Tagged: Mke Scmidt

Summer of ’75

The Summer of ’75

The
summer of ’75 and I was 20 years old, kinda drifting and looking for
exactly what to do when I grow up. Some say that is yet to happen. At
twenty I thought I knew all there was to know.

Baseball
was changing, but we still had some of the old school players hanging
on, as well as a new breed of player breaking into the show. That
year Fred Lynn won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. A great start
for the kid. Paul and Rick Reuschel became the first brothers to
combine for a shutout. Our affectionate nicknames for the duo were
Barrel Boy I and Barrel Boy II.

Gerald
Ford was president and on January 1
st
the Watergate burglars were convicted. Running back Franco Harris was
Super Bowl IX MVP as his Steelers beat the Vikings 16-6. Jack
Nicklaus won the Masters and Godfather II won Best Picture.

In
1975 my dad was the National Sales Manager for Tootsie Roll on
Chicago’s south side. Tootsie Roll ran a huge promotion that summer
with Major League Baseball. It was found that the 1 millionth run
would be scored in the early part of the season. Tootsie Roll ran a
contest to predict the player and day the millionth would be scored.
As part of the contest, major league players both current and past
would be representatives at all the big league parks until the
historic run was scored. MLB predicted that the big run would be
scored in a two day period.

My
brother’s and I were allowed to man the phones as the millionth was
to be scored. They arranged for a party line open in all the
ballparks games were being played. The idea was to call out the park
and the player’s name the instant he stepped on home plate.

The
tours that were run by Tootsie Roll and MLB were great fun and we
were able to hobnob with a bunch of our childhood heroes. Among the
players were Ernie Banks, Stan MusiaI, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer,
Al Kaline, Mickey Lolich, Mike Schmidt, Robin Yount, George Brett,
and many others that I can’t recall offhand. But the parties were
great and the stories memorable.

On
May 4, Marty and I were in Milwaukee with Ernie Banks when the long
awaited moment happened. At 12:32pm a shout came over the phone line,
Candlestick, Watson! That was it, the 1,000,000
th
run! It should be noted that four seconds later the call was heard,
Riverfront, Conncepcion! Four seconds and a million pennies late.

Bob
Watson had scored from second base on a Milt May homer. Concepcion
scored on his own homer. What excitement and what memories to be a
small part of Baseball’s great history. A kid had picked Watson and
won the prize of one million pennies. Tootsie Roll and MLB did not
think that a million pennies may be a logistical nightmare so they
ended up after much consternation presenting the boy and his father
with a check for ten thousand dollars. Great Stuff!

As
a thank you for our volunteer participation in the promotion, Marty
and I received 8 tickets for the 1975 All Star game in Milwaukee. Our
seats were in a private box behind the third base dugout. Even back
then, County St adium was famous for it’s pre and post game tailgate
parties. So being the young hounds that we were we made certain to
pack the cars with a grill, food and plenty of liquid libations. We
took of in a caravan of two from Oak Park for the two hour ride to
Milwaukee.

1975AllStar.gif

 
We
set up shop in the main parking lot. Coals heating, and the beers
flowing. As was the custom in that era, not much thought was given to
how we might drive ourselves home.

The
party raged until it was time to find our seats. I must say we were
feeling no pain. We were stopped at the gate as security wondered why
this bunch of ragtag hippies had such elite tickets. We dropped a few
names and under protest we were led to our box by private ushers. The
park was electric. The row behind us was completely empty so we
thought, why not spread out a bit. Myself and my buddy Tim climbed
over the back of our seats and set up shop. First order of business
was more beer. We had our own vendor at our beck and call, he
informed us he would get us anything we needed, free of charge. Woo
Hoo!

The
pregame festivities continued with all the fanfare you can imagine.
Players, coaches from both leagues were introduced to loud cheers and
boos. The first pitch was tossed by Henry Kissinger who bounced one
in, like skipping a rock, to home plate. A few minutes later we found
out why the row we were in was empty. It was reserved for Mr.
Kissinger and his Secret Service buddies. We again had to explain why
were were there. All was good and we returned to our assigned seats
and settled in for an exciting game.

Some
of my favorite players of the time were in the game. For the National
League, Cub Bill Madlock was at third, he had a great time and won
the game’s MVP honor. I should note that Bill won the National League
Batting title two years running and the Cub’s felt they had to deal
him away to the Giants, that was one huge blunder.

Also
playing for the National League was Hank Aaron who pinch hit, it was
Hank’s last of 24 straight All Star appearances. Pete Rose and Lou
Brock participated. Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench were also on the
National League squad.

Goose
Gossage,Vida Blue, and Catfish Hunter were part of the American
League rotation. Carl Yastrzemeski, Reggie Jackson, and Hank Aaron
were notable on the American roster.

All
in all a great game. The Yaz hit a three run homer in the sixth to
knot it up at 3 apiece. Unfortunately the American League committed
two errors in the ninth allowing 3 runs and the Nats won the game
6-3.

I
tried to talk foreign affairs with Mr Kissinger during the game, but
I think he was humoring me while blowing me off. I don’t think the
Secret Service was very happy with us either.

We
made it home with a few brain cells left and a whole lot of great
memories. In all my years being a baseball fan, that was the only All
Star game I have attended. I did attend the NHL Hockey All Star game
at Chicago Stadium during the first Gulf War. But that is a story for
another day.

Where’s The
Weather?

When
will Spring really arrive in Chicago?……..hoping Carlos Pena will
find a bat that suits him
, we
need some kind of production from him……… they say Soriano is a
hard working guy, what does he work on? Fielding?………new
nickname for Aramis Ramirez, “slow-mo”………

My
Two Cents

Cubs Trivia

What
Washington Senator’s 5
th
round draft pick, won two National League Batting crowns for the
Cubs, and four in his career? He came to the Cubs in a trade with
Texas for Ferguson Jenkins.

Answer to
Last Trivia Question

This
outfielder is the only Cubs player during the 20th Century to have a
hitting streak of at least 30 games. Name him.

Jerome
Walton

See you
next time!