So, on this very page, I have chastised the great Ernie Banks for virtually always sporting a ‘Mr. Cub’ ballcap. I’ve written how I don’t think he needs it, and as the Chicago Cubs legend, he should know better and actually be above such petty self-promotion.
As always, I must now come clean.
I was lucky enough to score extremely impressive VIP tickets to the owners pavilion at the BMW Championship both last year and again this year. As you may have read, no matter his marital infidelity and subsequent media punishment, I’m still a huge Tiger Woods fan and felt the Thursday round was my best chance to follow Tiger around Dubsdread and enjoy the tournament. More on that to come.
So, when I arrived at the event this past afternoon, I parked myself inside the pavilion to hastily wolf down a surprisingly tasty cheeseburger and Späten draft (you read that right, amazing beer on tap) before I hit the course to track down Tiger. As a point of reference, there are extra-large comfy bleachers directly outside the glassed in pavilion which overlook the 18th green, probably the best seats on the entire course. As I sat inside slurping my beer, I noticed a gentleman sitting in the seats outside wearing a cap with the immediately recognizable script signature (I have a couple of autographs) of Ernie Banks stitched into the back. I did a double take and then instantly realized who it actually was. (picture above)
Yes, I recognized the greatest Cub of all time explicitly due to the very cap for which I have personally rebuked him.
Of course, I shrieked like a little girl at Christmas and turned to tell the first person I saw, one of the hundred or so polite-as-can-be servers that was ERNIE BANKS sitting right there! To which she replied, “Oh yeah, Mr. Banks? He’s just as sweet as pie.” Sweet as pie? Ex-fucking-cuse me? Does she know that “Mr. Banks” hit his 500th home run off Atlanta’s Pat Jarvis on May 12, 1970 (5 weeks after I was born) like I do? Does she know Ernie played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League with my late acquaintance Buck O’Neil, like I do, I haughtily thought? Yet here this lovely young woman was telling me something about Mr. Banks that had never even crossed my mind. He’s sweet as pie. Who knew?
I started sweating profusely because I knew I had to get a picture for the website, although phones and cameras are strictly forbidden inside the gates as I was repeatedly reminded upon entrance. So, I gathered what courage I have and walked briskly through the glass double doors while at the same time manipulating my Android phone to the camera function so I wouldn’t leave Ernie hanging uncomfortably if I got the chance. I sat a row behind him across the aisle and froze for a second. I realized I didn’t know what to call him. Should I say Ernie? Mr. Banks? Did I dare a “Mr. Cub”?
His back was to me and I finally choked…“Mr. Banks…can I please get a picture?” He flat ignored me. Ignored the hell outta me, actually. You may notice the tubby guy behind him in the picture above. That fattard glared at me and sputtered, “Hey, there aren’t supposed to be any cameras.” To which I replied…“Dude, are you that guy?” Buoyed by that bloated idiot, I seized my moment immediately. I walked a couple of steps down, held up the phone/camera and was completely prepared to snap a picture of the side of Ernie’s head. At that very moment, he turned his head, as he has probably done hundreds of thousands of times in the last 60 years, smiled for me and I snapped the pic…honestly hoping I wasn’t shaking enough to blur the shot.
I then said “Thanks, Mr. Banks…I’m a huge fan.” To which he stuck his Hall of Fame right hand out and said “Thank you, son.” I shook his hand, scurried up the stairs and back into the pavilion, looking over my shoulder to see if some overzealous temporary BMW hospitality employee was chasing me down to eject me from the event for unauthorized man-worship, but alas nobody really cared and I was free to pursue another sports legend, Tiger Woods.
I didn’t cry. I swear. You can ask anyone.