by Kent Sterling
Thank God for DVR technology. Otherwise, I never could have kept up with the spate of simple autobiographical blunders that peppered an uncomfortable interview with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies in the top of the seventh prior to Mr. Cub singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during today’s home opening 7-4 loss.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Ernie Banks. He was the first professional athlete I cared about, even though he was at the very end of his career when I watched him flip those powerful wrists. During a time when race relations prompted riots, Ernie smiled and enjoyed his job.
He’s still smiling, but I wasn’t as the interview became odd. And it’s not like Ernie just started to get foggy. WGN never should have spoken to the poor guy, regardless of his iconic status at Wrigley Field.
Here are some of the odder recollections:
Oddly, Ernie hijacked the interview from the first moment to recall that Deshaies played college basketball. Deshaies said that he did not play college basketball. Ernie said that he believed Deshaies went to Syracuse. No, Deshaies said, he went to Lemoyne. Then Ernie turned to Len, and correctly recalled that he went to Marquette, and then said they produced only one great player, “David Wade.”
It got worse.
Len: “How old were you when you came here for the first time?”
Ernie: “I was 19 years old. I looked out here and was singing the song by Shirley MacLaine, ‘Is that All There Is’.”
Oh boy. Twenty one words, and nearly as many errors. Ernie was born on January 31, 1931. His first game at Wrigley Field was September 17, 1953. That would make him 22 for his debut. “Is That All There Is?” was first recorded in 1968, but the rendition that was a hit was sung by Peggy Lee, not MacLaine, in 1969 – a full 16 years after Banks believed he sang the song.
Ernie: “…when Bob Pappas pitched his no-hitter”
Yes, old Bob Pappas. Maybe they called Milt Pappas “Bob” in the clubhouse?
Ernie: “I came here in 1954.”
Yeah, no. 1953. If you had come to Wrigley in 1954, he would have been another year deficient in his assessment of being at Wrigley for the first time when he was 19.
Normally, Len continues with the interview to the end of the half inning, but Ernie was cut a little bit short as the situation started to spin into interview chaos.
WGN never should have put the poor guy on.
Sadly that was the “best” interview Ernie has given in years. Sadly I am not kidding
Not bad for an 82 year old. Yes, sweet Ernie is slipping a bit, but Len and Jim handled it with grace. Even if it was bittersweet to view, his appearance was a highlight of the game. I hope the Cubbies let him sing every year he’s able.