Spectators are filtering into the bleacher seats, so Harry rushes out to join them. He bustles down labyrinthine corridors underneath the stands, stocky legs pumping hard. It is nearly game time, but his crew is only now beginning to set up, and he still has a television interview to do. When he reaches the bleachers, he receives a tumultuous "Hey, Harry" welcome. He stands on the walkway below leading the cheering.
Harry's broadcasting table is situated on a platform to the left of the hitters' backdrop, a rope separating him from the fans. Near Harry's table is a barber's chair, where Lynn Gladowsky gives haircuts during the game at $4 a clip. Harry plugs her business on the air, interviews her customers and, naturally, has his own locks shorn by her. On the runway below there is a shower where overheated bleacherites douse themselves, Harry among them.
For his television interview, Harry selects from the crowd John Durkin, a 21-year-old Illinois State student. "I need a beer," Durkin says, steeling himself for the ordeal. "You want one, Harry?" Harry does. Durkin's college pals, who have quaffed many beers, cheer him noisily throughout the interview. They are encouraged by Harry, who cries out, "He's good, isn't he?" Harry waves his beer in a toast to Durkin, and there is a raucous demonstration in the bleachers.
Harry's attach� case and butterfly net arrive only moments before the national anthem. Conditions are seldom ideal for the bleacher broadcasts, but an increasingly capricious wind adds fresh complications. Harry's statistical sheets soar about him like kites, and strands of freshly trimmed hair from Gladowsky's barber chair drift into his beer. "You can't beat fun at the old ball park," Harry shouts to no one in particular. The camera lights are on. "It's a hot, humid, windy...beeoootiful day for baseball," Harry begins in his hoarse baritone, "and here we are in the bleachers. These are baseball's true fans right here."
In the first inning of the game with Kansas City, Sox Third Baseman Eric Soderholm throws wildly to first on a routine ground ball. "Soderholm made a terrible throw," Harry moans. "He could've run the ball over in time to get that out and he threw it away. But that's baseball." One hitter later, the chastened Soderholm makes a diving catch of a hard ground ball between third and short and, from his knees, throws the runner out. "Hol-lee Cow!" Harry bellows. "What a sensational play! And after missing that easy one. That's baseball."
The wind, which is picking up, topples one of Harry's beers and drenches a stat sheet. Harry calls for a towel. The flying hair lends a gauzy effect to the already improbable scene, so that when seen head-on Harry appears to be a figure from a Renoir. Harry's television monitor is not functioning, and because a portion of rightfield is obscured by the black backdrop that rises to his left, he can only speculate on the ultimate destination of balls hit there. Inebriated bleacherites hover near him, demanding to be put on the air. The "Hey, Harry" cries grow more insistent, taking on a less friendly, more satirical tone. The loudest of these emanate from a man with a transistor radio affixed to his ear, someone obviously intent on hearing the sound of his own voice on the radio.
Harry revels in the chaos. Not even the most offensive drunk ruffles him. He poses for pictures between innings, flourishes his beer, shakes hands, kisses the ladies. His microphone becomes a baton as he conducts the bleacher chorus in a rendition of the White Sox fight song, Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye. And he dutifully reads the scribbled notes that find their way to him: "Aunt Carrie Gable from LaSalle is here celebrating her 85th birthday.... Now here's a bunch of guys who write, 'Please assure our wives we really did come to the game....' "
Harry goes on to extol the virtues of bleacher dwelling. "We got a shower and we got a barber chair. I don't know what else we need." There is also the ball game. "Ooops, Joe Zdeb just singled for Kansas City. His name spelled backwards is...."
The Sox win a laugher, and Harry leads the fans in a final cheer: "Sox win! Sox win! Sox win!" He is drenched with sweat, but he leaves the ball park fulfilled, pleased with the show. He is a man who enjoys his work, his life. And the evening lies ahead.
Outside the park, Harry is approached by a well-dressed drunk. "How are you, my friend?" says affable Harry. The drunk says nothing. He just stares at Harry. Harry smiles uneasily. "I love you, Harry," the drunk says solemnly. Harry pats him on the arm. "I love you because...." Harry pats him again and starts to walk away. "I love you," the drunk says, his voice trailing after the stocky man in the short pants. "I love you," he repeats, inspired now. "I love you because...you're Harry Caray."