This is such a special week-end for #23, I thought weíd offer an expanded excerpt from Carrie Muskatís compilation
Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Look for parts 2 and 3 tomorrow and Sunday and the rest of the series featuring Cub players through the years every Friday.
Nineteen-eighty-four was one of my most fun years. I was still a young player at the time. It was my third year in the major leagues and my first experience being in a pennant race and being on a winning club. That was all new to me. I just showed up at the ballpark every day, just having fun. I noticed the effect the club was having on the city of Chicago and the fans. I thought it was great. People were going crazy. It was a full house at Wrigley Field every day. It wasnít that way in í82 or í83. In í84 the fans liked the players that we had, and it worked both ways. It was just a great summer all the way around.
Right in the middle of í84, on June 23rd, we were playing the Cardinals. It was the back-up game for the NBC-TV ìGame of the Week.î The main game was rained out, so the whole country saw this game. Tony Kubek and Bob Costas were the announcers. They mention it to me every now and then when I see them that that game did a lot for them too, as announcers.
The game was just going on like any other game, a lot of hits going on. We fell behind early. Willie McGee hit for the cycle and he kind of stood out early. I just remember Bruce Sutter coming in, and Larry Bowa told me to just look down and in against this guy, thatís where his ball ends up, down and in.
Sutter was one of the best relievers at the time. He came in to get three outs and the game would be over, and then I end up hitting a home run to tie it. Then I cam up an inning later. Iíve seen a tape of the game. They had the credits going over the screen, and they named Willie McGee the player of the game. Right in the middle of the credits Bob Costas goes ìNuts, heís done it again and hit a home run again.î It was just like a fairy tale game for me. It put us in first place for the first time that year, which we didnít give up the rest of the year.
I remember walking across and doing the Cardinalsí postgame show, and I was answering these questions and in a lot of ways I was totally numb. I did that interview and then I walked back across and got a big cheer. A lot of Cub fans were still there. I thought, man, this was great. Then I went inside and I could barely get to my locker because there were so many people to talk to. That was the start of my first experience with the media.
It was pretty cool.