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.

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