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Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2001

Former Bear tossed at Wrigley

Umpire not amused by comments during seventh-inning stretch

August 9, 2001

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— More than 300 "guest conductors" have led the crowd at Wrigley Field in singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.

When former Chicago Bears tackle Steve McMichael got his chance, he did what the likes of Bill Murray, George Foreman or a purple dinosaur named Barney had never done. An umpire had him removed from the stadium.

On Tuesday night, McMichael, who is now involved in professional wrestling and whose nicknames include "Mongo" and "Ming the Merciless," made an editorial comment about a call by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez that ended the previous inning.

"And don't worry, I'll have some speaks with that home plate umpire after the game," McMichael said just before breaking into the song that became a longtime Wrigley Field tradition under late WGN broadcaster Harry Caray.

The statement was met with a roar of approval from the crowd, but Hernandez appeared angry at the comment and signaled for McMichael's ejection. According to Cubs officials, Hernandez asked crew chief Randy Marsh to call the press box and ask that McMichael be removed.

McMichael left without incident, according to John McDonough, the team's vice president of marketing and broadcasting. He said McMichael was planning to leave after he sang anyway.

McDonough said the team wasn't pleased with McMichael's comment and issued an apology. But he said he didn't think McMichael "was trying to incite anything" with his comment.

McMichael, a fan favorite when he played with the Bears from 1981 until 1993, said he was simply joking around.

And while he apologized to the Cubs for any embarrassment he might have caused, he wasn't apologizing to Hernandez. He even suggested the umpire should thank him.

Far from trying to incite anyone, he said he was actually trying to protect the umpire from an angry crowd after a close play at the plate. And, McMichael said, it worked.

"They stopped booing him and started cheering me," he said.

McDonough said that just as they do all guests, team officials went over with McMichael what he planned on saying before singing.

McDonough said McMichael had said he was going to say it was great to be back in Chicago. Then he was going to mention Caray.

"What he said about the umpire was kind of a wildcard statement," that the team didn't know about, McDonough said.

Team officials did not say anything about making comments about what happens during the game, including close plays at home plate, but they will from now on.

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