Friday, October 26, 2007

Ryne Sandberg; It's a Chicago thing

Ryne signing a baseball I caught at a Cubs game for my Ryne earlier today in Roscoe Village.

On a beautiful spring day called May 1st, 1991 I was randomly selected to be a Chicago Cubs bat-boy. Actually it wasn't so random as the long time clubhouse manager Yosh Kawano hand picked me early before the game because I looked like I'd fit the uniform.

I did fit into it thankfully, as there was 17,000 plus fans there to watch me step onto Wrigley Field. At fifteen years old, a baseball player and big fan, it didn't get any better. There I am suiting up with Mark Grace, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliff, and of course, Ryne Sandberg. In fact I sat next to Sandberg's locker.

The day quickly got better as I played catch with then third baseman Gary Scott and stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the game's best, hat over heart, listening to the National Anthem. Then it was to work as I collected bats, sunflower seeds, gum and Gatorade for the players. Batter up! I took my seat in the dugout next to Sutcliff and Mike Bilecki as the starting Cubs took the field and future Hall of Fame picher Greg Maddux took the mound. While the Cubs were batting I sat on the field.

I have a million stories from that day. None cooler than meeting Grace, Sandberg and Dawson at home plate after Dawson's three run homer, giving high-fives and trotting into the dugout with three future Hall of Fame players (Grace and Dawson are not in yet, but will be). Maddux has been my favorite pitcher from the day he started with the Cubs.

Fifteen years or so later, my first son is born. Somehow my wife under the influence of considerable drugs from the labor, agrees to name our son Ryne. Although not entirely the reason for the name, I grew up watching Ryne Sandberg play baseball day in and day out. Watching those games was a joyous and important part of my childhood. Besides, we wanted an interesting name with a positive connotation. You could do worse than Sandberg and we hope our little Ryno enjoys the connection to a Chicago icon.

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