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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Meeting Famous People- Top 10 List & More

After President Obama was here a couple weeks ago, I wondered who some other people can claim they got to meet. I got answers from the following- Andie Allison, Steve Cheesman, Jessica Howard, Michael Rux, Dan Sullivan, Todd Rudolf, Jay Redfern, Aaron Frey, Libby Derry, Curt Allen, Craig Hillier, Jay Barshinger, Thom Sigel, Amanda Gunther, Jaque Gohlinghorst, Jay Hatch, Emily Cline, and Mark Massey

After their replies, I chose to rank the top ten most impressive “meetings.”  Here is my top ten (actually 12) of famous people they met.

Top Ten List of Meeting Famous People
12- Meeting Michael Jordan twice would be higher but people from Quncy cannot be put in top ten.

11- Tweeting with Jenny McCarthy- I think this is start of how politicians get in trouble.

Tie- 10-Being at Pat Summit's house and getting to pet the dog- impressive. And having Pat Summitt give you advice to be patient.

9- Having Ted Kennedy’s nephew stay overnight at your house- more impressive if actually could remember which one it was.

8- Telling Coach K to put his ring away- rudeness drops this.

7- Kick Brooks & Ronnie Dunn- would be higher but I don’t know who they are.

6- Having lunch with Eddie Matthews & Warren Spahn after the 1962 all-star game- this would move up if the senility of the individual had not prevented him from remembering details.

5- Shaking hands with both Obama and Clinton- conversation with both should have moved it up.

4- Lunch with Jerry Mathers- would move up if he was still 12 years old.

3- Meeting John Wooden, Adolf Rupp, Kareem, Bill Walton, Dr. J- if it had been at one time, it would have been easily #2.  It sounds like one of those dream suppers.

2- Interview with John Grisham- it might have made #1 had he not made the rude comment about my hair.

1- Coaching Cindy Crawford- I don’t think anyone can beat that.

Todd Rudolf
President Obama, but he was the Illinois State Senator back then. 
I've also met, Kevin Garnett, Frank Thomas and Brian Wilson. 
I've also and interviewed Derrick Rose on two seperate occassions.

Coach Barshinger
Evan, you are the most famous person I have ever met.

Got the fuzzy end of the lollypop when I didn't get to meet the President.

I did meet Tony Dungy.  He was the key note speaker at a football clinic.  I came out of the elevator into an empty lobby except for Coach Dungy.  I said Hi and he shook my hand and said I'm glad you're here coach, then he got on the elevator and left.

I also got to meet Ray Nitschke when I was in high school.  I got to wear his superbowl 2 was huge.

I knew Cindy Crawford before she was famous.
(Jay didn’t provide details- one summer when he was in college & she was in hs, he coached her rec softball team.)

Jay Redfern
Probably more than you wanted ...

My career in the newspaper business has afforded me some great opportunities to meet and even interview some well-known celebrities and athletes.
* I was seated directly next to Jerry Mathers, star of "Leave it to Beaver" in the private dining room at The Packinghouse in Galesburg. He was incredibly nice and down-to-earth and answered every question I'm sure he's been asked thousands of times about "Leave it to Beaver."
* I shook hands with Muhammad Ali when we were both staying at the Union Station hotel in St. Louis.
Among the top athletes I've interviewed:
* Willie Mays at a baseball card show at Carl Sandburg College. A great player - a Hall of Famer. But on this day at least, he was a total jerk - not only to the media, but to the fans and show organizers.
* Pete Rose. He was cooperative and nice enough, but not overly warm. He balked at my question: What do you think of the chances of our local major league teams for the upcoming season? Pete responded, "You have major league teams here?" Of course I was referring to the Cardinals, Cubs and White Sox. He was appearing at a card show and memorabilia show at GHS on a Sunday, and he had a small TV with him tuned NFL games at the autograph line. That was before we knew, or he wast caught, as a gambler.
* Ozzie Smith. Another Hall of Famer who was cooperative, but again, not overly warm.
If phone-interviews count:
* Lou Holtz, when he was coach at Notre Dame.
* Niki Taylor, international supermodel (top that one, guys)
And if Twitter correspondence counts:
* Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, The Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore and I shared a moment just this week. Before you ask, it was for a blog I'm working on.

Coach Gohlinghorst
I was able to shake President Clinton’s hand when he came to Carl Sandburg

Dan Sullivan- A.D. and retired coach at Princeville.
Richard Nixon when he was campaigning in MKE 1972
John Wooden
Adolph Rupp
Bill Walton 
Oscar Robertson
Dr. J
Hubie Brown
Barry Swanson
Thom Sigel
Bill Hurckes
Evan Massey

Thom Sigel- Rock Island Coach
Believe it or not, my moment may be meeting Coach K with Rodney Bunch during lunch at the coaching clinic at Triton Junior College .  That is when Rodney asked to see his ring.  When Coach K started to show him his West Point ring, Rodney said, “No not that one – anyone can get one of those.  I want to see the National Championship ring.” 

In all honesty, have met a number of great college coaches and gotten autographs from many pro athletes.  Don’t think I have an Presidents for famous actors on my resume.

Amanda Gunther- 2003 GHS grad.
Who: Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn
Where: Chaps Country bar in the Quad Cities post concert
When: with my mom and family friends at age 17 or 18
Thoughts:  I don’t really get too excited to see famous people, not really my thing. However, meeting Brooks & Dunn and hanging with them post-concert with a handful of people is by far one of the cooler things that I’ve stumbled into. Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisly went to Chaps after their show at The Mark. We heard that they were heading there because we were with family friends who work for the company sponsoring the tour that had the insight. So…we went too. Upon arrival at Chaps, we were greeted with bar t-shirts, hats, coozies and were shuffled in through the back door. The bar thought we were family member of the band J We didn’t say a peep. We’re though the welcoming committee and in the kitchen and we run into Rascal Flatts. From there, we make our way out to the stage to take a seat. All artist perform, but Kix stood out to me more than anyone. He was genuine, humble, and loved being on the smaller stage jamming out. I’m a huge fan of his still… I listened to a lot more Country music after that night. I wish that I could run into him again and tell him how much we still talk about the night of that concert.

Jay Hatch- Alleman girls basketball coach
1. I met Danny Manning at a wedding.  He was down to earth considering her was worried about selling his $1 million dollar home.   At that time it was a buyer's market.

2. Pat Summit - Very gracious with her time.

3. Muffet McGraw - Unbelievably kind and willing to give of her knowledge.

4. John McCain - shook hands with him at a back yard deal for his campaign.  Seemed very sincere as politicians go.

5. Kendall Gill - was ridicously concerned about his car.  So much so, that he was getting out and wiping it down with a cloth every time we went to a new place.

Emily Cline- Knox Women’s coach
I am afraid I haven't met that many famous people but I have been in Pat Summitt's house and petted her dogs.  Also, when I lived in TN I saw Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Brad Paisley, etc... Alan Jackson and Vince Gill are huge 6'5 or so.  Amy Grant is really pretty and Brad Paisley is short.  Also, I met George Bush's niece she went to Sewanee.  So I can't say I have met too many famous people.  I have sat in the hotel lobby with Trey Wingo and Robin Roberts at the Final Four.  That's about all I got. 

Coach Rux
I would say…President Clinton and President Obama

President Clinton I shook hands with and spoke to when he came to Galesburg High School.  He was impressive because when I shook hands with him and there were a bunch of people trying to shake hands with him, I said to him that our high school basketball team had played the team from where his wife was from (Maine South).  He responded with…”Oh really?”  It showed he was listening and I thought that was pretty impressive.  Then I shook hands with him a second time after he was done speaking.  He asked, “Where did I leave off?”
I said, “Right here!” and extended my hand and my was the first he shook after he was done speaking.

I met President Obama in Oquawka, IL in 2004, less than a week after he gave his speech at the Democratic National Convention (when he first mentioned Galesburg).  He was a state senator running for the Illinois Senate.  I shook hands with him, told him who I was and that I taught in Galesburg, IL and said to him…”Don’t forget about education.”  
He said, “I won’t.”
Then I said, “Maybe someday we will see you in the White House.”  
He threw back his head and let out a big laugh….(kind of saying, Yeah, right). 
Had I not told him to run for president, his visit here on Wednesday wouldn’t have meant as much.
He was also very impressive because he listened to me and what I asked him and responded to my comment.

Neither one of the exchanges were planned.  I wasn’t sure I would get to talk or be able to speak with either of them

Aaron Frey
Tough to choose between you and Reynolds ...

In all seriousness, seeing the president was by far the most famous person I've ever seen up close. Although I didn't get to meet him, being just a few feet from the president is something that will stick with me forever.

I can honestly say I haven' t met that many "famous" people. Unless I'm forgetting someone, the biggest name would probably have to be Ryne Sandberg. I got to interview him when I was working at the Journal Star and he was managing the Peoria Chiefs. Oddly enough, he had just come back from the White House, where he and some other Hall of Famers had just had dinner with President Bush (of the W. variety). Ryno really wasn't that great of an interview, and I actually interrupted a lame and fairly long-winded answer to get to another question since I only had a few minutes with him. The two things that really stuck out to me were that he had a really firm handshake and he was every bit as tall as me (about 6-2 at the time). He might have played for the worst franchise ever, but it's not every day you get to talk to a Hall of Famer one-on-one.

Mark Massey- Clinton volleyball coach.
Have had picture taken with Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton. One of Ted's nephew's spent the night at my house in Clinton.

No picture but had a conversation and drink with Ernie Terrell and his sister Jean in a hotel in New Orleans in either 68 or 69.

Eddie Matthews & Warren Spahn after the ’62 All-Star game.

Brief conversation with John Madden on a train's lounge car in about ‘81. Bill Walton a year ago at CHS. Bob Feller at a hot stove banquet.

Libby Derry- Andie Allison’s sister, Charlottesville newscaster
As for your "Most Famous" question, I have kind of a long list. With my job, I'm often lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with well known people.

When I was doing sports, some of the most notable were Gayle Sayers, Mark Bulger, Fergie Jenkins, Dan Hampton (his hands were about the size of catcher's mitts), and VJ Singh (who was actually kind of a jerk, but in his defense he didn't shoot well that day at the JD Classic). Out of those, Gayle Sayers was my favorite.

It was 2005 and Kyle Orton had the Bears on a 9-4 run. Grossman was finally injury free, and I asked Sayers if he thought the Bears would give Rex a chance that night against the Falcons. He said there was no way... with Orton holding his own. I disagreed. That night Grossman did enter the game in the 3rd quarter, and his first pass was a long completion that set them up for a touchdown. I remember wondering if Gayle Sayers was thinking about me right then!

On the news side of things, I have gotten to interview a lot of interesting people, like Gen. Wesley Clark, David Gregory (Meet the Press), Michael Steele (when he was the RNC Chair), Husain Haqqani (Pakistan's Ambassador to the US), and just last week US Senator Mark Warner. That just names a few, but I have to say John Grisham was the only interview that had me a bit star struck.

It was my first year in Charlottesville, and Grisham was endorsing a Democratic rep. for reelection. He met me outside the event and did a live interview. He tries to keep a very low profile in Charlottesville, so this was kind of a big "get" for our station. Mr. Grisham was very nice, and asked me about where I was from, etc. I'm a big fan, so I felt a bit speechless (which, as you know, is not my usual condition), but we managed to get through the interview smoothly! He also said, "Galesburg, huh? There is a basketball coach in Galesburg who keeps sending me locks of his hair. Do you know an Evan Massey??"

(Because of the last comment Libby, that is why I identified you as Andie’s sister)

Coach Craig Hillier
I only have brushes with greatness every year…missed Shaq in 2010 by a few minutes & missed Obama in 2011 by 8 minutes.

Jessica Howard
The most famous person I have had the opportunity to meet is Pat Summit. Last year at Tennessee camp I waited in line to get her autograph for my Aunt Harriett.  You guys almost left me and I almost got lost finding my way out of the gym but it was definitely worth it! She was so cool up close. I think I'm sinking into a depression since she has dimentia.. She'll fight through it though!! I also got my picture taken with Ivory Latta my freshman year at bball camp and she called me baby girl.. I almost cried I was so thrilled!

Steve Cheesman- GHS boys basketball ass’t coach
Not many people want to be around me, so as a result, I haven’t met too many famous people, let alone “average” people.  Here are some that tolerated me, however:

1.Bill Clinton, at GHS-very charismatic
2. John McCain, at private dinner-genuinely a nice person
3. Jim Abbott (one handed baseball pitcher,) at private dinner-a real down-to-earth person
4. Frank Thomas (future hall of famer and best White Sox player ever),at Oak Brook, Il Dunkin Donuts-by accident-enormous man and extremely friendly and accommodating

Andie Allison
I would have to say my example for the most famous person I have ever met is appropriate for current news in the sports world. Two summers ago, when heading to team camp in Tennessee, I was lucky enough to meet Pat Summit. Though all the coaches there got to "meet" her through a hand shake, I was lucky enough to get a picture with Coach Summit. More exciting still, was after she had given her question/answer session for coaches. We were all exiting the large room and heading for the gym. I was towards the front of the pack and Coach Summit walked quickly to lead us in, where all the campers were waiting to watch a Tennessee Lady Vols practice. While walking next to her, Coach Summit was nice enough to ask me how I liked camp so far and what level I currently coached. At the time, I was coaching the 7th grade team at Churchill. When I informed her of the level I had been coaching, she replied with one word. Patience. Well said, Pat!

Don O’Brien- GHS Grad, Quincy Whig-Herald Sports
(not sure where we went wrong)
The most famous person I’ve met is Michael Jeffery Jordan. It was April 12, 1987 at a Bulls-Pacers game at the old Chicago Stadium.

It was “Get Your Picture Taken With Your Favorite Bull Day.” Of course, this was right before the title years, so everyone’s favorite Bull was Jordan. The line snaked around the inside of the stadium. I got about 15 feet from Jordan and they gave me a number 1 through 6 since there were six guys on the floor. I got No. 1. Jordan was at one end and Granville Waiters was at the other. It was the longest 2 minutes of my life figuring out if I was going to Jordan or Waiters.

Thankfully, it was Jordan. I shook his hand, said hello and sat down next to him for  a Polaroid photo. I still have that photo and my parents blew it up to an 8 by 10.

Fast forward 18 years and I’m covering the University of Illinois men’s basketball team at the Final Four. They played North Carolina in the title game. Of course, Jordan showed up at the game and I got right next to him after the game. I felt like that 16-year-old kid again whose hands were shaking after meeting my idol. Up to that point, it was the highlight of my young life. Jordan seemed like a great guy for just saying “Hi” to me.

My job has made me a lot less star struck. I’ve had the chance to interview Hall of Famers like Ryne Sandberg and I’ve been next to Albert Pujols more times than I can count. I covered the great St. Louis Rams teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s. I’ve covered the Masters five times, which gave me up close access to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and the great golfers of this generation.

I thought I was numb to seeing stars, but seeing MJ in St. Louis brought that feeling back — even it was only for a few minutes.

Thanks for letting me go down Memory Lane.