Go bat kids! Moline teen wins Chicago Cubs contest

Posted Online: Sept. 06, 2013, 10:32 am
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By Gabi Lenger, southof20@qconline.com
When I found out I was going to be a bat kid at a Cubs game, I honestly thought my dad was more excited than I was.

Trust me, I was jumping for joy, but my father looked like a kid at Christmas.

He entered me in the Chicago Cubs Bat Kid of the Daycontest, which was presented by Walgreens, and I won. Dad is a big Cubs fan, and the prize included four free game tickets, a Cubs shirt, hat, a baseball for autographs and a seat in the dugout during batting practice.

The Sept. 1 game came, andmy family and I drove three hours to Wrigley Field. We were greeted by Nicolas Siman, who had been an ambassador at Wrigley for two years. He handed me a Cubs t-shirt, hat, baseball and a pen, and explained that I had the best seat in the house to watch batting practice: The Cubs' dugout.

I also could try to get the players to autograph my baseball. It didn't sound too hard, I thought. As my family and I were led into the ballpark, it was huge and very intimidating. But the sun was shining and it was a perfect day for a game!

When I walked down the steps into the dugout, my family waited in the stands behind home plate. The players weren't out just yet, and I was greeted by another ambassador named Katie.She was super friendly, and she introduced me to the other Bat Kid for the day, Declan, who was 8 years old.

I sat down next to Declan, and he didn't try very hard to hide his disappointment. "I was hoping you would be a boy," he said. I couldn't stop laughing.

"Sorry, you're stuck with me!" I told him.

The dugout was damp and dreary, but it had the perfect view of the field.We waited a while for batting practice to start. Meanwhile, Declan told me just about everything he knew about baseball, from his oldest baseball card to the player's positions. It was helpful for me.

Katie gave us some gum that came from the batch that the players get to chew during games. Katie said the players usually spit the gum on the floor of the dugout when they were done with it, but as a clean-up guy walked by, she told us that we probably shouldn't do the same.

Soon, Cubs' manager Dale Sveum entered the dugout and was interviewed a few feet from us. There were about 10 reporters shoving recorders and cameras in his face. It actually was kind of awesome seeing how it all worked.

Finally, one by one the players came out of the locker room and through the dugout. At first, it was difficult to get autographs because the players didn't seem to notice us. Soon, though, Declan became a pro at getting them to stop and sign his baseball. I, on the other hand, would just smile and hold out my baseball, hoping someone would read my mind and sign it.

I asked Katie if any of the players would be up for photos. She told me that relief pitcher James Russell was pretty nice, and that he probably would. Later, Russell came through the dugout and I asked him if we could get a picture together. He said yes and I was psyched! The players were very busy, but a few stopped to talk to us.

Pitcher Edwin Jackson was extremely funny! Declan told Jackson that he saw one of the players yell at him. Jackson told him not to worry and that he'd slap the player later. Katie, of course, explained that he was just kidding.

Eighteen autographs and one batting practice later, we walked out onto Wrigley Field and took a photo. I felt so small in the enormous stadium! I headed back to my family in the stands and told them all about the dugout experience.

While we were talking, my father spotted Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady in the "Brady Bunch." He shook Williams' hand and said, "Go get 'em Barry!" I was confused until my father told me Barry was singing the National Anthem.

We went to our seats, and Barry started singing, "America the Beautiful" and the National Anthem. He had a unique voice and everyone cheered.

It was such a perfect day for a baseball game. It didn't hurt that the Cubs also beat the Phillies 7-1.
Gabrielle "Gabi" Lenger, of Moline, is a 15-year-old sophomore at Moline High School.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)