Chicago Celebrities We’d Rather See At Games

From afar, I’ve admired what the Chicago Cubs are doing. Not just at the plate and from the mound, but also from a promotional standpoint. Rather than trot out any famous person who can afford a ticket with what they find between their couch cushions, the Cubs had players who appreciate where the team is now and put in blood, sweat and tears wearing the blue pinstripes to throw out first pitches in Games 3 and 4.

After Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and 2-time All-Star Kerry Wood kicked off each game, the Cubs utilized their new video boards at Wrigley Field with videos of the late Ernie Banks and Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” That’s classy. That’s also what they should do from now on, but that’s a discussion for another day. (Never let Ryan Dempster do his impression of Will Ferrell’s impression of Harry Caray again)

Amidst the bat-flipping, opposing pitcher name chanting, and hardcore partying, we’ve seen the celebrity faces that we expected (some dreaded) to see at the ballpark. Billy Corgan and his new get-off-my-lawn attitude. Northside/Southside flipping John Cusack. And the worst front-runner on the planet, Jim Belushi (I cringe typing his name like he’s Voldemort). New assistant to Cubs President Theo Epstein (probably) Eddie Vedder has been fun. As an avid Pearl Jam fan, I get a kick out of him partying as hard as the players after each game.

It’s also hard to imagine that Bill Murray isn’t too far away, despite his media tour next week for the upcoming release of Rock the Kasbah. If anything, he could make it an epic cross promotion for his film and the MLB playoffs.

Bill Murray Harry

Vedder and Murray are awesome but it’s time to bring out the big hitters to the seats in Chicago, and not just at Wrigley Field. Last summer, I countered recently-outed heavyweight racist Hulk Hogan’s baiting for angry Blackhawks fans during the Stanley Cup with my own list of better celebrity hockey fans. Those mentioned in that list (CM Punk, Mr. T, Vince Vaughn, etc) get a hat-tip, but the following names will represent star power that we’d rather see regularly, similar to the likes at New York and Los Angeles events.

1. Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford Chicago

We’re talking about Han Solo AND Indiana Jones here. How can you deny the idea of either baseball stadium in Chicago playing the “Imperial Death March” music announcing the Yankees lineup, then following it with a shot of Harrison Ford behind home plate with the Rebel Victory score over it? Maybe it’s a the geek in me, but any opportunity to implement Star Wars, especially with the new film coming out, is super sexy to me.

Note: I also refer to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu as #Baseball Jedi, so there’s that. 

Ford has Chicago in his blood, being born here and spending his college summers working on a boat in Burnham Park Harbor or managing the first Crate and Barrel on Wells. In an Michigan Ave Magazine interview, Ford said:

I’ve been out in Los Angeles for 35 years, and I think there are some things about my upbringing that reflect the values and the attitudes of the Midwest…. a kind of work ethic that I find particular to the Midwest. I can say that those were important, formative years for me, living in Chicago.”

Cool, Indy. I’ll buy you a beer next time you’re in town, if it gets you to a ballgame.

2. Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman Cubs

Currently featured in the new season of Fargo, Nick Offerman isn’t slowing down since the end of Ron Swanson and Parks and Recreation. Offerman isn’t shy about his baseball allegiance either.

There are many grown men and women who would scream like a 90’s tween at a Backstreet Boys concert if they saw the Joliet native, University of Illinois grad, and professional canoe craftsman down the foul line at a ballgame.

If he’s willing, during a the Crosstown Cup series, there’s plenty of bacon-on-a-stick awaiting his consumption at US Cellular Field.

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Double-thick maple bacon. You know you want it, Nick…

3. Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson Chicago

Yep, X-Files fans, Scully is from Chicago. With The X-Files revival series coming soon to FOX, they’d be making a huge mistake not having Gillian Anderson at Wrigley Field fending off the paranormal and extraterrestrial that I’m sure some Cubs fans still believe will prevent the Cubs from going to the World Series…At least come out to a Men and/or Women’s basketball game at DePaul, where Anderson finished college…something she and I have in common.

4. President Barack Obama

President Obama Chicago

Partisan opinions aside, he’s the MF’n President of the United States. He’s also a hardcore sports fan, which I thoroughly laid out on his birthday, and loves his Chicago teams…

When his term is up, I would welcome the president taking in as much Bulls basketball, White Sox baseball, Bears football, and whatever as he wants.

5. John C. Reilly

John C. Reilly Chicago

Would you really argue with me on this? Who doesn’t want south side native John C. Reilly in their corner?

That’s exactly who you want in games against New York when Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Jay-Z and Beyonce are behind the opponent’s bench.

6. Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert Chicago

For someone who has spent a lot of his career recently in New York City, Stephen Colbert has not been bashful at all about his time in Chicago. Leading up to the new Late Show’s premiere, Colbert dedicated multiple podcasts to his years at Northwestern and doing improv in Chicago. While interviewing Jane The Virgin star Gina Rodriguez this week, the two bonded over their love for the city and living there. Most notably, as tongue-in-cheek as it sounded, Colbert predicted a Cubs World Series win…a proclamation he believes “in no way will come back to haunt” him.

If the NLCS goes to New York, I would be shocked if Colbert wasn’t in attendance. Heck, he should catch a weekend game in Chicago if the opportunity is there.

More Chicago Celebrities You’d Rather See:

John Landis, Director – Animal House, Blues Brothers

Robert Zemeckis, Director – Back to the Future Trilogy

Patricia Arquette, Actress – Boyhood, True Romance

Common, Hip-Hop Artist & Actor – Selma

Fred Savage, Actor & Director – The Wonder Years

Ben Savage, Actor – Boy Meets World

Chloe Bennet, Actress – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Mandy Patinkin, Actor – The Princess Bride, Homeland

Gina Rodriguez, Actress – Jane The Virgin

Michael Pena, Actor – Ant-Man, The Martian

Frances McDormand, Actress – Fargo, Almost Famous

Shonda Rhimes, Writer – Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy

Michael Madsen, Actor – Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill

Jennifer Morrison, Actress – House M.D.

Michael Mann, Director – Heat

Tom Berenger, Actor – Major League

Dan Castellanata, Actor – The Simpsons

Bruce Dern, Actor – Nebraska, The Cowboys

Andre Braugher, Actor – Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Wood Harris, Actor – The Wire, Remember the Titans

Bob Balaban, Actor – Moonrise Kingdom

Jennifer Hudson, Singer & Actress – Dreamgirls

Chi McBride, Actor – Boston Public, The Terminal

Craig Robinson, Actor – The Office, Knocked Up

Jay Chandrasekhar, Actor & Director – Super Troopers

Jim O’Heir, Actor – Parks and Recreation

Did I miss anyone? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

When Sports and Music Collide

Monday morning, the Chicago Cubs announced the “secret” headliner for the fourth annual Hot Stove Cool Music charity concert, July 9th at the Metro. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder will be performing alongside Cubs President Theo Epstein, Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper, Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, 670 The Score sports talk radio host Matt Spiegel, members of Wilco, Cheap Trick, Umphrey’s McGee, Tributosaurus, and more. The concert benefits Cubs Charities and Foundation To Be Named Later, which helps aid disadvantaged youth and adults.

Vedder has a long history with his beloved Cubs, having grown up just north of the city in Evanston, IL. Fans recall multiple renditions of the 7th inning stretch, but he also recorded his own anthem for the Cubs. Pearl Jam and Cubs fans alike were treated to a “double header” in 2013 as the band played before and after a storm at Wrigley Field. The late Ernie Banks even came out to yell, “Let’s Play Two!”

Eddie and Ernie All the way

We all have our interests and it’s always cool when we see those interests overlap. The fan in me always seems to geek out especially when music and sports come together. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Niklas Hjalmarsson and the Chicago Blackhawks crash a Mumford and Sons concert at Montrose Beach. I made involuntary noises as Hjalmarrson commanded the band to drink beer from the Stanley Cup…then mention he should’ve told them where the Cup had been beforehand.

Just the other day, JJ Watt played concert security for the Zac Brown Band and squared up on an “intruder”.

(Might’ve been staged)

Following Hall of Fame basketball player and entertaining broadcaster Bill Walton on the Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well” Tour has been a treat beyond words.

Bill Walton Dead

Part of the allure is seeing our favorite musicians or athletes come back to Earth in a way that we can relate. They are the best at what they do but can be so humbled and excited to be around someone of another profession. They’re fans like we are.

The other part is seeing someone offer you another dynamic that you weren’t aware of. When you hear about a professional athlete releasing an album, you’re interested to hear how it sounds (except for Shaq). When you see an artist or musician signed up to play in a celebrity All-Star game, you want to tune in and see how they fair.

Here are are some examples of worlds colliding in music and sports.

Athletes in Music

Bernie Williams 

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5-time Yankees All-Star centerfielder, 1998 AL batting title winner, and 4-time World Series champion Bernie Williams is also a Latin Grammy nominated guitarist. Williams recorded 2,336 hits and a .297 batting average in his baseball career, and 2 jazz albums in 2003 and 2009.

Williams also recorded a single with former NBA forward Wayman Tisdale.

Chris Kluwe

Kluwe

Former Vikings punter, gamer and excellent Twitter follow Chris Kluwe also started a band called Tripping Icarus. They have an EP and full length LP to their credit, all spawned from Kluwe’s love for “Guitar Hero”.

Jack McDowell

Jack McDowell music

Former White Sox pitcher and 1993 CY Young winner, Jack “Blackjack” McDowell had a 12 year long baseball career, and a music career that has lasted for much longer. The alternative rocker recorded 6 albums with bands V.I.E.W. and stickfigure, and is still playing in clubs today.

The 1985 Chicago Bears

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The ’85 Chicago Bears went 15-1, won a Super Bowl, had 4 players go to the Hall of Fame, and became the first sports team to be nominated for a Grammy. “The Super Bowl Shuffle” was organized by wide receiver Willie Gault, and performed by 24 members of the roster. This year will be the 30th anniversary of its release, a single that went to #41 on the Billboard charts and went Gold for selling half a million copies.

Sorry you had to hear Steve Fuller attempt rapping again.

Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson and Ben Crane – Golf Boys

Golf Boys

Losing the collared t-shirts and khakis, these golfers decided to have some fun for charity. Producing 2 viral music videos, $1,000 is donated by State Farm per 100,000 views to charity.

It’s no “Super Bowl Shuffle”, but they still deserve a “good job, good effort.”

Musicians in Sports

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper chipping

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper is best known for heavy metal and live shows that feature guillotines, boa constrictors, electric chairs and fake blood. He also has a golf handicap of 5.3 and titled his memoirs “Alice Cooper: Golf Monster – A Rock ’n’ Roller’s 12 Steps To Becoming a Golf Addict.”

WE’RE NOT WORTHY!

We're not worthy

Bruce Dickinson

Bruce Dickinson

Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson is one of the world’s most interesting individuals. He is a military veteran, a licensed commercial pilot, melter of rock and roll faces…and a WORLD CLASS FENCER! At one point he ranked 7th in all the UK. Dickinson also sponsors youth soccer teams.

Garth Brooks

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Country superstar Garth Brook has sold over 70 million records in his career, but his dream was to be a Major League baseball player. Brooks made that dream come true when the San Diego Padres signed him to play in Spring training in 1998. He also had Spring training stints with the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals, ending his baseball “career” with a hit off pitcher Mike Myers in 2004.

Justin Timberlake

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Justin Timberlake is one of the best entertainers of our era. Singer, dancer, actor…and a 6 handicap golfer. Timberlake once said he would be a pro golfer by the age of 30. That has yet to happen, but he is minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies…so there’s that.

MTV Rock N’ Jock

Rock n Jock

Back when MTV was actually “Music Television” and played music videos, there was also a series where musicians, athletes and movie stars would come together to compete in basketball, football and bowling. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D, Brett Michaels and Queen Latifah would play alongside Chris Webber, Gary Payton, Rick Mahorn, George Clooney, and yes…Leonardo DiCaprio (That’s him on the bottom left). It was truly incredible television.

Do any other Sports and Music crossovers come to mind? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.