This is how I feel this morning as I sit at O'Hare Airport heading to the east coast. I have just finished two of the most memorable days in my baseball obsessed life. Here are a few of the highlights:
I left very early in the morning to get to Chicago in plenty of time to get to the park. I love the sounds of an empty stadium before they open the gates for the fans. That is when I snapped the wallpaper image I posted yesterday.
The Allen family tree was well represented. Including Dick's wife, his brothers Hank & Ron, his son Richard and grandson Richard III.
The weather in Chicago was simply perfect. Having lived in Texas for 15 years, I forgot how amazing a 70 degree day with the natural air conditioning of Lake Michigan could be. I also rediscovered WLS, the old AM radio station of my youth has been reincarnated on the FM dial. The best part is, they still play the music I love to hear and know all the words to the songs.
This painting (which sold at over $500 at the auction) was based on the original slide (which I own) and put on this site.
Sitting with Dick and his family was former Sox slugger Carlos May. I reached out to shake his hand and say "Semper Fi" to my former Marine Corps brother. As I was doing that, another guy was telling Dick how nice it would be to have a statue of him inside the Sox ballpark. Dick scoffed at the idea and then quipped "I don't want to be out there if I don't have my man Carlos May out there to protect me..."
I also got to meet the incomparable Mark Liptak from White Sox Interactive. He originally alerted me (and invited me) to this event months ago. At the speaking portion of the night, Mark gave an unbelievable verbal account of the 1972 White Sox season that lasted for at least 30 minutes, with no notes. Very impressive.
They showed a cool video created for the Chicago Baseball Museum, with actual footage of Dick's two inside the park home runs against the Twins in 1972. Goose Gossage praised Dick Allen as "the best teammate and player he had ever seen". Goose shared in no uncertain terms how much he loves the man. He also told the crowd that "Reggie Jackson is full of shit"... which got a huge laugh.
Just like she did when he walked up to the plate at Comiskey Park, Nancy Faust played the theme from "Jesus Christ, Superstar" as Dick Allen prepared to speak. While not the most polished public speaker, the man was visibly moved by all the attention and adulation he was receiving. In true DA fashion, he deflected it back to his teammates and expressed his humility.
After the program ended, I worked up the courage to ask both Rich Gossage and Nancy Faust for their autographs. Both happily signed, sending me on my way like a 10 year old kid.
Finally, I also was very pleased to meet the one and only Leo Bauby. Leo is the one guy that I know in the world that has more Dick Allen images than I do. We chatted for some time and I plan on following up on his offer to meet and look at his collection.
I am not sure I can ever top this experience. I am really really blessed.