THIRTEEN FAMOUS FOLKS
the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field
As we enter the playoff chapter of this storybook Cub season, there's something that needs to be said: I’m pissed at former First Fan Hillary Clinton. In her autobiography and through her years in the White House, she maintained her Cub fandom. But during the recent debate in New Hampshire, she spewed something so entirely unacceptable that I don’t believe she can be regarded as a fan ever again. When asked by Tim Russert which team she’d root for in a Cubs-Yankees World Series, she replied, “I guess I would have to alternate.” Huh? What?
So poof! She’s gone from the list. Here are 13 perhaps lesser known celebs who also root, root, root for the Cubbies … but unlike Hillary, they don’t “alternate.”
1. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame has thrown out the first pitch at several Cub games and has sung “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th Inning Stretch. A real Chicago sports fan, he also attends Bulls and Black Hawk games.
2. John Cusack, famous for holding that boombox over his head in the rain in Say Anything, is a Wrigley Field mainstay who has sung “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and hangs out in the WGN broadcast booth. There are ugly rumors that two years ago he “groveled” for Sox Series tickets and even denounced the Cubs to get them, but I choose to believe that story has been exaggerated.
3. John Dillinger. One of the Depression’s superstar bank robbers, Dillinger was a loyal Cub fan who risked arrest by openly attending a game at Wrigley Field less than a month before his demise at Chicago’s Biograph Theater.
4. Dennis Franz is best known as Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue. Franz was a creative force behind the wise and witty Bleacher Bums play about Cub fans, and appeared in the documentary about the Cubs All-Star third baseman Ron Santo, This Old Cub.
5. Steve Goodman. Famous for writing “The City of New Orleans” (Good night, America, how are you? Don’t you know me? I’m your native son), Steve was an uber fan. His cheerful “Go, Cubs, Go” is sung by fans as they file out of Wrigley Field after a victory (Lou Pinella says this makes him cry). Steve lost his battle with leukemia just days before he was scheduled to sing The National Anthem at the Cubs post-season home game in 1984. Jimmy Buffet took his place and, rumor has it, spread some of Steve’s ashes around home plate.
6. Bernie Mac. He is so a fan! I know there are those out there who blame him for what happened in 2003 because he referred to the team as the “NL champs” on TV long before it was a done deal. But that’s just silly. We all know 2003 was Bartman’s fault. Plus, Bernie is much funnier than Jim Belushi, who I’m not including on this list because he annoys me.
7. Joe Mantegna. Born in Chicago, he’s been nominated for three Emmys and a Golden Globe award. He’s appeared in at least two different productions of The Bleacher Bums (and, like Franz, has received a writing credit) and shows up in the bio of Cub legend Ron Santo, This Old Cub.
8. Bugs Moran. It was Bugs’ gang that suffered famously in that unfortunate little incident in February, 1929. But Bugs never entered the garage that fateful Valentine’s Day. At the last moment, he saw what he thought was a police car (it was really Capone’s men) and kept going. Such luck is unusual for Cub fans. It was no different in the 1920s than it is today – while Moran was a Cub fan, Capone was a White Sox fan. Never the twain shall meet.
9. Bill Murray. Oscar-nominated and a veteran of Saturday Night Live, Murray recently lent the Cubs moral support by visiting the dugout during their final series with the Marlins. Fond of Cub announcer Harry Caray, he spent quite a lot of time in the booth … and once rather famously left Harry speechless on air. When Harry asked Bill about his mother (also a great Cub fan), Bill replied, “She’s dead. And don’t ask about my dad, because he’s dead, too.”
10. Bob Newhart. Born in my hometown of Oak Park, he’s best known for his self-titled sitcoms. When it comes to baseball, he wisely stated that “being a Cub fan prepares you for life.” Truer words were never spoken.
11. William Peterson of CSI. Well-known on the Chicago theater scene before going on to TV and movies, Petersen is a life-long Cub fan who has both sung during the 7th Inning Stretch and thrown out the first pitch.
12. Gary Sinise. Oscar-nominated as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, the star of CSI:NY grew up in the Chicagoland area and is no stranger to Wrigley Field. He’s tossed out the first pitch and also appears in This Old Cub.
13. Vince Vaughn grew up on the Cubs, shot scenes of The Break-Up at Wrigley Field and then brought co-star/girlfriend Jennifer Aniston to the ballpark. Having the year’s hot couple within The Friendly Confines was one of the highlights of the dismal 2006 season. What a difference a year makes!
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