We left off last week chatting with Ted about his incredible relationship with Ted Turner. Now, let’s discover the only major city in North America where the Famous SD Chicken has yet to perform! Also – learn about some fun cameo appearances and the famous MLB player who wanted to trade autographs.
Padres360 – Is there any place you haven’t performed yet?
Ted -The only place I’ve never been to is the city of Boston, for sports.
Padres360 – Fenway?
Ted – Right. Fenway, Boston Garden, the old Boston Garden, the current whatever they call it now, Fleet Center, I don’t know.
I’ve never been there. And over the years, management has told me that they’re too conservative for these types of things. They felt, at the time, that their fans would rebel in horror. I’ve been all throughout Massachusetts. But oh, the sanctity of it…
Back then, they wouldn’t even conceive of inviting a mascot like myself. Other teams would and I had been all throughout Massachusetts, all throughout New England, but never Boston. So, all throughout North America and it goes all the way down into Mexico City, I’ve played every major city that there is except Boston.
>>> Come on Boston! Your World Series Red Sox all grew beards … you are “Boston Strong” … you can’t handle some great entertainment by the Famous SD Chicken??
Padres360 – So, is that something you still want to be able to check off?
Ted – There was a time, yes. But now, it doesn’t matter to me at this point. If Boston is the last to know about things, so be it. But yeah, it would have been a big success. I remember one time, Red Auerbach, I wrote him a letter and he seriously thought about it and though about it and he was, “Ah no, better not.” But it’s not for lack of trying that I didn’t lobby these things in Boston because everyone else had done it. Albeit, I’ve never done a Yankees home game either. They’re pretty buttoned down. Their culture is very buttoned down. Did plenty of the Mets, did plenty of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. And let’s see, and everybody else across the country. I would have loved to have gone to Montreal for a Canadian’s game at the old Forum, never got that opportunity. I did go to Montreal, do a college game for McGill University.
Padres360 – So, for these places that you tried to get in and you couldn’t, did you ever think about just going in the back door by grabbing a ticket? Buying ticket and going in and then voila, you’re there?
Ted – No, to me ‘no’ meant no and that’s that. I remember on occasion when I was on the road quite extensively and I had an open day, this happened one time in Milwaukee, I called up the Brewers and I said, “Hey, I’m passing through. I’ve got an open day. You want me to come on and do a cameo?” They said, “Heck yeah.” So I came on, did a cameo, audience went nuts, of course. And I had a great time, big picture in the paper the next day about it. But the Brewers never invited me officially to a game. I went to Milwaukee because they had a minor league hockey team there and the Milwaukee Bucks at the NBA. They always had me in. And I noticed that in some markets, if one team has you in and you’re identified with that, looks like they’re copying them. So, they wouldn’t necessarily want to bring in somebody, “That’s what the Milwaukee Bucks had, looks like we’re copying the Bucks.”
>>>Here is a classic video from the Metrodome!
Padres360 – Well, you would think they’d want to attract the fan base and the fan loyalty. They’d want to build on that, especially today. With people, there’s so much competition for the entertainment dollar.
Ted – That’s true. That really is true. One of my favorite cameo appearances was at Shea Stadium. And I was between airplane flights, had a long delay at LaGuardia Airport. My next flight was literally about four and a half hours away. And the old Shea Stadium is just, I think, one or two exits away from LaGuardia. So, I called up the Mets that morning. I say, “Hey, I’m going to have a layover in New York. Want me to come in and do a cameo appearance?” And it was Memorial Day against the Phillies. Mets said, “Sure, come on down.”
Okay. And so, I just walked in like you said. I remember in the third inning coming in and the audience just went nuts. It was really something and to see them respond the way they did immediately. I remember one thing, walking into that stadium from the left field line in the stands and just walking in cold turkey, so to speak, and the audience rose as one from that side of the stands while the game is going on. And I actually felt like Muhammad Ali walking into a place. The place stood up. I mean, New Yorkers can make you feel absolutely fantastic. And people come in out of this stands. I remember one guy coming out of the stands shaking my hand. Pardon my language, he says, “You are so fucking funny.” And I hadn’t even started what I wanted to do. I just did an inning on top of one dugout, half an inning on one dugout, then go to the other dugout, do half an inning.
And then I had to get to my plane and the PA announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Chicken just stopped by to do a cameo between flights at LaGuardia.” And sure enough, a few years later the Mets came out with, I think, what was this, 25th anniversary book of Mets history or something. And they used a full-page picture of me in that book of that afternoon, being on top of the dugout. You can see the fans just crazy, crowding around the dugout especially the kids and everything. And it was a great picture. But yeah, that was a special moment, yeah. So to answer your question, Rebecca, yeah, on occasion I have come in through the back door but I call ahead, see if it’s okay.
>>> Here is a very fun video of the Famous Chicken impersonating Mets’ very own, Willie Montanez at Shea Stadium
Padres360 – Sounds like you’re always greeted quite well, too.
Ted – Yeah, oh yeah. But for Boston, I never tried to crash their party. ‘No’ means no and I respect that and that’s that.
Padres360 – And as you’ve travelled around, have you had an opportunity to collect memorabilia?
Ted – I haven’t. And I’m not really a collector, other than memories that I enjoyed. But I’ve had things handed over to me. One of my favorite moments, I remember I’m in Anaheim doing a game for the Angles against Boston. Roger Clemens is pitching for Boston at the time. And he takes the game into the 10th inning and leaves with a no decision, 1-1 tie. And so, I’m on top of the Angels dugout. It’s about the 11th, maybe 12th inning. And batboy signals me from below. He says, “Chicken, Chicken! I’ve got something for you.” And he shakes a baseball at me. It’s Roger Clemens’ autograph. And so, I take a moment. I come down and I look at it and said, “Yeah, it really is Roger’s.” It says, “To my pal, The Chicken. Your friend, Roger ‘The Rocket’ Clemens.” And he pulls it back from me. “I can’t give it to you. I can only give it to you in trade for two autographed pictures for his boys.” I said, “It’s a deal!”
Padres360 – In trade.
Ted – Yeah. So, I signed the photos, two 8×10’s, and then gave them to him. And so, I did not know all this time Roger Clemens had been paying attention on the field and here I am goofing on him. I didn’t do anything with him per se. But this is during his Boston days. But I just found it very interesting that I could only get the baseball in trade for two autographed photos.
Padres360 – That’s awesome. I love that.
Next week we find out if Ted would ever sell the right to the Chicken. Would he really sell his feathers and walk away? Also – find out what led him to start “pretend urinating” on umpires! Check next week’s edition of Tuesdays with Ted.
Wayne & Rebecca