Last night, David Ross became the first major league baseball player to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Now, even though it says "Stars" in the title, you may not know David Ross. For the past two seasons, he's been the backup catcher on the Chicago Cubs. And I love the guy. And he's adored in Chicago, even though he only played with the team for two years, and he's just a backup catcher. In fact, the second half of last season, he was the second backup catcher. He only had 205 plate appearance last year -- when 600 is a full season. His batting average was .229. The year before, his first with the Cubs, he hit only .176. But -- people love him. The fans in Chicago, and the players. He's a team leader in the clubhouse, a wonderful guy. And still strong defensively, which is critical for a catcher.
When Ross announced he was going to retire at the end of the season, the Cubs players went out of their way to honor him all year. One player, Jason Heyward, paid for a hotel suite for Ross in every city the Cubs played in when on the road. Anthony Rizzo and others began a "Grandpa Rossy" online website and posted pictures of him all year to honor him, though in a humorous way. And throughout the year, the team and players and "old man" tributes to him. (He's not that old, but given how young the Cubs were, Ross at age 39 was a geezer.)
In his last regular season game, which was played at Wrigley Field and was on national television, manager Joe Madden went out to the mound late in the game to ostensibly remove the pitcher, which confused the announcers since the pitcher was doing fine. It turned out that Madden had set the moment up before the game with the approval of the pitcher -- and was there to remove Ross, just so that catcher could have his moment before the roaring fans as he made the long walk to the dugout. (A very emotional guy, Ross was in tears after the game.)
In the final game of his career, Game Seven of the World Series -- David Ross hit a home run in his final at bat. After the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, how did they celebrate? They carried David Ross off the field -- their 3rd-string catcher. And yes, he was in tears.
As I said, people love David Ross.
Happily, even though he retired. Ross returned to the Cubs and works with the team in a management and coaching position. The bonds were that close, even after only two seasons in Chicago.
Here's the video of "Grandpa Rossy's" appearance on Dancing with the Stars. I didn't see it -- I don't watch the show -- but it turns out he didn't embarrass himself and did nicely.
Oh, and what song did he dance to? What else? Steve Goodman's "Go, Cubs, Go"!! (They didn't use Goodman's version, but the show put together its own recording.)
The above-video cuts off before the judges segment, and also before a special surprise that the TV show put together. So, here's a follow-up video. Just jump to the 1:20 mark and skip past some of the footage that you've seen before. (I'd have used this video below in full, except that it starts with the dance, and doesn't include the "featurette" that leads into it with him training.) It turns out that the judges were pleased with his efforts, as well, and seemed to enthusiastically like the guy on top of it. How could they not? As I said --
People love David Ross.