I walked to this event. Since I was a bit late, I decided to go down the side streets making the walk a little more direct rather than walking past the bank and stopping there like I originally planned. On one of the blocks I walked down, most of the houses were flying the flag. I wondered if it was for Father's Day on Sunday.
I passed the town's library and the lower entrance to it. The lower level is the children's section of the public library, and the sign above that door I thought was cute; "Welcome to Dewey Decimal Field!" That made it sound almost like a ballpark for the kids I thought.
As I turned a corner onto a sunny street, I went from comfortable in my light jacket to hot. I wondered if I should have taken my jacket at all on that street, but realized it was one of those days where in the shade I would need my jacket and in the sun I wouldn't.
Moving this along, I finally get to the store where the signing would be. There is a guy on a cell phone standing on the corner away from the crowd and as I pass him I overhear "Hello, Fergie, where are you?" I walk on toward the crowd, and go to the end of the line which already had a good 30 to 40 people in line. I looked at my watch. I was 45 minutes early.
So there I stood. Maybe 15 minutes later one of the people behind mentioned needing a ticket to someone else. I asked him about it and found out I needed to go into the store to get my ticket and whatever I wanted signed if I hadn't bought something with me. So I go in there buy a baseball and a ticket to have it signed, then go back outside and walk down the line heading toward the back of the line. However, the guy who told me to go get a ticket was nice enough to let me get back in front of him again rather than at the end of the line behind the 20 or so more people that showed up since I was in the store.
So here we are waiting. All that there was to do was people watch. Most of the people in line (myself included) were wearing Cubs clothes of some kind. As I was watching here comes a very self-conscious looking man dressed in black wearing a black White Sox cap. Now the line stretched in front of the liqueur store next to the sports store where Fergie would be. I noticed this White Sox fan looked very uncomfortable crossing a line of Cubs fans to get into and out of the liqueur store, and quickly disappeared after he bought whatever he did in the liqueur store.
The person directly ahead of me in line was a grandfather with two young grandsons waiting to get autographs. He told me that back in 1969 he coached a little league team and meet most of the '69 Cubs. I encouraged him to tell the story with a simple "1969? That was *The* Cubs team." (Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, ... The 69 Cubs were a team full of baseball legends).
So, anyway, we wait. Ten minutes after the event was to start someone addresses the crowd saying that Fergie Jenkins would be 20 minutes late. Sure enough after another ten minutes a bright red car pulls into the reserved spot in front of the sports store and out of the back of that car steps Fergie Jenkins.
The crowd gives him a cheer and he raises both hands and gives the crowd a brief greeting. From where I was I heard him speak, but couldn't make out what he said. He was then escorted into the store. I look behind me to see how many people there were. From my vantage point in the crowd itself I couldn't see the end of the line, so I have no idea how many people there were.
Another announcement is yelled out by someone. The local paper is interviewing him. It will be at least 10 more minutes before he starts signing.
Ten minutes later, a half hour after the signing was to start, the line starts moving. The two kids ahead of me talk of the different types of grips needed for different types of pitches. Then the older one talks about the wind up, and shows how Satchel Page used to wind up. As I'm watching this little kid imitating Satchel Page, I'm thinking if this kid, 9 years old at the oldest, knows about Satchel Page then baseball's future is in no danger at all.
The grandfather in front of me comments about how orderly the crowd is despite the fact that there are no police around for crowd control. I agree with him. When I get to the store's entrance I'm stopped by the one person there doing crowd control who tells me to wait until a few people leave the store before I can go into the store. I get my first real surprise of the day. The one person doing crowd control is my town's mayor! None of our police are at this event, but here is the mayor working at the door.
Well, there is a yell from inside saying to let more in, and the mayor waves me in. Inside I'm directed to the far aisle of the store where the line continues. Naturally they had Cubs merchandise stacked on the counter we were forced to pass.
Nearing the table where Fergie is signing, a man trades my ticket for a certificate of authenticity. The person ahead of me comments about how good Fergie looks. Fergie replies, "I'm still around and kickin' " to that person as he hands back what he just signed and reaches for the baseball I was handing him.
"That's the important thing; that you're still kickin'." I said with a smile as he is signing my baseball.
"That's right." He replied handing me the signed ball, along with a look that seemed to say he thought it was an odd comment I made.
I buy a UV protective case for baseballs before I leave the store. When I leave, the mayor makes a pitch for Pierogi Fest coming up at the end of July. I get a chuckle out of him using this event to promote my town's biggest annual event to everyone leaving.
Walking home I examine the certificate of authenticity. It is signed by the owner of the sports store. The last name is the same as the mayor's last name. So that explains why the mayor was working at the door. I'd bet it's his wife that owns the store.
I have the ball in that protective display case. Now I just need to get something to display the certificate of authenticity in that will protect it as well.