This was the immediate response Mr. Pat Hughes gave to me when I called him "Mr. Hughes"..."Call me Pat."
The response in itself might not strike you as significant, exciting or even relevant...but it exemplifies quite elegantly the man I met this past weekend.
As many of you know(ad nauseam...sorry), I wrote and published a book about the Chicago Cubs last year. Fortunately, I was able to participate in the festivities at CubsCon as a vendor. I was in booth # 24, which is not of much interest to anyone, but Pat Hughes...radio voice of the Chicago Cubs...was in booth #23.
"Mr. Hughes, I would love to get you a copy of my book" I stated within a minute or two of the mans arrival, embarassingly not even allowing him to unpack. "Call Me Pat" he said almost automatically, as though he has said it a million times. Before the horde of Cubs' fans(including Brett and some other BNers) were allowed in the exhibition hall, Mr. Hughes...er, Pat, perused my book a bit. He laughed a couple of times and then pointed out a passage that he found amusing.
A long time ago I figured out why so many people, upon meeting celebrities, describe them as arrogant or rude. We humans have a natural instinct inside of us that when we are surprised and elated to see a famous person, like a professional athlete or movie star...we expect them to be excited to see us. The problem is, they have heard "I am your biggest fan" or "I love your work" thousands upon thousands of times.(millions probably in Brett's case), More than likely, the celebrity feigns interest in the fan to some minimal extent. Therefore the chance meeting usually ends up as a disappointment for the "non" celebrity. Pat's fans(still weird to call him that)...do not leave disappointed.
The crowd at CubsCon is...eccentric...to say the least. Many of them are almost delusional in their passion for the Chicago National League ballclub. They wear every jersey imaginable( I saw a Jim Bullinger jersey?), Cubs' pajamas, costumes, Harry Carry masks, and even have Cubs' tatoos proudly displayed. These are the fans that most sports talk show hosts in Chicago mock on a routine basis. These were the fans who were constantly stopping at Pat's booth.
...and he made time for ALL of them.
Pat was geniunely happy and excited to see them, honestly remembering many of them from past years. He signed countless autographs, and took inummerable pictures. Many of them lingering at Pat's booth for some time...Pat engaging with them as if they were old friends. Pat's time at this booth was not minimal. I manned my booth for an exhasuting 22 hours over the three days...Pat was there for the duration as well, only departing his booth to lead the Opening Ceremonies or host Cubs' Jeopardy.
Pat Hughes is not a world reknown celebrity, yet he is a star of great magnitude with the group of people who converged on the Sheraton Hotel and Towers last weekend. I was amazed at the humility, grace and thoughtfulness he displayed. It was a lesson that a few other media "celebrities" I have encountered could emulate.
"Pat" as he told ne to call him, taught me a life lesson at my advanced age of 45...and it's one I will never forget.