On the field at Wrigley

On the Apprentice this week the winning team got to go on the field of Shea Stadium and play a little baseball with some Mets players. (is that really a reward, couldn’t they have gone to see the Yankees?) Craig mentioned how he thought that’d be a cool thing to do and it reminded me of the time I got onto the field of Wrigley Field in Chicago (home of the Chicago Cubs).

In 1990, I worked for a small TV production company in Chicago as a gopher/audio-tech/PA and went on shoots for private clients, local TV stations and CNBC and ESPN. That year, the all-star game was in Chicago and ESPN was all over it. I did numerous shoots for them in the weeks before the game but one was much more special than the others.

Our assignment: an interview with Don Zimmer at practice before a Cubs day game. Once we got there and found the PR rep, we followed him into the park. I’d been here many times before as one of the thousands of fans that filled the stands. But the seats were empty; the players were all around the diamond doing sit-ups. I loved this park and this team, so I was already excited. Then he led us right onto the field. Stepping in the grass, walking around the bases as we headed to find the coach, I was in complete awe. I couldn’t help but look around trying to soak it all in.

Then I felt myself bump into someone. It was Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (for you n0n-cubs fans he was the second baseman for the Cubs) doing sit-ups. Here I am a huge fan, and I nearly trip over him – I could imagine the headlines: “MVP Sandberg sidelined by careless TV crew”.

The interview with head coach Don Zimmer (who later went onto the Yankees) was fine. He kept spitting tobacco at my feet–gross!–and my job was to hold the boom mike as close to his face as possible without getting it soaked with that tobacco. I didn’t really pay any attention to whatever he was saying, I was still just looking at all the players and the stadium in complete awe.

Working in TV gave me all sorts of great opportunities like this one, its really one of the things I miss most about leaving TV and working on software and the Internet. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to turn this blog thing into another trip back to Wrigley Field.

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