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08-08-2001, 11:43 AM
McMichael ejected during seventh-inning stretch

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Harry Caray never caused this much commotion during the seventh-inning stretch.

Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael was ejected from Wrigley Field on Tuesday night when he criticized an umpire after singing "Take Me Out to The Ball Game."

Before leading the crowd of 40,266 in the song, McMichael yelled out, "I'm going to have to have a talk with that umpire down there."

Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez -- the subject of McMichael's criticism -- appeared steamed by the comments and signaled for McMichael's ejection. According to Cubs officials, Hernandez asked crew chief Randy Marsh to call to the press box and ask that McMichael be removed.

John McDonough, the Cubs' director of marketing and broadcasting, told ESPN the Cubs have apologized to the umpires and denied that McMichael was ever told the Cubs would have to forfeit the game if he did not leave -- a claim McMichael made on ESPN Radio on Wednesday. McMichael is an employee of ESPN Radio 1000.

McMichael was upset by an apparent blown call by Hernandez in the sixth inning of Chicago's 5-4 win over Colorado.

Ron Coomer tried to score from third when Denny Neagle's pitch hit off Colorado catcher Adam Melhuse's glove. Melhuse recovered and threw to Neagle. Hernandez called Coomer out, although replays appeared to show that Coomer slid in before being tagged.

The Cubs have been using guest singers during the seventh-inning stretch ever since Caray, their longtime announcer, died before the 1998 season.

Whenever the Cubs schedule someone to sing, they sit down with that person beforehand and discuss what that person is going to say before singing during the seventh-inning stretch.

There will be one change made in regard to the instructions, according to McDonough. To this point, there never was anything specific said to the guest singers to avoid references to the umpires and the game. Now, each singer will get those instructions.

Almost 300 people have performed during the seventh-inning stretch, but this was the first incident involving criticism of an umpire.

"There have been some poor renditions, but nobody had used it as a forum," McDonough said. "That's not what it's supposed to be about. In great respect to Harry Caray, I guess we're finding out that he wasn't as bad as we thought."