Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exciting Celebrity Encounters: Lynn McGlothen

All serious sports fans have probably had occasion to interact with some of the athletes they've followed, either on purpose or by chance. Sometimes these encounters reinforce an impression you've already formed, and sometimes they leave you surprised, disillusioned, or even disturbed. I'm going to describe some encounters I've had over the years, and my responses, in this space from time to time.


Lynn McGlothen, 1980

     Equipped with a little Instamatic camera, my brothers and I attended Cubs Photo Day at Wrigley Field in the summer of 1980. The Cubs were spread out along the foul lines and around the outfield at intervals of 15 or 20 feet, while we proceeded counterclockwise around this oblong circle, snapping pictures from behind a yellow nylon rope that separated the big leaguers from the common people.
     Most of the players made no attempt to conceal their boredom and irritation at having to stand around on display for the people who paid their salaries. (Maybe I’d have been surly too if I were playing for a club that was on its way to 98 losses.) Some, such as outfielder Jerry Martin and pitcher Doug Capilla, were openly hostile. Others, including first baseman Larry Biittner and pitcher Mike Krukow, were reasonably friendly. One, pitcher Lynn McGlothen, not only cheerfully posed for a picture, but also extended his hand, looked me right in the eye, and chatted with me as if I were his equal.
     A year later, McGlothen was traded to the White Sox. "Sure [the Cubs] can replace his innings and maybe his wins," Dave van Dyck wrote in the Sun-Times, "but how will they replace his leadership and competitive fire?"
     Since Rick Reuschel had also been traded by then, the question went unanswered.

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