The day I met Chicago Cub Ryne Sandberg

The day I met Chicago Cub Ryne Sandberg

As I trolled along Facebook tonight, I spotted a post shared by fellow ChicagoNow blogger, Raining Cats and Dogs, about Ryne Sandberg purchasing a home in Lake Bluff. 

As a self-professed non-fan of baseball, and an especially huge non-fan of celebrities in general, I normally would have just scrolled on by without a glance.

However, for some strange reason, this particular article made a very forgotten memory come roaring back, so here it is – the day I met Chicago Cub Ryne Sandberg…

Flashback to the late 1980’s. It could have been 1987, but I’m not sure. I was working in the food court at the Mt. Prospect Golf Club as a server and short order cook to help pay for college, so I was about 20 years old.

I think it was early in the golf season, and we were either really slow, or closed – this part of the memory is fuzzy.

As I was cleaning the tables in our dining area, a tall man and his daughter wandered in.

Surprised by anyone being there, I didn’t recognize him at first; all I saw was his adorable little girl, dressed in the cutest, pinkest little piece of fluff, girlie dress I had ever seen. She was holding an artfully wrapped present and there were balloons – one, maybe two.

She was dressed for a party, and he looked horribly uncomfortable. After a double take, I realized that this tall man (keep in mind I’m only 5′ 3″, so everyone is tall to me) was Ryne Sandberg, the star second baseman of the Chicago Cubs.

Everyone in Chicago knew who Ryne Sandberg was, even me, a Southsider, non-fan.

He said something like, “We’re here for the birthday party?” And yes, it was a question.

Like I said, the poor man looked incredibly uncomfortable with the entire situation, especially because anyone walking into the building could tell there was no fancy, little girl birthday party at our facility that day.

After apologizing and explaining we had no parties on our calendar, I suggested that perhaps it was at the Old Orchard Country Club, also in Mt. Prospect.

Since these were the days long before smartphones, GPS, the internet and Google, all we had was good, old-fashioned maps and people that knew how to give and take directions.

I have no idea how he confused the country club with the park district golf club, but it happened. I gave him directions to Old Orchard, and off he and his little pink fluff of a girl went. Gosh, she was adorable.

That was it. That was the day I met Ryne Sandberg in person. I didn’t even ask for an autograph, and I imagine he was pretty grateful to escape quickly – they were probably late for the party!

It’s strange how one fleeting Facebook post dragged that memory from the recesses of my brain on opening day.

I’ll leave this post with one, final agonizing thought. That little pink fluff of a girl is probably in her thirties now. How’s that for painful?

John 13:34-35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Have you ever had a celebrity encounter? How did you handle it? Did you ask for an autograph or leave the person be?

Tell me about it here, then swing by my Facebook page and like it. You’ll find stuff about coffee, food and faith.

If you liked this post, you may like these, too:

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