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Bill Mitchell’s Day Out

By Bill Mitchell

It was the late 60s. I met Steve at his house and off we went in his big ‘ol Caddy. We were pointed toward Wrigley Field; Opening Day.

Arriving at Clark and Addison, Steve gave the keys to a Chicago Police officer and told him to take care of the car until we returned from the game. Now, there would be endless security and identification checks, but this was a different time. It was a warm, sunny day, mid-60s, unusual for Opening Day, so there was a good crowd.

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Bill Mitchell
Tickets? Steve didn't have tickets; he had a plan! We headed for this small side door and along with some reporters and a couple local celebrities walked through the pass gate, said "hello" to everyone in our path, and wished the Cubs good luck. They all seem to know Steve. He looked the part: tall, tan, camelhair sports coat and turtleneck, very chic, a 60s sheik. He looked like someone that belonged in baseball--broadcasting, marketing, management, or something. Anyway, he just looked like he belonged. Through the gate we went.

Lunch? Steve led me up to the Pink Poodle, the name of the Cubs private press lounge inside Wrigley Field, catering to those people that belonged. Me, I just tagged along, expecting to be challenged and then escorted out to Clark Street.

That didn't happen. Opening Day is just that, and I guess the staff wasn't expecting people that didn't belong. We ate a great buffet lunch, and then went out on the field behind home plate. That’s right: we merely walked down through the box seat section, to the field level gate, opened it, walked through. There we were. This was during batting practice for the Cardinals. I couldn't stop laughing. A stray ball rolled by Steve's foot; he picked it up, and promptly had Tim McCarver, the Cards catcher, autograph it.

Now for seats!!! Of course we didn't have any seats, but that just appealed to Steve’s creative side. Up we went to the broadcast area, a catwalk with glassed-in booths for the TV and radio personnel. Past Jack Brickhouse, past Ray Scott, on to the next booth, which was vacant, not yet swept out from the previous Bears game in December. Steve called out to the Andy Frain usher, "Get some chairs in here," adding, "and bring us some beers and hot dogs too." They complied, because it looked like we belonged, didn't we?

Soon after that, though, the people that really did belong showed up at our box. As it turned out they were from an advertising agency in the city, one that my sister happened to work for. Did they know Marie Mitchell? Sure, they knew her. Soon we were one big happy group.

The game? I don't remember who won. We left and Steve's car was waiting for him at the corner; he tipped the officer accordingly. On the way back home Steve commented on what a fun day we had and wanted to know if I wanted to go to that night's Black Hawks game!!!

Bill Mitchell, a sales rep for North American Press in Streamwood, is a Guest Loser. Bill has been a Chicago Cubs fan all his life, played catcher throughout school, and coached his son's baseball team for many years later. He attended University of Wisconsin on a wrestling scholarship. His son shares his love of the Cubs and they have many adventures to relate of great trips to Wrigley Field together.

Posted on Monday, April 21, 2008 at 07:25PM by Registered CommenterLovable Losers Literary Revue in , | Comments6 Comments | References2 References

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