These days, there's another reason to call Johnnie B. Baker Jr. “Dusty."
Rumor has it that the Cubs manager was seen sprinkling “magic dust” around Wrigley Field recently, an act which some of the team’s fans believe has contributed to the Cubs attaining their first postseason berth in five years — and first division title since 1989.
Cubs fans celebrating their team’s success have the opportunity to own some of Wrigley Field’s "magic" dust in a collectible that commemorates the Cubs’ National League Central Division championship. In the process, they'll help children battling life-threatening medical conditions.
Nikco Sports of St. Louis is offering a limited edition of 10,000 matted and framed Wrigley Field photo plaques — featuring actual dirt from the Wrigley infield — with a goal of raising $60,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois, an organization that helps make wishes come true for children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Nikco will donate $6 (10 percent) from each photo plaque sold. The Highland Mint, an official licensee of Major League Baseball, manufactures the photo plaques.
Besides an 8-by-10-inch photograph of Wrigley Field — featuring the famed ballpark’s ivy-covered walls and large scoreboard, surrounding buildings and Chicago’s skyline — each photo plaque contains a 24-karat gold overlay medallion embedded in double matting under a glass pane. It features the Cubs logo and the date the franchise was established.
A second medallion has a center that is filled with dirt recently taken from Wrigley Field. The entire presentation is enclosed in a 12-by-15 black laminated frame.
The Wrigley Field photo plaques will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis for $59.95 each. The plaque will be available by calling (800) 345-2868 or visiting www.nikcosports.com. It will not be sold at retail outlets.
Each plaque will have a numbered certificate of authenticity inset into the matting. The certificate will read: "Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, 2003 National League Central Division Champions. Built in 1914, Bleachers and Scoreboard Constructed and Ivy Planted in 1937, Lights added in 1988. Originally named Weeghman Park in 1914, Cubs Park in 1920 and Wrigley Field in 1926."
There will also be a numbered hologram, with which the plaque owner can go to majorleaguebaseball.com, enter the plaque number and find exactly what part of the infield the dirt was taken from. Nikco publicist Bob Ibach, who was public relations director for the Cubs during a portion of the 1980s, has the first-hand scoop about the dirt.
Major League Baseball sent a crew to help dig out areas of the infield before a bag of dirt was sent to be put into the medallions.
"We were careful not to dig too deep," Ibach said. "The wife of Charlie Grimm (a former Cubs player and manager) had his ashes spread near second base after he died in 1983. I used to kid Ryne Sandberg when he made a play that he was stepping on old Jolly Cholly."
Sunday: Diamondbacks pitcher Miguel Batista will sign autographs from 11:30 a.m, to 12:30 p.m. at Az Sports Gallery at Arrowhead Towne Center, lower level inside by J.C. Penney. Autographs will be $12 for each item. For more information, call (623) 412 -1430.
Today-Sunday: Phoenix Spectrum Mall, 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Mall hours. 60 tables. Adm: Free. Contact: Darrel Ereth (602) 765-0026.