William Petersen thought he was onto something. All he had to do was walk down the street to a doughnut shop, pick up the pay phone, lower his voice to sound like his dad and inform the school secretary that young Billy too sick to attend.
Then it was off to Wrigley Field.
Petersen, an actor and star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigators, grew up in Evanston, just north of Chicago. He loved the Cubs and worshipped their star shortstop, Ernie Banks. He said he was there on Aug. 4, 1960, when a scrappy Reds second baseman named Billy Martin charged the mound and punched Cubs pitcher Jim Brewer in the face, breaking an orbital bone.
Petersen recalled calling the school when he was in the 8th grade, then heading to Wrigley with a friend.
"We were wandering around the aisle of the grandstand down the third baseline and the Cubs were up in the bottom of the first," he recalled. The batter was Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger, who "scorched a foul ball over the third base dugout and coming at the aisle."
Petersen instinctively stuck his hand out to prevent the ball from hitting his friend in the head.
"It bounced off my wrist and… hit the railing and came right back to me," he said. "I caught it on the rebound."
It was a nice play that, unfortunately for Petersen, was captured on WGN, which broadcast the Cubs games.
"Some neighbour was watching the game and said, ‘Hey, that’s Billy Petersen, he just caught a foul ball. What’s he doing there?’ (and) he called my parents," Petersen said.
By the time he got home, not only did his parents know he’d been to the game, but the school had called to tell them this wasn’t the first time “Dad” had telephoned to say Billy was sick.
"I had to spend the last month of my eighth-grade year cleaning the floors of hallways with the janitors," he said."