Harry Caray's Restaurant Group once again teamed up with sports stars from the past and present (and a former “Desperate Housewives” actor) for the newest addition to the Harry Caray family.
The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane, former Blackhawk Bobby Hull, former Bear Richard Dent, former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy and Harry Caray's waiter-turned-”Desperate Housewives” actor James Denton are investors in Harry Caray's Tavern at Navy Pier and opted to invest in the newly opened Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports Museum in Water Tower Place as well. Other investors in the 23,000-square-foot 7th Inning Stretch include the Bears' Brandon Marshall and the Cubs' Starlin Castro.
“When the deal came across the table, and there was an opportunity for us to become partners, we had to jump on it,” Marshall said alongside his wife on the red carpet at Tuesday's grand opening. “There are three things we said we wanted to do: No. 1, we wanted to become ambassadors to the community; No. 2, we wanted to be integrated in the business community; and No. 3, football. That's easy. I've been doing that my whole life.
“This is actually a dream come true for us to be a part of this, and we look forward to more opportunities down the line.”
Harry Caray's — named after the beloved baseball announcer who famously sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch at Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field — now has six locations. Levy, NBC sports personality Bob Costas and former Cub Ryne Sandberg were friends with Caray and partnered with Harry Caray's Restaurant Group CEO Grant DePorter in 2002 to buy the building that is home to the first location, Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse, which opened in the River North area in 1987. Sandberg is also an investor in that restaurant.
How did the restaurant group choose its celebrity investors for 7th Inning Stretch?
“Most were also partners in one or more of our other ventures,” DePorter said by email Friday. “We're very excited to have added a few more, like Brandon Marshall and Starlin Castro, who we approached to lend memorabilia to the Chicago Sports Museum, and when they learned about what we were doing they wanted to be involved.”
The Chicago Sports Museum includes memorabilia that goes well beyond a signed football or game-worn jersey. It's home to the infamous corked bat former Cub Sammy Sosa used during the 2003 season and, believe it or not, the stiches the Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw required the night his team won the Stanley Cup last year.
There are also a variety of interactive “Play with the Legends” exhibits featuring Chicago sports stars, all of whom filmed their portion of their respective games via green screen. You can shoot baskets as former Bull Scottie Pippen, defend the goal against Kane and pitch as former Cub Kerry Wood.
Dent pointed out Tuesday that this is the perfect place for a parents to take children while the other parent shops in the mall. Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen — who watched as his son played the game in which you try to avoid getting sacked by Dent — said Chicago needed a place like 7th Inning Stretch.
“Chicago is a huge sports (town),” Guillen said. “I think this idea (comes) at the right time.”
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