Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bernie Mac, 1957-2008

Bernard McCullough, original king of comedy and star of the Ocean's Two-Digit Number movies and his own Bernie Mac Show, dead at the age of 50. This really makes me sad, because Bernie Mac was one of the first celebrities I ever interviewed, and he was wonderful (as was his TV series). It was just over the phone, but he performed for me, imitating his uncles getting mad at the young Bernie with such ferocity that I thought Bernie had gotten furious with me.

Bernie sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at game six of the Cubs-Marlins playoff in 2003, the infamous Bartman game. The Cubs were up 2-0 at the time, needing only to win that game to go to the World Series, so Mac sang "Root, root, root for the champions," rather than the traditional "Root, root, root for the Cubbies." The presumptive champs did go out and score another run in the bottom of the seventh, but then coughed up eight in the eighth. Some fans blamed Mac for getting ahead of himself with his singing, but I don't know how you could blame him more than you could the Cubs.

For his part, Bernie, a born-and-bred South Sider, later admitted he always hated the Cubs. "We couldn’t afford the Cubs," he said. "Cubs was way northside. Cubs was the elite. The White Sox was the hood. When you went to the White Sox and came out, your car was broken in. And they left a note, 'Sorry.' It was the Sox. When they had Carlos May, Luis Aparicio, Wilbur Wood, and all those guys. And that was my first. I had my baseball glove and we [were] up there on the roof. I went with my grandfather, my brother, my cousin, my uncle and my other cousin. My uncle was a preacher and he did a lot of community work and he got some tickets. You didn’t care about where you sat at that time. We were all the way up here looking at the players like [far away]. And I had my glove like something was getting ready to come up there. I say, 'I’m gonna catch it, I’m gonna catch it. Whatever it is, I’m gonna catch it.'"

I hope you caught it, Bernie.

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