If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words does it take to write about a picture that you can’t find?
Not quite 1,000, I can assure you. I’m guessing somewhere in the 750 range.
During my time with the Cubs – especially during my media relations days – I didn’t collect a ton of memorabilia. For some reason, I painted some high-and-mighty “professional decorum” label on myself. Sure, I have a few photos and some autographs, but I don’t have a museum to display.
The further removed I am from my time with the Cubs, though, I wish I hadn’t held myself up to that exacting standard. I realize most items you acquire go on to become clutter, but it would be nice to have a few more mementos of my time at Clark and Addison streets. Some would be fun just to show off to my kids. Some would definitely be worth sharing with all of you. And most importantly, some would be great story fodder – especially if it was artwork that could supplement the narrative.
I wish I had pictures of myself with Harry Caray … or Ernie Banks … or Ron Santo … or Jack Brickhouse. Too late for that.
I wish I had pictures of myself with some of the celebrities I crossed paths with over the years, like Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines and Bill Murray and Charlie Sheen and a host of others. Nope, I didn’t do the fanboy thing.
Granted, I do have some photos with some Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. Maybe I’ll trot out those beauty and the beast pictures at some point (by beast, I’m referring to me).
But … do you know what’s worse than not having physical memorabilia? Breaking down, asking to take a picture, knowing you have possession of the photo, and then not being able to find it. Aargh.
The exact year is sketchy, but I know it was in the early 1990s. This one morning before batting practice, a member of the Cubs’ marketing department told me that she was going to be escorting ZZ Top around. If I wanted to meet the band members, stop by the dugout during BP.
I couldn’t have gotten through my early years in college without MTV; growing up inside Chicago city limits, I had never actually had cable TV before I went away to college. And one of my favorite MTV groups was ZZ Top.
I know it’s supposed to be about the music and not the videos, but think about those songs: “Legs” … “Sharp Dressed Man” … “Gimme All Your Lovin’.”
I’d still watch those videos today if I knew how to work the TV remotes at home. Thinking about those guys in cowboy hats and long 12-inch beards. I still can’t just listen to “Cheap Sunglasses,” as my kids constantly get on me whenever I sing anything from the ’80s.
“When you get up in the morning and the light is hurt your head
The first thing you do when you get up out of bed
Is hit that streets a-runnin' and try to beat the masses
And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses”
As it turned out, the two bearded members of ZZ Top – Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons – were indeed at Wrigley Field that particular day. Both were very friendly. Both stayed out of the way, opting to watch batting practice from the dugout.
I broke my vow and approached them, asking if it would be OK to take a picture with them. Of course, they agreed – and team photographer Steve Green took a picture of me with Hill and Gibbons. It was a great photo – a smiling me with my two-inch thick glasses sandwiched between two guys in big black cowboy hats and indescribably long beards.
There’s no other way to put it … I was super-nerd between two super-cool musicians.
That photo went on to infamy as the centerpiece of the Cubs’ holiday party slide show – with the emcee (I won’t sell him out) making some reference about my spending a Saturday morning sitting with a pair of Hassidic rabbis. Heck, it was a funny line! And if I had the picture to show you, you’d find it funny, too.
It’s been roughly 25 years since that photo was taken, and I wish I knew where it was. I know I had a framed copy of it back in my apartment days, but it’s whereabouts these days are unknown.
Hopefully one of these days that photo will magically reappear. And if it does, I'll surely share it.