I decided to meet a famous guy this weekend. So I did.
If you follow sports you might just be impressed.
If you don’t follow sports, this is Chris Fowler. He’s probably best known for hosting ESPN’s College GameDay every Saturday in the fall. He also anchors large tennis tournaments (including the ATP), The Breeder’s Cup, and the FIFA World Cup.
He celebrated his 48th birthday on Monday. But before that, on Saturday, I actually got to talk to the guy as I handed him a polka dot pen and swirled in my own nervousness.
Here’s how I kicked off our conversation: “Chris, I have two little boys at home who would absolutely love your signature.”
It was such a line. My boys are 3 and 5, and while they love football, they really only know this much about it: 1) The ball is brown, you throw it and catch it. 2) You cheer as loudly as you can for the Buckeyes.
Even if they don’t know Chris’s name yet, I’m sure they’d know his voice. When you live in a Big 10 college town like we do, football is your backdrop from Labor Day to New Year. Considering that, Chris’s voice has been in their football-loving ears since they were babies.
Chris was friendly. “Oh sure, just let me fix this,” he said while fiddling with his mic. And then, he was as cool and good-hearted as you’d expect. He waved to my mother, wrote a note to my boys, and chatted with my mom’s friend, Dee. When it started to rain, he said goodbye, we took cover, and it was over.
It was a really good celebrity experience. Thanks, Chris. Happy Birthday.
Later, I met silver fox Brad Gilbert. Brad took the ATP title in 1989, where he systematically beat Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg. On Saturday, he was a total mug for the camera:
And seconds after, I met Patrick McEnroe.
Although you might know Patrick’s older brother John a bit better, Patrick won the French Open with his doubles partner in 1989. Like Chris, he was totally open to banter. But I’m having trouble taking his signature seriously:
I was also on the broadcast for a quick 30 seconds, but I don’t have the footage. Don’t worry, you’re not missing anything…just me looking like a goofball, waving at camera 3.
Even with all of that, I could have pushed it further. It would have been so easy to ask for a picture with these guys, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. They would have said yes, because they were nice guys, and maybe that’s why I didn’t ask. It just didn’t feel right pushing those boundaries and taking advantage of their generosity.
As for meeting one of the competing tennis pros? Not this year, although I watched for them. However, I did get a lead for next year: apparently, one of the players has a place he likes to visit in Cincinnati just before a match. It’s a ritual for him. A superstition, almost. If he makes it to the finals next year, I might just make it to that place at the designated time. And then maybe I’ll accidentally bump into him, and use my kids as an excuse to strike up a conversation.
See you next year, Andy.
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