Chicago Cubs: Our conversation with fan favorite David Ross
By Jake Misener
We sat down with the Chicago Cubs’ David Ross this week to talk baseball, his new partnership with Raisin Bran, Dancing with the Stars and the retired life.
Since the confetti settled across the Windy City the day of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series championship parade, life has looked different for former big league catcher David Ross.
He says he might even be busier now than when he was playing, thanks to a full family schedule, a front office role with the Cubs and his preparation for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.
Ross also recently partnered with Kellogg’s and new Raisin Bran Crunch Apple Strawberry to surprise fans near the Southport neighborhood in Chicago
Not even six months after he helped bring a championship to Wrigley Field, Ross is still a fan favorite. It’s the love of the fans that still sticks out in his mind when he looks back at his last season in baseball. It’s that same love that led him to his partnership with Kellogg’s.
"For me, that was the coolest experience. I don’t know if I’ve ever been the guy who’s ever done any true commercials. When Kellogg’s approached me with this, with Raisin Bran, outside of Southport. Just kind of surprising fans with a bowl of cereal in the morning, I’m like ‘what better way to do it?’ I’m a simple guy. I feel like Chicagoans are simple people. Just to approach them like that, see the looks on their faces, really I got a lot out of it. I’m sure the fans got a lot out of it, but I think I got the most out of it because it just made my day when you saw the shock on these fans’ faces."
Still humble, happy with his life
Grandpa Rossy, who emerged as a major clubhouse presence in his two years with the Cubs, continues to deflect any credit fans try to give him. His selflessness, though, it what made – and continues to make – him so endearing to fans around the city.
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From his leaping into Jake Arrieta‘s arms in Cincinnati after the last out was recorded in the first no-hitter Ross had ever caught to hitting his 100th career homer at Wrigley; Ross left his mark on the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
When asked which was sweeter for him: catching Arrieta’s no-no or taking Andrew Miller deep in Game 7, Ross laughed it off, offering his own favorite memory from his swan song.
"Our last home game was Sunday Night Baseball at home against the Cardinals at Wrigley. I got a standing ovation from the crowd. Yadier Molina walked out in front of home plate and gave me that moment from the fans. They did that twice … My second at-bat, I hit a home run and the place went absolutely crazy. The energy in the stadium … I was almost in tears in the box just feeling the energy and love from the people of Chicago. That’s where my heart was, my favorite moment. Emotionally, when a fan base falls in love with you for who you are and how you play, and being a part of that group with those guys, it just makes you feel really, really special."
It’s hard to explain why fans have fallen in love with Ross in virtually every city he played in. He only appeared in more than 100 games once in a single season, was a career .229 hitter and largely occupied backup roles behind the dish.
With his playing days behind him, even Ross himself says he can’t tell you why fans love him so much.
"They (fans) say, ‘I love you.’ I really appreciate it, but I’m still trying to figure out why. I just want to do more of whatever it is that I’m doing to come across to fans like that. I think it’s the team. When I look back at our team, it’s such a lovable team. It’s so hard not to like that team and that group of guys. They’re so genuine and they care about one another. I feel like I was just the old guy everyone rooted for in the mix of such a good group."
Enjoying the little things in life
Ross is always on the move. And it’s not just for his commercials or dance rehearsals, either. For the first time ever, he’s preparing for a spring break trip with his family. He spent a weekend in late February driving across the state of Florida for his daughter’s volleyball tournament.
In his words, he’s just loving being “the dad that packs the cooler,” and piles into the car to go to a ball diamond or gym. These are things that most parents take for granted, or even see as an inconvenience in their busy days. But that’s not the case with Ross. He’s thankful to have the opportunity after the rigors of a big-league schedule for the last decade-plus.
That’s not to say his competitive fire is burnt out quite yet; he still finds his youthful enthusiasm taking hold from time-to-time.
"I pretty much took over the practice of my daughter’s softball. It just felt like I was running the whole thing. I said I would just help out, but I just had so much energy and I loved it. The girls, they listen, a lot better than the boys do. They’re just excited to get a high-five or a smile out of you. I had so much fun and was running the bases at the end of practice with them and challenging them. Man, I’m just having an absolute blast."
Putting on his dancing shoes
After dipping his toes in the water on vacation with his family, Ross will take part in the upcoming Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars. He and his partner, Lindsay Arnold, will look to defy the odds and capture a Mirror Ball trophy.
When we spoke, he had just wrapped up rehearsal – which, he has learned, cannot be called ‘practice.’ Sore ankles, calves and feet notwithstanding, Ross says he’s looking forward to the opportunity and getting to learn from the experience.
The couple’s team name, Lady and the Gramp, was wildly popular on social media as the news broke last week. As competitive as Ross his, however, he says he’s motivated by more than winning this time around.
"I’m gonna try to be the best version of me I can be. That’s all I can control. I’m working my tail off. I’ve got a phenomenal coach. She is absolutely great. She pushes me, she doesn’t take any crap from me – little bitty fireball. I’m really having a good time with it, gonna enjoy it. I’m doing it for so many other reasons than just trying to win … doing it for myself, to challenge myself. A little bit of a distraction from baseball. I want to show my kids its OK to try something you’re not good at and who knows what might happen."