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“...all that and more, on WGN...Chicago's finest in sports. And as we go to the bottom of the sixth, it's your Cubs 5, the Cardinals 3. Here with us is a man who needs no introduction. It's always a joy to see you at Wrigley Field, Henry Rowengartner!”

“Thanks, Ernie, it's a pleasure to be here!”

“We love to watch you throw out the ceremonial first pitch...”

“Yeah? For a thirty-something dad I think I do pretty well.”

“Oh, don't be modest.”

“Most of us make fools of ourselves from that distance. I'm just glad they don't want me to throw one back from the bleachers...well, with the way our pitching's been this year, hopefully we can cut down on those home runs, eh?”

“Absolutely! As Castro will foul this one away.”

“Look at Cobarrubias getting a quality start today, Inada with the shutout last week, you have to believe there's a great future in the works.”

“I'd say the wunderkinds get younger every year, but, you know. Starlin takes one high to even the count. Henry, can you tell us—you still remember where you were, when we won it all?”

“There's not a person in this city who doesn't, Ernie, but—yes, I was still travelling with the team at that point. Chet—I mean, Steadman and I, our arms had both given out by then, so Martinella was a little short-staffed through the World Series.”

“How'd he deal with it? Oh, and Castro will poke this into center for a base hit.”

“Well, a lot of the statistical analysis hadn't come as far at that point—what we know today about managing pitch counts—so it was kind of touch and go, to make sure nobody else burnt out. A lot of that wound up...delegated to Phil Brickma.”

“Yes, the pitching coach whose...er, innovative methods would go onto...revitalize...the Miami system?”

“Absolutely, we knew him when. Well, Brickma always knew when to take someone out of the game, although most of the time we think he was divining truth from spitting out sunflower seeds and watching the position they took on the dugout floor.”

“You—he—er...Barney fouls one back to the screen...”

“We had to keep him in the dugout by the World Series, it wasn't really safe letting him on his own in the bullpen. Steadman handled the younger guys pretty well, actually.”

“The younger guys?”

“Than him, I mean. He'd never been one for giving much advice, before—but once he wasn't really playing anymore, he was able to help the rest of the team.”

“And I think you get a little credit for bringing some of that about! Popped back to the mound, Wainwright will settle under it and make the catch.”

“Oh, not me! I was just happy to be a part of it.”

“Did you give anyone advice?”

“I'd learned a lot of tricks, you know—Little League stuff—but a lot of them felt like the World Series wasn't really the time and place for trying new things. Can't blame them, really.”

“Valbuena steps in. Wainwright checks the runner, Castro with a little lead off of first...All right, Henry, may I ask you another question, maybe one you don't get so often?”

“I'm all ears!”

“Where were you when we won it all—the next time?”

“Oh! What a team that was! With Sosa and Suarez, Wood and Bachman on the mound! When we clinched at Wrigley, yes—well, I was in college.”

“Yeah?”

“At the student union with a bunch of my friends—Kevin had been doing the fall rush, Miranda was coming off an all-nighter, of course the place was mobbed. But we were all thrilled.”

“People recognize you—ask you to buy them a...whatever college students are drinking these days?”

These days? Come on, Ernie, I'm not that young.”

“Swung on and missed by Valbuena, oh and one...sorry, you were saying?”

“By then they'd gotten used to me. Was I razzed a little early on, asked to bring out the kegs...sure. The students were pretty good about it, you know. They try to bring in people from all over—'oh look, we have people from this many different states, these foreign countries, they play all these instruments and have so many academic prizes—this guy won the World Series in junior high'—and so on, and so on. So I fit in pretty well.”

“This one will be taken for a strike, oh and two.”

“The professors were a little more awed, honestly—some of the lifelong Cubs fans, hadn't seen a championship in almost fifty years. There was this one guy in the English department who always went on these tangents about narrative mythos and heroes being...something or other, I dunno, it was a little weird. They didn't go easy on me, though—I got a C on my first essay, so, that was kind of a wake-up call that we both had to take the class seriously. I wound up passing...in the end.”

“This'll be grounded to second, for the forceout...they won't try to turn it, Valbuena's safe at first with two away. Did you play any sports in college?”

“Well, after high school—I was an outfielder, you know, the rest of the way, but I knew I wasn't meant for the NCAA. I tried out for cross-country a couple times, as a walk-on...didn't make the cut though. Of course everyone wanted me in intramurals though, we cleaned up at that.”

“The Cubs lead the first game of this three-game series, 5-3 in the seventh, as Lake steps in...and Henry Rowengartner still here with us! Henry, I'm curious, we talk about it sometimes during the interleague games—should the National League adopt the DH?”

“Absolutely not!”

“Really? Strong opinions there, you an old-school type?”

“It's fun to get the chance to hit! For me it always was, ask any pitcher and I bet they'll tell you the same thing! Have to mix things up every once in a while.”

“There's a risk of injury...”

“Yeah, that's what Martinella always said. But you have to do things for fun, right? Besides, I technically got injured to start my—major league career, such as it was.”

“All the same, you don't seem to be recommending it? Lake checks his swing, ball inside.”

“Oh, no, hardly!”

“If you could give one piece of advice to Little Leaguers, kids hoping to live the dream—what would it be?”

“Advice to kids? Maybe it's just me, but I think kids have a lot figured out for themselves, it's the adults I need to keep an eye on.”

“Oh?”

“Too many coaches at ridiculously young levels are competitive in the wrong way—going berserk on the umpire, setting bad examples for the kids they're supposed to be mentoring, and going too far to win a game. I know some of these stats guys liked to give Brickma a hard time, but even at his wildest, he never disrespected anyone, and in that sense, I think he set a great example. When my kids are old enough—if they choose to play sports, of course—I'd love to become a commissioner for their leagues, just to help make sure all the teams have great coaches.”

“That's inspiring! Lake lines one into left, Valbuena will hold at second. Two on, and Wainwright's pitch count getting up there...looks like they'll leave him in to face Castillo. And remind us, Henry, what it is you do during the rest of the week?”

“Hah, of course! If you'll permit a bit of an advertisement—”

“Oh, because none of our updates are brought to our listeners by loyal Chicago businesses...”

“Touche. Well, I'm very happy to be part of Pierways riverboat cruises. Mostly I just oversee things at my desk, but every once in a while I get to join our sightseers on board.”

“Well, I'm sure they'd love seeing the sights with a great Chicago icon!”

“Ernie, you flatterer. Come on out sometime and decide for yourself.”

“There's your advertisement. Castillo swings and misses. But really, now, imagine if we'd continued losing like we'd been, in '92—it was a really dismal season, before you came along, we couldn't put wins together...”

“Well, the Carsons would have sold off the team—new owners could have shaken things up, which might have helped, right?”

“Well, it wouldn't be the same.”

“That's what you baseball people always say!”

“'You baseball people'? You're one of us, always will be. Henry Rowengartner from the '92 champions!”

“I'm mostly just glad you're pronouncing my name right, but thanks.”

“You're welcome. And Castillo will foul this one away—but did I hear you say your children might follow in the family tradition? Could we have another prodigious Rowengartner down the line?”

“Well, Bradley doesn't seem very interested in sports yet, believe it or not—which is fine with me, he's his own person, and whoever he grows into, I know I'll be proud of him.”

“Aww, well, that's all anyone can ask for. Castillo strikes out swinging, and Wainwright gets out of the inning.”

“My daughter Addison, however, is the one to watch out for. I told her we can play catch all she likes, if she wants to learn to bring the heat—but so she doesn't overwork her arm too early, she has to wait until high school before Grandpa Chet teaches her how to throw a curveball.”

“That's the spirit! Henry Rowengartner, thank you so much for coming back to visit us!”

“Every year, as long as you keep having me!”

“We'd love to talk some more, but the other booth wants to say hello too, I'm sure. But we look forward to hearing you sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the stretch!”

“Always a pleasure, Ernie.”

“This never gets old.”