Flat Bob I thought it was a great idea and had hopes that it would catch on. Well it has more than caught on. Everyday Laura is tagging me with Flat Bob photos on Facebook from all over the world. Now our goal is to get Flat Bob be a household name just like Flat Stanley.
The touching thing for me is that some of my oldest and dearest friends have jumped on the bandwagon. A few weeks ago my ISU Sigma Pi fraternity brother (we don’t say frat because…well, we just don’t) Jon Genson took FB to France and sent over some great photos. Last week my high school buddy David Dummer took FB to Miller Park to see our beloved Cubs take on the Brewers. Very cool guys, very cool indeed!
That’s the great thing with this campaign, people who only a short time ago had no idea what SADS was, are now taking Flat Bob with them, posting the pictures on their social media pages and helping spread awareness.
I am going to cheat for the remainder of this blog and let the news article from Atlanta finish the blog. So for now this is so long and good-bye where it’s time to move over Stanley because here comes Bob.
Published Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Flat Bob Campaign: Miracle girl raising awareness about heart syndromes
BY NICHOLE GOLDEN
Six-year-old Lisa Trotter of Grantville is a recent Kindergarten graduate, and is looking forward to a fun and busy summer with new friend “Flat Bob." Flat Bob is a paper doll distributed by the SADS (sudden arrhythmia death syndromes) Foundation.
Lisa, the daughter of Cynthia Trotter and the late Mitchell Trotter, was a healthy child until March 23, 2011. “She was playing in the yard and collapsed,” said Trotter. The babysitter called 911, and was talked through CPR until Coweta firefighters arrived on scene. The firefighters used a defibrillator to save Lisa.
Transported to Egleston in Atlanta, Lisa was placed on a heart and lung bypass machine and a ventilator as her heart was not strong enough to maintain its own beat. One positive was that a measurement of Lisa’s blood gases indicated good oxygen levels as “CPR was done correctly,” said Cynthia. Lisa was diagnosed with a sudden heart arrhythmia and placed on a beta blocker medication. Her specific diagnosis, determined through genetic testing, was Long QT Syndrome.
Long QT Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder, but Lisa has its most common form, KCNQI related to potassium loss.
The syndrome is an electrical disorder of the heart and patients must avoid sudden starts or scares, and must keep hydrated. Trotter says Lisa cannot participate in competitive sports, and only takes a dip in a pool. She doesn’t swim in lakes or recreational areas that cannot be accessed quickly by emergency responders.
Trotter carries a portable automatic external defibrillator (AED) unit wherever they go in case of a cardiac episode. Lisa attends Grantville Elementary, which has an AED on site, and the nurse has a specific protocol to follow in the event of an emergency.
Trotter calls Lisa her “miracle” child and personally thanked firefighters Bart Cauthen and Robert Shellabarger for saving her daughter’s life during a firefighters’ dinner last December.
Lisa is very attached to “Duckie” a beloved soft toy that her mother even brought to the hospital during her stay. Lisa considers her cat, “Polka Dot” and her dog, “Maple” her brother and sister.
This summer, the Trotters will join the SADS Foundation Flat Bob campaign to draw attention to the importance of CPR classes, especially for parents. The program also highlights the role of AEDs in helping the victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
Flat Bob is named for advocate Bob DeVries, whose wife Shawn Marie died at the age of 35 from an undiagnosed heart condition. DeVries worked for SADS to raise awareness and funds by visiting 30 ballparks in the 2010 season. His wife was a loyal Yankees fan.
SADS and its partner DeVries work to encourage those who have lost family members to arrhythmias to undergo genetic testing. The foundation has programs to help cover costs of genetic testing for children. These tests are often not covered by insurance.
Symptoms of sudden arrhythmia death syndromes can include dizziness, fainting, heart palpitations, consistent or unusual chest pain, and trouble sleeping. Shortness of breath when exercising can be another indication of an underlying problem.
“You always think this is something that could happen to someone else,” said DeVries. “Then all of a sudden. I became someone else. I’m a lot more invested now.”
To join the Flat Bob effort, or to learn more about heart conditions, go to www.sads.org. Printable Flat Bobs are available on the site.
“We’re supposed to travel with Flat Bob in the car,” said Trotter. The family’s first assignment is to photograph Bob and Lisa at a CPR Class,and with an AED located at a business or community site. This week, June 4-8, is National CPR and AED week.
According to SADS, 400,000 Americans die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmias each year. One in 200,000 high school athletes in the U.S. will die suddenly.
Lisa with Flat Bob and her AED
I would like to take a moment and introduce Flat Bob or FB to those who know him best. FB was the creation of my friends at the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome Foundation (SADS) in hopes that folks like yourself will take a moment, visit this site and take FB with you on your journeys and upload photos of FB to a special page on the SADS website.
(Pause here while folks are visiting the SADS site.)
Welcome back, hope you found the SADS site extremely informative. My friends at SADS have also set up a page for me which has left me very touched. Who would have thought that me, just some guy who was looking for a way to cope with losing a loved one by going to all the MLB parks in one season, would have spawned the “Where’s Bob?” campaign. It is very humbling for me to see my name linked to a T-shirt and a Flat Bob cartoon caricature. Wonder what’s next? – a “Where’s ‘Bob’blehead?”
All of this is a fun, light hearted way to bring awareness of very serious and deadly conditions that make up Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes. These conditions take the lives of thousands of young people annually. The next time you hear of a young person passing away from a heart condition, you can bet that the SADS Foundation is in contact with that family offering support, as they did with me. I could go on and on about the SADS Foundation, they are amazing people who do amazing work. Their website has tons of information about who they are, what they do and how they were formed. And most importantly – how you can help spread awareness and save a life!
The weekend of April 21st I assisted fellow ballpark chaser, Chuck Booth, in his attempt to break the Guinness World Record by seeing a full MLB game at all 30 ballparks in less than 24 days. Our goal was to be at Wrigley Field for the noon game on Saturday and then hightail it to Milwaukee for the 6:05 game at Miller Park. To make things even more fun, we then drove to Detroit for Sunday’s 1:05 Tiger game. While driving the 1,200 miles this past weekend, it gave me time to come up with an idea. I will not be going to all 30 MLB parks this summer, but Flat Bob can with your help.
So today we start the Flat Bob challenge. We need a picture of Flat Bob at all 30 MLB parks by the end of the baseball season in early October. If all goes well we will extend the challenge to include the playoffs and World Series. All we need is for you to visit the Flat Bob page here, print out Flat Bob and take him to a ballpark for the photo op. You can email the picture to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will set up a Flat Bob challenge page on this website with all submitted photos of FB from all the ballparks. It will be interesting to see which ballparks we get the most photos from.
I guess that just about does it for today. I know you are wondering if we made it to Wrigley, Miller Park and Comerica Park on the weeknd of 4/21, check out the mini-series of blogs from that weekend here - part 1, part 2 and part 3. For now we have work to do and get this Flat Bob Challenge underway. So for now this is so long and good bye where I will thank you in advance for assisting with the Flat Bob Challenge and helping spread awareness of SADS and keeping hearts beating!
One last thing, I was privileged to be chosen by Chuck Booth of MLB Reports to be the Wrigley Field expert in advance of his visit to Chicago. A few weeks prior to Chuck starting his epic journey he interviewed me about Wrigley Field as well as a few other cool things. Click this link for the interview.
Well that stunk! Being a PG-13 website I would like to use the vocabulary I learned while living in Jersey for 15 years, but stunk it will be. What stunk you ask? The playoff run, or lack thereof, for the Bulls and Blackhawks.
The Hawks I can kind of let go as we Hawks fans are only two years removed from winning the Cup, but still – how do you lose all three of your home games!?!?!?! The Bulls will be a harder pill to swallow. Best record in the shortened NBA season, home court thru the entire playoffs, the 7th NBA Championship right there for the taking and then Derrick Rose leaps up in the air while his ACL stays on the floor. Then to add injury to injury, Joakim Noah pops an ankle. End of season, thanks for playing, here are your parting gifts. At least the Bulls made history this post season becoming only the 5th number 1 seed to lose to an 8 seed. At least we have that.
I just saw a tweet that said “wait until next year.” What if there isn’t a next year for the Bulls. No, I’m not talking about the world coming to an end – that happened in the 8th inning of game 6 against the Marlins back in 2003. D Rose won’t be back until the middle of next season at best. I’m thinking we may have to wait until next year’s next year to get back to the point we were at when Rose’s knee played pop goes the ACL. UGH!!!!
So in true Chicago sports fandom we now turn our full attention to the Chicago team that is playing, the Cubs. I really didn’t think the Cubs would be getting my full and undivided attention until June. I figured I would flirt, make googly-eyes with the Cubs knowing the Hawks and Bulls were home waiting for me. Well now that the Cubs are the only game in town, I sure do hope they put out.
Hey wait there Mr. Bobby D, what about the White Sox, they are playing well. Sorry, see the banner at the top of the screen – it says Just a Cub Fan. There are many meanings to the Just a Cub Fan tag line, but the constant in all of them are – Not a White Sox Fan. I apologize to the White Sox fans, all 11 of you, for not showing your team any love.
So the question is can the Cubs hold my attention until at least September when the Bears start? I have to say that the Cubs are a much more fun team to watch this season. There is no in-fighting or drama that there has been in years past. The players appear to be getting along and having fun and they are better than their 13-18 record no thanks to Meltdown Marmol’s three blown saves. This Cub team might just be exciting enough until Da Monsters resume patrolling the Midway.
One silver lining is there will be more entertainment money available since I won’t be spending huge dollars on playoff tickets. The secondary ticket market is flooded with good seats for games at Wrigley. I can’t think of a better way to drown my Hawks and Bulls sorrows than sitting in field boxes at Wrigley with an Old Style or 3 or 4. I have a lot of sorrows to drown and as you can see in the photo I have a good start.
Well that’s about it – needed to vent and having your own blog is a great ventilator. The Cubs are visiting their second home this weekend, Miller Park aka Wrigley Field North. I know I will be watching. So for now this is so long and good bye where I just thought of something I can do with my spare time, get caught up with all the episodes of ‘The Client List’, the Hawks and Bulls season didn't have a happy ending, at least this blog can.
Back in early March, Chuck Booth of mlbreports.com asked me to be the Wrigley Field expert as part of his world record ballpark chasing attempt. Chuck had sent me these questions and since it took me much longer to answer these questions than it does a blog – I figure why not use this as a blog. You so smart Bobby D…Charlie is now LOL’ing really really loud.
Since I answered these questions in early March a lot has happened. Look for editorial comments from me throughout the interview in italics.
So without further ado – here is Da Interview:
Douglas “Chuck” Booth (Baseball Writer)- Bob DeVries loves baseball, this much is evidently clear when you get to know his story around the game. I am going to meet Bob in person for the doubleheader attempt of Chicago and Milwaukee. I can think of no other one person than I would rather hang out for the day in Chicago than Bob. His spirits were brought back up back in his life by visiting all of the 30 MLB parks. While my case was entirely different from Bob’s, our common theme is that baseball brought us both back from the depths of despair. I had the chance to talk to Bob about life, baseball and how we share the unique distinction of being the only two people on the planet to have attended a game in every park as a fan for two consecutive years in a row.
Bobby D’s note: I did meet up with Chuck on April 21st and 22nd – the 3 part blog from that weekend can be found here – part 1, part 2 and part 3.
DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Wrigley Field Expert Interview, Bob. Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Cub fan?”
BD: “I am just your average, soon to be 49-year-old sports fan. I got married last summer to someone who I have known since we were in the 6th grade and reconnected on Facebook. Charlie (Charlene) and I make our home in McHenry, IL. I work for a distribution company as a logistics manager. I have a stepson, Brent, who is of all things, a St. Louis Cardinal fan. Brent got to live out a baseball fans’dream this past season. He was at Busch Stadium for game 6 and 7 of the World Series.
My life as a Cub fan started in 1971 when my dad took me to Wrigley Field for my birthday. I often wonder if we would have gone to old Comiskey Park for a Sox game that day would I be a Sox fan today, thankfully we went to Wrigley.
Being a Cub fan, like all Cub fans, has been met with frustration and disappointment but thru it all we have remained fiercely loyal to the Cubs and always will. Why you ask? I don’t know and I ask myself that question every season when the Cubs are eliminated from the playoffs.
DB: “As one of 2 people to have been to all the ballparks 2 years in a row in the history of baseball fans, please describe this accomplishment? What prompted you to visit all the ballparks two years in a row?”
BD: “On September 10, 2008 my wife Shawn Marie passed away from a previously undetected heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD). In short ARVD is a genetic heart condition that causes the right ventricle of the heart to turn to fatty tissue over time and eventually lead to cardiac arrest in perfectly normal, healthy individuals –usually with little to no warning. In Shawn Marie’s case it led to her passing at the age of 35. Were there signs or symptoms of ARVD – sure there were, but all very minor and all linked together after her passing.”
After Shawn passed the everyday routine of getting up and going to work was easy, the not so easy times were my free times. I found I was having a hard time finding stuff to look forward to – my life was just a routine. Around Christmas Shawn’s cousin Jack and I were sitting around talking about what ballparks we had been to in our life. He then said “you should go to all the MLB ballparks this season.” I thought he was crazy, which he is. I had been thinking about his idea and in January when the MLB schedule came out I worked up the first of many versions of how I would get to all the ballparks in one season. I figured this would give me stuff to look forward to while learning how to live life again. During the 2009 baseball season I accomplished the feat of seeing a regularly scheduled game at all 30 ballparks. I found the travel and seeing the country was fun and challenging – of course going to the different ballparks was great and the sense of accomplishment was what I needed. What I didn’t expect was to meet so many wonderful people along the way that have become lifelong friends who also have been touched and inspired by hearing my story.
As the Quest to get to all 30 ballparks was winding down I was asked over and over about what’s next? I really didn’t have an answer. Then on August 21, 2009 – my official Fenway game which was my #28 ballpark that season, my story was picked up by a few local news stations in Boston and aired that night. Of the many nice emails I received after the broadcast the one that stuck out to me was from Laura Wall who works for the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome Foundation. Laura told me all about SADS and even though ARVD is not technically a SADS condition – its symptoms and dire consequences mirror one another. After the 2009 baseball season finished I felt a bit lost. My life over the 2009 summer was defined by the Quest which was all about me and my recovery. Then the 2010 MLB baseball schedule came out and for fun I worked up a schedule to get to all 30 again in 2010. I started at the 2010 MLB opening night in Fenway Park and saw the Yanks– Sox game. The next morning I flew to Atlanta and saw the Braves home opener against the Cubs. From there the Quest to get to all 30 again for the 2nd straight year was on, but the 2010 Quest was not about me, it was a Quest to spread awareness about SADS and helped raise over $22,000 for the SADS Foundation, all in memory of Shawn Marie.
Throughout the back to back seasons of getting to all 30 ballparks, I have learned to live and be open to love again and led to reconnecting with Charlie and eventually getting her to marry me this past summer on July 23rd. I have met so many wonderful people, many of which live and thrive with a SADS condition. I hope that along the way with the awareness that was spread about SADS that a life was saved. And thru the wonderful folks at Cardiac Science, we got an AED donated to Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City with a plaque that states “In Memory of Shawn Marie DeVries.”
For more information about SADS please click here DB: “Wrigley Field is on everybody’s short list for the best ballpark in the Major Leagues to watch a game. Please tell us why you love Wrigley Field?”
BD: “Of the questions asked in this interview this is the one I struggled the most with. I polled a bunch of my friends and each of them had a tough time answering it as well.
I guess for me Wrigley is a big Little League Field. It is a true neighborhood ballpark with no Jumbotrons, no blaring music – just an organ. The Cubs play 50 day games during the season – who doesn’t love day baseball, the bleachers are a big party, the seats are close to the field and there is an atmosphere around the ballpark that is only matched at Fenway Park. Wrigley Field has a genuine charm to it that the new “retro” ballparks try to recreate.”
Bobby D’s note: I really didn’t poll my friends; I just thought it looked good. How I really wanted to answer this question was a short, simple – Because it’s Wrigley effing Field baby.
DB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Wrigley Field for the very first time?”
BD: “Make a day out of it. I suggest taking in a Friday or Saturday day game. The 1:20 start time for an afternoon game allows time to walk around the Wrigley area. The atmosphere around Wrigley on game day is something to be experienced. There is so much to see and do and here are some of the main things to not miss:
- Visit the many souvenir shops and street vendors
- Have a beer or three at one of the numerous bars (Murphy’s Bleachers or The Cubby Bear are my favorites) in Wrigleyville
- Hang out with the ball hawks on Waveland or Sheffield Avenues and try to catch a batting practice home run
- Say hello to the firemen at the official fire station of the Cubs on Waveland Avenue. Ask to see the t-shirts they sell which are only $15. Best deal at Wrigley and the proceeds go to Chicago’s bravest
- The Cubs’ players’ parking lot is right across from the fire station, I usually hang out there for a bit trying to get an autograph
- Get your picture taken by the Ernie Banks and Harry Caray statues. Also have to get pictures of the Wrigley Field marquee sign
- Try to negotiate your way to one of the rooftop buildings for a few minutes on Sheffield or Waveland. Tell the doorman you are from out-of-town and would like to get a view of Wrigley from the rooftop. It is cool to say you were up there but not worth staying for the game.
- Since this is your first time at Wrigley I suggest getting box seats in the infield either lower or upper deck is fine. I would avoid the grandstand seats as these are under the upper deck and have a chance of being behind a support beam. The bleachers are cool to experience, just remember the seats are unreserved and are first come, first served and do not allow access to the rest of the ballpark.
- Stay in your seats for the 7th inning stretch and sing “Take me out to the Ballgame” with whomever the guest singer may be. If you happen to have a beer, at the end of the song look skyward and give cheers to Harry Caray.
- If the Cubs are winning, stay for the end of the game and sing along to the cheesiest team anthem in sports “Go, Cubs, Go.”
- After the game you can choose from the many bars and restaurants around Wrigley for dinner or take the “EL” downtown and head to Harry Caray’s Chop House and check out the remains of Bartman ball which they bought and blew up.”
Bobby D’s note: I had some momo comment on the article that I didn’t give any love to the Italian beef sandwich in my
list of favorite things at Wrigley. Well Senor Momo, any true Chicagoan doesn’t get a beef at Wrigley – too messy to eat and they aren’t all that good. Try going to my favorite, Roma’s on Cicero or Al’s on Taylor. What a momo!!!DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to Wrigley Field?”
BD: “Wrigley Field is a true neighborhood ballpark surrounded by surface streets with the closest highway being 3.5 miles away. The easiest and least costly method of getting to Wrigley Field is public transportation utilizing either the “EL” (elevated rail train) or by bus. The Red Line for the rail has a stop two blocks from Wrigley Field on Addison Street. I usually park in the north suburb of Skokie and park at the Yellow Line rail station. The Yellow Line is a 7 minute connector train that runs from Skokie, IL to the start of the Red Line and then a 30 minute ride to the ballpark.
As for driving, the parking lots around Wrigley Field are sparse and expensive usually running from $25 to $40. If I am going to a weekday afternoon game I usually drive as I can find parking for free on the streets around Wrigleyville. Parking on the streets in Wrigleyville for night games and weekend games is difficult as parking is reserved for residents with city parking stickers.”
DB: “What is the food like at Wrigley Field? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”
BD: “The food at Wrigley is pretty good on the main concourse and so-so in the upper deck. Over the past few seasons the Ricketts family has improved the food offerings on the main concourse to include pizza, specialty hot dogs and a variety of sandwiches. The upper deck with its limited space for concessions, offers the normal stadium food of hot dogs, Polish sausage, brats hamburgers and nachos.
I usually do not eat too much at the ballparks unless there is a specialty item that the ballpark offers such as the Rocky Mountain Oysters in Denver or the Dodger Dog in LA that I feel compelled to try. At Wrigley I stay old school usually getting a Polish or Brat with brown mustard and an Old Style beer.”
Bobby D’s note: don’t get the Italian beef; I think I may have covered that already.
DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Wrigley Field?”
BD: “This is a tough question as I have many memorable experiences at Wrigley and I don’t want to slight any of them as my all-time favorite. But since I am forced to choose one it would be one of my first childhood memories – my first Cubs game on May 19, 1971.
My dad said for my 8th birthday he would take me to my first Cub game on May 18, something came up and we went on the 19th instead. I remember going into one of the souvenir stores and getting my first Cub hat. After that we headed over to Ray’s Bleachers, which is now named Murphy’s Bleachers, on the corner of Waveland and Sheffield. We bellied up to the bar and my dad was telling the bartender all about how this was my first Cub game. The bartender ended up selling us tickets for the game and gave me an official baseball that he said was a home run ball that he got after it landed on Sheffield. It even had the skid mark on it where it hit the street.
Bobby D’s note: for my birthday on May 18, Charlie is taking me to Wrigley to see the Cubs play the White Sox. How awesome is my wife!!!
We went into the ballpark early to watch batting practice. Back then ballplayers would sign autographs before the game and I ended up getting Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bobby Bonds, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Lou Boudreau on the ball the bartender gave us.
It turned out the tickets the bartender sold my dad were first row behind the Giants’ dugout. I guess this explains my desire for great seats whenever I go to a game. Each inning after McCovey would toss practice grounders to the infielders I would stand up with my glove as a target for him to throw me the ball, he never did but one of the coaches saw me doing this and after one of the innings he rolled the ball on the dugout right to me.
Bobby D’s note: for an 8 year old, this was awesome. I still remember that the coach put a spin on the ball so it came right to me. This is why I was so impressed by the actions of Jon Burnham which I chronicled in this blog. I do remember that Fergie Jenkins pitched that day because my dad kept saying how great it was that we got to see Fergie pitch. I did go back and found the box score from that game. The Cubs won 9 – 5, Fergie pitched a complete game and Billy Williams went 3 for 5 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. And it was this game, my first ever baseball game, that my love for the Cubs was born.
Awesome Bobby D note: the picture attached to this blog is an autographed Fergie Jenkins photo we got him to personally sign when Charlie and I met him at a spring training game in late March in Arizona. Charlie and I told Fergie all about my first ever game; Willie Wilson and Rollie Fingers were sitting next to Fergie listening intently to our story.
To this day, if it is my first game at Wrigley for that season, I buy a Cub hat. I also always get there early, go to either Murphy’s or the Cubby Bear and belly up to the bar and have a beer. Last season I got to do this with my wife Charlie and my stepson Brent. We bellied up to the bar and each had a beer. It was my first Wrigley game of the season and I did have a new Cub hat, one that Charlie had just bought for me. Seems she remembered reading about it in one of my blogs and knew the significance of the hat as well as the beer.
DB: “As someone who has watched the Undercover Boss and saw Tom Ricketts interact with his staff, I was left feeling his family would be great owners to have. What is the cities consensus about the ownership right now?”
BD: “I saw that episode and actually parked in the Green Lot and met Jose, the parking lot attendant from the show, to see if the promised changes were made. The Ricketts family did stick to their word and had a temperature controlled trailer for the workers in the lot.
The overall feeling was a good one when the Ricketts family acquired the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Tom Ricketts has been a Cub fan since 1984 and met his wife in the bleachers at a game. Tom and his brother Peter used to live in an apartment across from Wrigley on the corner of Addison and Sheffield. What true Cub fan hasn’t dreamt of playing for the Cubs, managing the Cubs or owning the Cubs? With the Ricketts family, Cub fans had an owner who was living the dream.
Bobby D’s note: I actually had to do some research for this part of the answer. Gotta love Wikipedia.
The Ricketts family made the perfect move and gained credibility when they hired Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and Jed Hoyer as General Manager. This was a key move for them as they needed to distance themselves from the everyday baseball operation and let baseball people run the baseball operation. The Cubs also needed a sense of direction. Over the past years under the ownership of the Tribune Company, there never seemed to be a plan – just spend money on free agents, make the team look attractive to a potential buyer and heck with the future; that is the next guy’s issue. With Epstein and Hoyer running the operation, there appears to be a long-term plan.
The next step for the Ricketts family will be to upgrade Wrigley Field. The Ricketts have been working with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to secure public funding for the renovation of Wrigley. A renovated Wrigley with upgraded restrooms, concessions and seating along with revenue producing party decks and club sections is needed for the Cubs to be competitive financially against teams with newer ballparks such as the Cardinals and Brewers.”
DB: “Will the team struggle to sellout every game in the 2012 season?”
BD: “I am afraid the Cubs will struggle with attendance this season unless they get off to a hot start and become an overachieving type of team. We Chicagoans do love an overachiever. The Cubs do have the third highest ticket prices in MLB behind the Yankees and Red Sox. This past off-season the Cubs dramatically cut back payroll and have gone into rebuilding mode. I highly doubt that Cub fans will be willing to pay high ticket prices for what will be perceived as an inferior product. In addition, the Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls look to make long runs in the NHL & NBA playoffs this season which will add competition for the sports entertainment dollar in Chicago for the first few months of the MLB season.
Bobby D’s note: I sure did jinx the Hawks and Bulls. But I got this one correct - have you seen the empty seats at Wrigley this season!
The Cubs do sell a lot of season tickets though and have a long waiting list to purchase them. I am currently 57,641 on the wait list. A troubling sign for the Cubs is that the waiting list is dwindling quickly. When I registered for the waiting list in November 2007 I was 74,000 in line. I moved up 4,000 places by the start of the 2011 season and was on pace to have season tickets for the 2081 season. This off-season I moved up 13,000 places, at this pace I will have them by the 2016 season.
There is one positive though for Cub fans who enjoy going to Wrigley regardless of how good (or bad) the Cubs are playing is that the secondary ticket market should be flooded with tickets. Other than the marquee games against the Cardinals and Red Sox, good seats should be easy to get at fairly reasonable prices.”
***Thank you to our Wrigley Field Expert- Bob DeVries for participating in today’s article. To read about more the SADS foundation and how you can donate to the Shawn Devries Fund click here. ***
Wow – that was a long one (insert joke here). In retrospect I may have been plagiarizing by posting this interview but then again I am plagiarizing myself so what’s the harm.
I am going to go to a new schedule of posting blogs. I will have a new blog every Monday and Friday with a blast from the past remix blog on Wednesday’s, basically taking a blog from 2009 or 2010 and adding some comments. Might be fun, but then again it might not be. Only time will tell.
That about wraps things up, so for now this is so long and good bye where I had joke about plagiarizing one’s self, but in the new PG-13 my blog site lives in - I had to refrain. I better wrap this up, I have an eye doctor appointment today –having trouble seeing lately, wonder what’s up with that?