28 May 2009

May's Ted Simmons Run

Well, as promised, even in Indianapolis, we hit the Castle on the 23rd. After a night out at The Speedrome for some 1/5 mile short-track, there was a store on the way back to the hotel.

A couple of double cheese w/o pickles and a Large Orange Drink!! Kudos to Ted!

23 May 2009

The Story of "23" - Part II, Happy Ted Simmons Day

When last we left our fearless travelers, they were embracing the oncoming hangover and wondering "what IS that smell from the back of the car?"

We arrived back in Milwaukee around 2:30am to a mostly quiet house except for one or two guys watching television in the Chapter Room. We plopped the bag of grease onto the table and said, "Enjoy" and my three compatriots all went to their bedrooms. I hiked it back to the "beer can" (McCormick Hall) and tumbled into bed.

The next day, the story was already growing into one of travels of massive proportions. We had a lot of fun and people wanted to be part of it "the next time" we did it. Hell we didn't even want to think about the FIRST time we did it and people wanted a NEXT time already?

SEGUE to a couple weeks later. Rumors are swirling around the Brewers front office that they were done with Simmons and looking to either cut him free OR get something for him in a trade. Dink is pissed off. He's talking about Simmons and telling stories:

In October of 1982, the Brewers LOST the World Series to 'those who shall not be named' (but it was the same club Ted used to play for). Even though they lost, they still had a parade that went down Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee all the way to County Stadium to celebrate, I guess, being a bridesmaid. Dink remembered that the ONLY player in the parade who "rode alone" on the back of a convertible was Simmons and he was wearing dark sunglasses and just sat there. Dink said that he reached out to touch Simmons' hand and did, and then he ran down another block and did it again and again. Gee Dink, a little obsessed with the man?

About a week after the parade, Dink heard that Simmons was going to be signing autographs at a car dealer (probably Gordie Boucher's place) and so he showed up to get one. Simmons was sitting at a table alone, sunglasses on and just signing. As Dink got closer, he witnessed a frustrated Ted trying to sign, but the pen was running out of ink. Ted took the pen, looked at it, said outloud "This pen is really pissing me off" and then whipped it across the showroom asking for another.

Flash-forward to 1985 and the Delta Chi International Convention is being held in Chicago in July at the Chicago Hilton & Towers. The Brewers are in town playing the White Sox (see, they were in the American League then) and who does Dink see walking through the lobby with his wife and kids and of course, wearing sunglasses? Yep, Ted Simmons.

In what can only be described as some sort of cosmic idiocy, someone asked us when we were going to make another White Castle run and it dawns on Dink that the last one was on the 23rd of the month. Without bothering to look at a calendar, he proclaims that the next "run" would be on the 23rd and he christens it "Ted Simmons Day".

A tradition, and a drunken one at THAT, was started. It wasn't good enough to just go to White Castle, you had to "run the bases" around Wrigley as well (of course, to get rid of the empties).

This stupid, and frankly dangerous, tradition grew and grew fast. Before we knew it, we had two or three carloads of idiots driving to Chicago each month. Have you ever seen twelve guys trying to cram themselves into a White Castle bathroom? Not pretty.

The tradition expanded as well. It became a monthly contest to determine which one could eat the most Slyders and if, for some reason, you weren't in Milwaukee, it was okay to hit ANY Castle wherever you were. But without fail, it would ONLY happen on the 23rd of the month.

So, if you find yourself hungry and without a plan for today, why not head over and get a few Slyders in honor of Ted Simmons Day? I'm in Indianapolis and there are 16 stores here!

A few remnants stick with me out of this experience:
  1. 23 became my NEW lucky number. Until that time, my only lucky number was 14 which conveniently ALSO was for an 'against the grain' baseball player named Peter Edward Rose.
  2. I started collecting Ted Simmons baseball cards. I believe I have all but his '67 Rookie card and I followed his career closely
  3. Although I always loved the Castle, I am actually a member of their Market Research Cravers Panel (they didn't disqualify me for being in the industry) and most of the surveys I take are concept tests. Go try the new Pulled Pork Sammiches!!
  4. Out of the times I drove, there's the infamous 'tail pipe' incident that I'll share with you if you ask me and,
  5. If you work with me, you saw that I wore my White Castle shirt on Thursday to the office.
So that's a very long, two-day post involving crazy tales of drunken behavior all to explain why 23 is such a dear number to my heart. Thanks for letting me indulge.

PS: There are now White Castle's in Wisconsin (Racine and Kenosha) but I'm sure we would have still driven right by them to get to Chicago.
PPS: Simmons WAS traded the next spring to the Atlanta Braves for basically a pick-up truck full of bats and jock straps AND Rick Cerone (Hi Yankee fans!!) Rick only played one year behind the plate for the Brewers and the Catching legends died out in Brew Town.

22 May 2009

The Story of "23" - Part I

Most people I meet who know me as Duey23 or who have seen the same on my license plates usually ask about the nickname and then make a comment assuming that 23 is either in honor of Michael Jordan or Ryne Sandberg.

The look of bewilderment on their faces when I tell them who it's REALLY in honor of is usually worth the price of a 20 oz Diet Coke out of the company vendo.

Since tomorrow is the 23rd, I thought it would be a good time to share this story and officially document it, because, as you will see, "23" not only is special to me, it started a tradition that, for a short while, was an obsession amongst a small group of friends and Marquette Delta Chi Fraternity Brothers.

I've tried to figure out how to tell the story without revealing who "23" is before the end, and frankly, it's just impossible, so here we go...

23 honors of Ted Lyle Simmons, and as a Cub fan, it's only Ted from his Milwaukee Brewer & Atlanta Brave playing days, not any time before 1981!!!
But Ted did NOT drive the tradition. He was the upshot and/or outgrowth from, what else, drunken behavior by a bunch of college students.

It was the Fall of 1985, sometime after Halloween and the infamous Miami (Ohio) walk-out. It was a Thursday night just after 10:00pm and the phone in McCormick Hall 1225 rang.

"Duey, it's Dink. Me, Greff & JY are hungry, wanna go get some Slyders?"
"Where the hell's the nearest White Castle? I didn't think there were any in Wisconsin."
"We're going across the border"
"Where, Gurnee?"
"No, corner of Addison and Elston in Chicago."
"I'm there"

View Larger Map

We piled into JY's '73 Chrysler Newport, which, if you don't know the car, it's similar to a US Navy battleship in size and it handles about as smoothly. But before we hit Eastbound I-94, we stopped off at Marquette Liquors. Richie and Paulie asked us what we were up to and Greff said something like "If we have to tell, we'll probably have to kill you" which cracked Richie up. He was the only one that had a sense of humor anyway. After the purchase of a case of ale, off we went.

Now, for all you youngsters out there, I, in no way condone drinking and driving either by the driver OR the passengers. Most people do them in the order mentioned, but for some reason, on this night, we did both simultaneously.

The ride was somewhat uneventful and when we pulled up to the Castle, the excitement welled up in us like, well, like when you've had about five beers in an hour and you're about to pee your pants. All four of us crammed into the bathroom which only had two places to "take a comfort break". Two places, that is, to normal human beings. There was, thankfully, a sink. No swords or streams were crossed.

We stumbled out of the bathroom and up to the counter. The woman taking our order reminded us of Blondie. Could it be her bizarro twin? We ordered up a ton of Slyders and sat our butts down. We finished and since we "took orders" prior to leaving Milwaukee, one of us went back up to the counter and ordered a load for the road.

Upon getting back into JY's boat, we realized that we had a ton of empties and we needed to get rid of them. What to do? Well, what's a midnight trip to Chicago's Northside without going to see Wrigley Field? So we head East out of the parking lot until we arrive at 1060 W. Addison. We still have the empties.

JY decides to "round the bases" turning Left on Sheffield. An unnamed occupant of the vehicle cracks open his back door and starts dumping the empties out on the street as we are moving.

Hey, there's Murphy's! clank. Rounding second on Waveland it never dawns on us that the Firehouse is up on the right-hand side. clank. Better get rid of all of them as dropping them onto Clark is going to draw attention.

Ahh, one lap completed, let's take another!!

After three (or so) laps we decide it's best to "head home" and off we go. It's gotta be something like 1:00 and this means we'll be probably getting back around 2:30. Now, most people just KNOW that smell of Slyders. It's really a smell best handled when you're out of your gourd. It's NOT a smell that you want for 90 minutes sitting in the back of a car that's as big as a bus.

Note to self: No more "taking orders" in the future. If they want them, they have to come with.

End of Part I

06 May 2009

Oprah & KFC & DWTS

Okay, need to get back on the blogwagon and start writing again. (and sorry Romy, I know you love Oprah, but seriously...this begs to be beaten up)

So as I was watching the Twitter trends yesterday, KFC kept popping up to the top. I thought for sure that they had some tainted food or, god-forbid some study was going to say KFC was really bad for you (which would suck since I'm a life-long Original Recipe boy) only to be reversed by some OTHER study tomorrow which says that there's benefits in eating the blend of eleven secret herbs and spices.

Nope, all is see are middle-aged women tweeting that "Oprah is giving us free chicken" and getting THO's. Seriously people, Oprah ain't giving you squat. KFC had a promotion and they paid enough for Oprah to mention it on her show. If Oprah was giving you anything, I guarantee you that the Sista would be only giving you the Original Recipe yardbird, not some "grilled chicken" AND it would truly need to come straight from her pocketbook.

Just like she "gave" those people a few years ago the Pontiac G6, she didn't write a big check and drop it off at her local dealer.

This begs a further question though. Where are these "grills" that KFC is installing at all their restaurants and would ANYONE really trust the crews working at KFC's that they'd even grill the chicken to the proper temperature?

I haven't been to a KFC for sometime but this almost BEGS me to go through drive-through and when they ask me if I'd "like to try our new KFC Grilled Chicken today?" just yell out "are you f'ing serious" and then just drive straight through.

PS: OMG, Lil' Kim got kicked off last night, I'm so upset. Okay, just kidding but since ABC loves screwing up DVR schedulers and things, caught the last 3 minutes of Dancing with the Stars.