I don’t know if Brian Urlacher was really at the Uptown Cafe in Butte Friday night.
I suspect that he wasn’t, but I wish he was because I would have loved to hear the story of how the Chicago Bears great met Billy and Davey Dunmire.
Actually, I wouldn’t be interested so much in hearing the Dunmires’ account. I would be more interested in imagining how Urlacher described the encounter with Butte’s Super Fans.
I can picture a phone call where he said something like, “I was at this restaurant in Butte, Mont., and you should have seen these two guys just staring at us as we ate.”
I imagine it would be kind of like a phone call my college roommate made to his mom in Boston during spring break of 1997.
The night before I took Kirk to the M&M on T-bone night. We were hoping to get a cheese burger when we had the following encounter with Elsie, the legendary waitress:
Elsie: “What’ll it be, honey?”
Me: “Can we get a burger, Els?”
Elsie: “Nope. All we got is T-bones. What’ll it be, honey?”
The next day I heard Kirk on the phone say something like, “There’s a place in Butte, Mont., where the only thing you can order is a T-bone steak.”
You’d have to think an Urlacher meeting Davey and Billy would have ended with Urlacher making a phone call with a similar tone.
First, a little background on Davey, who like is brother, is a huge Yankees and Bears fan. Davey and his very understanding wife, Kristina, traveled to New York to watch the Yankees play a couple of weeks ago.
One morning they were walking around Manhattan, taking in the sights, when Kris noticed that Joe Torre, the legendary Yankees manager and now Major League Baseball executive, was walking down the street.
Kris pointed out Torre to Davey, and Davey panicked. He reached out, grabbed Torre by the arm and spun the four-time World Series winner around.
“Mr. Torre, Mr. Torre, I’m a life-long fan,” Davey said.
Torre responded politely with a thank you. He is, after all, a very nice man. At least it seems that way. Plus, he was probably scared for his life.
Can’t you just imagine what he said to the first guy he ran into at the office?
“Hey Tom, you should have seen this guy who just accosted me on the sidewalk. He reminded me of Kathy Bates on Misery. I need a body guard.”
So, Friday night we’re at a graduation party when Davey gets a text. The text is from his source that told him that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was in Belgrade earlier in the week. This text said Urlacher is at the Uptown Cafe, and Davey responded as if he was Bruce Wayne and he just saw the Bat Signal.
“I got five bucks that says it isn’t him,” I said as the Dunmires dashed off to see the retired linebacker.
“I’ll bet it’s Travis Hettick,” Billy said as he ran off.
As they drove away, all I could think about the best-case scenario for the Dunmires. You have to think they were picturing that as well as the anticipated meeting one of their heroes.
If all went according to plan, Urlacher would have looked up and said, “You’re Bears fans? All right, pull up a chair. Can I get you a drink. So, tell me about your favorite memory of watching me play.”
Then, if Davey and Billy composed themselves to the best of their abilities, Urlacher would basically find himself in the middle of an episode of The Chris Farley Show.
Davey: “Um, Mr. Urlacher, do you, do you remember that time when you … uh … when you intercepted Brett Favre and you … uh … returned it 90 yards for a touchdown?”
Urlacher, looking puzzled: “Yeah.”
Davey and Billy in unison: “That was awesome.”
Instead, they busted through the door at the Uptown and asked, “Is Brian Urlacher here?”
To that, the server replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t know who that is.”
Then they looked around, and there was no sign of Urlacher. Or Hettick.
That was probably a good thing for Urlacher, the Dunmires and the reputation of the Mining City.
An ever better near miss with a celebrity in Butte, America, came when sometime in the 1970s when Johnny Cash came to town for a concert at the Civic Center. Luckily, Tudo Stagnoli was in the hospital with a broken neck at the time.
Tudo has always been a Johnny Cash Super Fan, so he called his pal Swede Kenison, who was the manager of the Civic Center at the time. Tudo asked Swede if he would get an autograph for him since he couldn’t go to the show.
Tudo relayed the story to me and “Marvelous” Marvin Boggs the other day as we waited for Butte Central’s game to start at the Class A State softball tournament in Belgrade.
“I said, Swede, can you get me an autograph because I’m a really big Johnny Cash fan? Then Swede says, ‘Here,'” Tudo said as he mimicked the motion of the late-great Swede handing the phone to Johnny Cash.
“I talked to Johnny Cash on the phone,” Tudo said. “I have a record he autographed for me.”
“Wow,” I said. “I didn’t know Swede could impersonate Johnny Cash.”
Tudo almost fell over. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the seed of doubt I just planted in his mind. It was like I just told him Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny didn’t exist.
Marvin laughed so hard that he literally started to cry. Tudo called me a few names and made a few threats to my well being.
Now, Tudo doesn’t know if his autographed record is genuine or if it’s like those Evel Knievel posters signed by Muzzy Faroni. He doesn’t know if he talked to the Man In Black or Swede Kenison.
Anybody who had the good fortune to know Swede can surely picture him on the phone telling Tudo, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”
For Tudo’s sake, I really hope he can believe it was the real deal again. An autograph from a legend like that is priceless. A brief conversation with the man is even better.
For Johnny’s sake, though, I’m glad he didn’t have to have a conversation with a star-struck Tudo in person. I’m not sure the Man In Black could have handled being on The Chris Farley Show.
“You, you, you remember when you sang Ring of Fire … That was awesome.”
— Sportswriter Bill Foley, who doesn’t have to meet a celebrity to turn into a stuttering fool, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 5 comments