Take me out to the ball game

Mike Ditka will conduct the seventh-inning stretch June18 at Wrigley Field.

It will be Ditka's fourth appearance--last season's was wiped out in the aftermath of Sept. 11--as the man with the microphone. Few people have forgotten his original effort (the speediest in Wrigley history) that put the tribute to Harry Caray on the map.

"That was the classic rendition in '98,'' Cubs vice president of marketing and broadcasting John McDonough told the Chicago SunTimes Wednesday. "Then '99 and 2000 were not much better quality wise, but he is certainly in the seventh-inning stretch Hall of Fame--for bad. He's up there with Joe Frazier, Mel Gibson, Nancy Kerrigan and Cuba Gooding Jr. Steve McMichael was memorable.''

The former Bears coach will perform against Texas in a night game.

"There's certainly a tie-in with the Rangers,'' McDonough said. "He played and coached with the Cowboys.

"He's so bad, and that's the beauty of it. I think people want to find out if it's possible he's as bad as he's been in the past. The only answer we give them: We hope so.''

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