Secret Stadium Sauce, anyone?

Today’s the first day of the baseball season, and my once-beloved Milwaukee Brewers are playing inside against the Los Angeles Dodgers. All the tailgating will be taking place outside, as it should.

My passion for the Brewers was strong until 1984, when — just two years after reaching the World Series — they had the first in a long string of dreadful teams. That summer, because I worked nights at the paper, I got into watching the Chicago Cubs’ afternoon games on WGN.

That passion faded a little more in 1986, when I finally realized my childhood dream of going to Opening Day for the Brewers. Be careful what you wish for. You might get it. I sat outside on April 14 — in the rain and the cold — as the Texas Rangers beat the Brewers 10-1.

The flame went out in 1993, when the Brewers let Paul Molitor escape to the Toronto Blue Jays. I didn’t go to a game for years. My small protest.

Only in recent years, as our son has discovered baseball, have I rekindled that flame for the Brewers. Still, it doesn’t burn as intensely or as brightly as it once did. Sure, they have Secret Stadium Sauce to put on the brats at Miller Park, as they did at Milwaukee County Stadium, but it just isn’t the same. Yeah, County Stadium was a dump, but it was our dump.

secretstadiumsauce.jpg

And what, you ask, is Secret Stadium Sauce? Not quite ketchup, not quite barbecue sauce, not quite steak sauce, but red and tasty on just about anything, especially brats and hot dogs. Once available only at County Stadium, but now you also can get it here.

However, since 1984, the Cubs have provided the better memories.

The first game I ever saw at Wrigley Field — June 23, 1984 — was the famous Game of the Week in which the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 12-11 in 11 innings. Ryne Sandberg homered in the ninth to tie it at 9, then again in the 10th to tie it at 11. We’ve been back several times since, but you can’t top that.

The Cubs have better music, too.

Folk singer Steve Goodman was a Chicago native and one of the Cubs’ biggest fans. He didn’t live long enough to see the end of the Cubs’ magical run in 1984. He died of leukemia in September of that year, just a few days before the Cubs’ first playoff game since 1945.

Yet he left us the best baseball song ever.

stevegoodmanaffordableartcd.jpg

“The Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,” Steve Goodman, from “Affordable Art,” 1980.

Watch him perform it here, and then watch an interview about it here.

I can’t hear the next song and not think about the 1984 Cubs. WGN used it as theme music for their Cubs broadcasts.

vanhalen1984cd.jpg

“Jump,” Van Halen, from “1984,” 1984.

Harry Caray never knew quite what to make of “Jump.” There was no middle ground with Harry. Some days, you couldn’t stand him. Some days, he was quite entertaining.

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember Marla Collins, the Cubs’ attractive ball girl from 1982 to 1986 (when she was fired in late July for posing for Playboy). She usually wore shorts, as you see below in this photo by Kasey Ignarski. One particular day in 1983, she wore something other than shorts. It didn’t quite come out the way Harry intended.

marlacollins.jpg

Marla Collins blooper, Harry Caray, 1983, widely available on the Web, but here you go.

harrycaraywgncd.jpg

Thanks to the fine folks at A Beef Sandwich w/Sweet and Hot Peppers for posting this last month. That reminded me I had it on a tribute CD put out by WGN radio after Harry died.

For the record, near as I can tell, Marla Collins turns 49 this year.

8 Comments

Filed under April 2007, Sounds

8 responses to “Secret Stadium Sauce, anyone?

  1. jb

    Great post. Opening Day used to be a religious experience for me, until I fell away from baseball in the early 90s. The only OD I have ever attended in person was at Miller Park in 2001, on THE opening night for the park. George W. Bush threw out the first pitch. “I’ve never seen a president before,” I said, and with memories of the Florida recount still fresh, I added, “and I still haven’t.”

  2. Pingback: Another Opening, Another Show « The Hits Just Keep On Comin’

  3. Good to see your post delving into “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman. He often doesn’t get his due. Thought you might be interested in an eight-year project of mine that is coming to fruition — a biography of Goodman that will be published in May. The book is filled with details about the background of “Dying Cub Fan,” including Steve’s own imitation of Harry Caray. Please e-mail me at ceals@comcast.net if you would like me to e-mail you a background sheet on the book. Or check my Internet site below for more info (including the book’s Chicago launch May 18-20) and how to pre-order, if you like. Just trying to spread the word!

    Clay Eals
    1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
    Seattle, WA 98116-1958

    (206) 935-7515
    ceals@comcast.net
    http://www.clayeals.com

  4. Thanks for the props with the “First Time We See Marla Collins without shorts on” Maybe the above Biographer can confirm or deny that Steve Goodman’s ashes are buried under homeplate at Wrigley.

    I make every opening day, being blessed with a family that has had season tickets since I was two years old. It’s a great tradition to attend, while in high school it was the only time my mother would call school and say I had a bit of the flu and wouldn’t be at school that day. I still get Blue Flu every April, rain, shine or snow, I’m a Cub Fan and and a Bud Man I hope you’re one too.

  5. Thanks for the plug. I am always glad when people appreciate what I have put on the web. One thing though…My name is spelled Kasey (with a K).

    Kasey Ignarski

  6. evandad

    Fixed. Sorry about that, Kasey.

  7. Pingback: Songs for a Friday night « AM, Then FM

  8. Pingback: Late to our own party « AM, Then FM

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