For Day 2 of our ‘Enjoy It While You Can’ tour, Steve and I decided to spend the day exploring different locations north of Chicago, where we also had two specific destinations logged on our must-see agenda: the campus of Northwestern University, located in Evanston, and the McDonald’s Museum in nearby Des Plaines. For whatever strange reason, we chose to skip the White Sox-Indians game taking place that night at Comiskey Park, which now seems odd considering we’d made this trip primarily to attend baseball games; the most expensive ticket at Comiskey was a Club Level seat at $18, while the cheapest was an $8 seat in either the upper deck or the center field bleachers (yes, those were major league prices!), so I can’t imagine expense was the roadblock keeping us from going. However, considering my miserly ways of the time, I wouldn’t be surprised if that had been the reason after all.
So, with an entire day at our disposal, we got an early start out of the Days Inn and traveled north on Lake Shore Drive to Sheridan Road, which took us right into the pleasant little town of Evanston and the grounds of Northwestern University, home of the Wildcats and, as we found out, not so much the home of students, or anyone else for that matter: being the middle of summer, there wasn’t a lot of activity taking place on a college campus on a Tuesday morning. The day, however, was a nice one, so we explored the campus anyway, cracked jokes at the expense of squirrels and student handbills, and found some photo-worthy cement benches courtesy of the Class of 1986. I don’t know what it is about colleges and universities—Cal Poly SLO, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and Marquette later in this trip, to name a few—but Steve and I seem to enjoy visiting them when we travel on these baseball-themed vacations.
From there, we walked to the small downtown area of Evanston, not far from the college, where after a quick stop at Rose Records and a comic book shop, we found what appeared to be a promising spot for lunch, a bar-and-grill called Yesterdays, housed in a square brick building and wedged against a collection of college dormitories. Inside, we ordered cheeseburgers and fries, and since I was the hungrier of the two, I ordered the half-pound burger, while Steve opted for the smaller quarter-pounder. The meal was a good one, but it all quickly turned sour when we were handed our bill, and we noticed we’d been erroneously charged for two half-pound burgers. We called the server back to the table, and when Steve explained to her the mistake, this delightful exchange took place:
Server: “Yes, but I brought out two half-pound burgers.”
Steve: “But I ordered a quarter-pound burger, not a half-pound one.”
Server: “But you ate it!”
Steve: “Well, I’m sorry I didn’t have a scale with me to weigh it first!”
Needless to say, the server steadfastly refused to correct the bill, and insisted we pay for two half-pound burgers. Granted, the difference was only a buck, but it was our buck, and we weren’t too eager to give it up so easily, especially to a half-wit server at a local diner. So, instead of calling the manager over for a jaw session over a dollar, we took matters into our own hands and simply pulled the amount from her bare-minimum tip. We then paid our bill and left.
Undaunted, we decided to take a walk around the tree-splendored college neighborhood to cool off, where during our stroll we spotted a house that had been converted into school offices, and was now home to the Northwestern University Department of Statistics, which I declared to be “the official statistics processing department of Statis Pro 1978 Replay,” and where “statistics of the Great Lakes teams—Cleveland, Detroit, both Chicagos, and Milwaukee—are processed and sent back to me via Federal Express.” To this day, and as you may have seen throughout this site, Steve and I still make references to this location when discussing SP78 stats, records, and game facts.
Our next visit was to nearby Des Plaines and the McDonald’s #1 Store Museum, a replica of the first McDonald’s fast food shop opened by Ray Kroc in 1955, created after the original had been torn down in 1984. The building itself was built to the exact specifications of the old walk-up style restaurants, and featured some classic automobiles parked in front to add a bit of period flavor. After pulling into the small visitor lot, and checking out the mock-ups of the service area (replete with ’50s-dressed mannequin employees) and taking a look at the four old-time cars, we finally found the entrance to the museum, on the side of the restaurant where you’d normally find the rest rooms; past the door we descended into the simple basement-area layout, filled to the brim with McDonald’s memorabilia, advertising, and historic photographs. We’d assumed there’d be an admission fee of some kind, or at least uniformed museum personnel watching over the place, but neither seemed to be necessary here. In fact, Steve and I were the only visitors, and apparently could’ve made off with some prized collectibles if we’d chosen to.
After our brief museum visit, which of course featured much joke-cracking between us (McDonald’s Attack Dogs! Ray Kroc: Stiff as a Gill Man!), we ventured across the street to an actual McDonald’s for lunch, then made our way back to downtown Chicago for more exploring there, and a visit to the City Store of Chicago, an elevator ride up to the observatory of the John Hancock Center, and dinner at the old Pizzeria Uno on Ohio Street. With our day winding down, and a second trip to Comiskey apparently off-limits, we made a stop at a convenience story called White Hen Pantry (or Rented White Panties, as Steve referred to it) for a six-pack of Pepsi, then headed back to our room at the Days Inn and settled in for an evening of baseball there. We relaxed for a bit with the Dodgers-Giants game on ESPN, then moved to the table by the window and prepared to play the second Statis Pro game of the trip.
Game #674 featured a match-up of the Rangers and Blue Jays, a June 3rd contest at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, with Doc Medich going for the Rangers against Jesse Jefferson of the Jays. Steve chose to pilot the Rangers, and after building a 5-1 lead, saw his chances for victory evaporate when a 3-run HR from Dave McKay and a run-scoring double by Rick Bosetti in the fourth tied the game at 5-5, and RBI base hits from John Mayberry and Roy Howell two innings later gave the Jays a lead they’d never relinquish, and an eventual 7-5 win. However, the game wasn’t without controversy, as Steve made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the limited number of relief pitchers he had at his disposal (“You’re forcing me to bring in Len Barker, who you know Rick Bosetti can hit like nothing!”), then watched in stunned horror as the pitcher I’d ‘forced’ on him, the aforementioned Barker, promptly served up the game-tying two-bagger to Bosetti.
For Steve, it was his first of his three SP78 games played on the trip, and the loss would be his last on the ‘Enjoy It While You Can’ tour. We hit our respective sacks after the game, and with Day 2 in the books, we’d now be leaving in the morning for Wisconsin, and two days of Brewers games at Milwaukee County Stadium. And happily, a much more engaging bar-and-grill experience, with a cute blonde waitress in Wauwatosa.