Bush scores with Bears fans at Frankfort Chevy dealer
By Steve Metsch Sun-Times Media October 27, 2012 8:12PM
Worth resident Brian Weems (far right) watches as Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush (far left) autographs a football during an appearance at Phillips Chevrolet Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, at 9700 W. Lincoln Highway in Frankfort. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:59AM
Bears running back Michael Bush may miss his pals back in Oakland, but he made about 250 new friends in Frankfort on Saturday.
Bush, 28, is in his first year with the Bears after playing four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
“I miss my Oakland guys, but winning changed everything,” he said with a smile.
Bush signed footballs, photographs, helmets, pennants — pretty much anything with a Bears logo — at Phillips Chevrolet, 9700 W. Lincoln Highway.
General manager Michael Maheras said the promotion raised about $25,000 for the American Cancer Society. Folks bought $1 raffle tickets for goodies like gift cards and Bears gear. Another 1,000 raffle tickets, at $20 a pop, were sold the chance to win a new car.
Stephanie Moretti, of Shorewood, won the 2013 Chevy Spark, painted “tecnho pink,” Maheras said.
Fans didn’t mind Bush was late and applauded when he arrived around 3 p.m.
They came from Manhattan to Wrigleyville to meet Bush and share their high expectations for the team. That’s to be expected with a 5-1 record.
“(We are) winning, which is good. The team is good. (We have) a great coaching staff and organization. I’m enjoying it,” said Bush, who has rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
“So far, so good. I’m looking forward to the playoffs and whatever comes after that. I’m excited about it,” he said.
So are the fans.
Phil Chiaramonte, a 1993 graduate of Sandburg High School who now lives in Clarendon Hills, arrived at 9:30 a.m. and patiently waited nearly six hours for Bush to sign some items.
“I’ve been collecting autographs since the sixth grade. I’ve got (Joe) DiMaggio, (Michael) Jordan. Those are my top two. If I wasn’t waiting in line I’d be home watching TV,” Chiaramonte said.
“I think Bush is a good running back. He evens up the load with (Matt) Forte. I think they have potential to go all the way if they get everything together,” Chiaramonte said.
Jack and Mickie Nacker, of New Lenox, bought photos of Bush on the Internet for him to sign. Wearing a Jay Cutler jersey, Jack said he and his wife of 42 years enjoy getting autographs from players.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent of them are great to meet,” Jack said.
Back at the end of the line stood Wayne VanBeveren, 25, of Manhattan. Wearing a bright orange Walter Payton jersey, he arrived at 2:30 p.m.
“I like what Bush has done. It’s nice to have a running back who can pound through people. That’s something we haven’t had for a while,” VanBeveren said.
Like many fans, Phillips’ rental coordinator Sue Szeszol, of Chicago Heights, has fond memories of the 1985 championship season.
“My son, Eric, was supposed to be learning ‘The Our Father’ that season for his First Communion. Instead, he’s up in his room, listening to ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle.’ It’s stuck in my head,” she said, before nailing lyrics made famous by Jim McMahon and Steve Fuller.
“It was nice because we won the Super Bowl. I think the Bears can do it again if they don’t lose the momentum,” she said.