Cubs take Ozzy, Vanna out of the ball game

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 27, 2013
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By CARYN ROUSSEAU and DON BABWIN Associated Press Maybe it was race driver Jeff Gordon's shout out to the fans at "Wrigley Stadium." Or Ozzy Osbourne, who decided the lyrics of "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" were not nearly as interesting as the mostly unintelligible words he'd picked out for himself. Or perhaps it was actress Denise Richards, who brought along a little cheat sheet in case she forgot the words. Whatever the reason, the Chicago Cubs have decided to make the broadcast booth at Wrigley Field, and more importantly, the microphone, off limits to the likes of Vanna White, Erik Estrada and Mickey Rooney. Marion Ross will apparently be the last member of the "Happy Days" cast to sing during the seventh-inning stretch. No more Kid Rock, who, as the story goes, knew it was customary to say something at the end of the song, but went with "Let's get some lunch!" instead of the more traditional "Let's get some runs." "I think the last couple of years we had gotten away to a couple of people who weren't tied to Chicago," said Jim Oboikowitch, the Cubs in-game programming director in what might be a bit of understatement after more than a decade of Peter Frampton, David Cassidy, Barbara Eden and Frank Sinatra (Junior) leading the Wrigley faithful in song. Some fans are pleased. "It was a good idea at first," Al Yellon, who runs bleedcubbieblue.com, said of the Cubs' decision to allow celebrities to take over the job the late Harry Caray handled so famously for so many years. "But it turned into a celebrity fest with D-list celebrities." Ouch. Actor Joe Mantegna, a Chicago native and lifelong Cubs fan who has led the singing at Wrigley at least four times, said he agrees with the change. The co-author of play "Bleacher Bums" said there is something wrong with some "Jose Schmo who won an Oscar, is from Canada and hates baseball" donning a Cubs jersey and singing the song. Wrong in many ways, too: See YouTube for the evidence and bring your ear plugs. At the same time, as a fan of a team that hasn't won the World Series since 1908, Mantegna won't rule out bringing in someone - anyone- if it can somehow help the Cubs break the most infamous drought in American sports. "If it takes bringing a Martian to sing to get into the World Series, I'd advocate for that," he said. The song is played during the stretch around the major leagues, usually the ballpark organist leading the fans in song. Some parks have their own traditions, of course - Fenway Park and Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline," for example. The Florida Marlins tried to skip "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" to go with dancers leading fans to Gloria Estefan songs, a tradition that lasted all of two games. For a team that doesn't exactly have a long history of embracing change - lights didn't arrive until 1988 - messing with a musical tradition tied forever to Caray might seem a dramatic step. But the Cubs have a new regime in place, with Theo Epstein and other front-office personnel trying to turn around baseball's famous losers and chairman Tom Ricketts pressing for upgrades to Wrigley, the oldest ballpark in the majors behind Fenway. The Cubs are coming off a year in which they lost 100 games in a season (101, actually) for the first time since 1966 and just the third time in their history. So maybe change is a good thing, wherever it comes. Not everybody is warmed by the thought that they have seen the last of Tom Arnold or Dawn Wells in the broadcast booth. "Part of the fun was having Erik Estrada up there," said Steve Rhodes, a longtime fan whose Chicago-oriented website, The Beachwood Reporter, once posted a song "Don't Start Believin'" to remind other fans what happens whenever they get their hopes up. "This is kind of the Cubs screwing up in reverse again (because) it was something stupid they should never have done in the first place but then making it worse by taking the fun part away, all these D listers." Caray, then with the White Sox, is credited with singing the song first at a game. He was so bad that team owner Bill Veeck had the idea to secretly put a microphone in the booth so everyone could join in and, well, mask the warbling. And join in they did, first at White Sox games and then at Wrigley, when Caray started his run with the Cubs in 1982. Fifteen years after his death, Caray is still part of the celebration, both inside the park where some guest singers still mention him, and outside, where fans can see a statute of Caray in his famous singing pose. Oboikowitch said the new plan calls for handing the microphone over to people like former Cubs players and various Chicago celebrities like actors Vince Vaughn and Gary Sinise. Always welcome would be any member of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears, of course. "They're always exciting for people to see ... to have them back and relive some of the glory," Oboikowitch said. That's not to say there won't be rough patches. Da Coach himself, Mike Ditka, raced through the entire song in a matter of seconds. Former Bears lineman Steve McMichael was the first - and last - guest singer to be ejected from the game by an umpire who didn't appreciate McMichael's critique of a call he'd just made. Rhodes also said the new plan could mean the same guest performers, from John and Joan Cusack to anyone who once performed at the city's famed comedy club, The Second City, sing over and over again. "You're telling me we're going to get more Jim Belushi?" he asked. "That's not a recipe for success in my book."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

U.S. national soccer teams to wear LGBT-themed jerseys to celebrate pride month

Mike Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater still has ‘long ways to go’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Report: Clippers concerned about Chris Paul leaving to sign with Spurs

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker