By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Once in the early 1980s I jumped into the back of a yellow cab and after I said “Shea Stadium please,” it went like this ...
Cabbie: “Sure ... Hey I know who you are.”
“Yeah, I’m a big fan.”
“Ah, I don’t think so.”
“Yep. Will you sign my book, I’ve been driving hack for 30 years and I have some big-name Broadway stars, singers and athletes in my book.”
“Ah, I think you got the wrong guy sir.”
“Look, I’m going to give it to my daughter when I retire ... either YOU sign my book OR I don’t take you to Queens.”
“OK, but who do you think I am?”
“Quit playing coy ... you are Alan Bates, you shaved your beard.”
Half an hour later the cab pulled up to the press gate at Shea.
I paid, I tipped and yep I signed his book “All the best, Alan Bates.”
Bates it turned out was a big-time English actor ... he appeared in Zorba The Greek, Georgy Girl, An Unmarried Woman, and The Fixer, in which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The name did not ring a bell, but I had seen three of those movies. He was also in Nijinsky, Far From the Madding Crowd, King of Hearts and The Rose with Bette Midler.
Besides appearing on the stage, he was also a TV star in England.
That was the only time I had ever been mistaken for anyone famous ... until last week ...
* * *
On a trip to Grand Rapids, Mich. we were near a hospital area when a busy nurse wearing green scrubs stopped in her tracks and then disappointedly said “Oh ... I thought you were Bill Steffen.”
“Bill Steffen? Nope. Sorry. Not me. Who is Bill Steffen?”
He’s on TV.
* * *
Three hours later seated at The Outback -- yes they still exist in Michigan -- a woman waived across the dimly lit restaurant.
We looked around. We were the only table occupied.
As she approached her eyes grew wide and she said “You’re not Bill Steffen.”
The woman explained that Bill Steffan has been a local TV weather man for the past 42 years ...
* * *
That night we cranked up the Google machine and tracked down Steffen, who is the Chief Meteorologist, WOOD-TV/WOTV4/WXSP. Initially we thought he was really old, compared to someone as ah young and dashing as myself.
* * *
The next night we went to the class-A Wisconsin Whitecaps game against Quad Cities and saw Danny Pinero (Toronto, Ont.) and OF Cole Bauml (Meunster, Sask.) and standing in line a man did a double take and then hung his head.
“Sorry, sure, I thought you were Mr. Steffen, he’s a ...”
“Yep, I have heard of him.”
* * *
Checking out Bill Steffen’s Twitter account his last tweet (or was it a retweet) was about Manitoba ... and polar bears.
bill steffen Retweeted ☀️Kyle Underwood ☀️
The polar bears have moved off the ice unto the land. Churchill, Manitoba on the Bay has had a high this month of 87 and a low of 37.
It’s been four or five days now.
We’ve read what a decorated member of the community Bill Steffen is.
How he has been the chairman of the Red Cross Heroes Campaign, served on the marketing committee and board of directors for the Gerald R. Ford Boy Scout Council, the advisory board for Youth for Christ. He has worked with Math Counts Competition and the Science Olympiad, is an honorary chair of fundraising for the Grand Rapids Planetarium.
My friends have passed it around.
And the verdict is, Mr. Steffen, is a handsome lad.
So, if you are going to be in western Michigan ... trust Bill Steffen.
If you are going to have a double some where, I am honoured that is Mr. Bill Steffen.
It is an honour to be mistaken for Bill Steffen.