Last month we ran your best Mike Ditka stories, and at the same time solicited for more. Our readers came through, so here is the second volume of Mike Ditka stories. As always, if you have a story about Mike Ditka—or anybody else—that you think we'd find interesting, you can share it in the comments or send it on to Deadspin's tips e-mail.
These go back close to 50 years.
I was a caddy at Riverside Golf Club where around 1965 the Bears held their annual Golf Outing. I was in a group with Ditka and Butkus and a couple of other players. We got to the 17th hole, a par three at the time... and - sorry I can't be more specific - but either Ditka or Butkus hit three balls into the Des Plaines River. As we approached the bridge over the river an entire set of clubs was thrown into the water.
Somewhat related, a few years later when I attended St Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana (at that time the Bears training camp) several of us went to the nearby bowling alley... Rafferty's I believe... and noticed a pay phone had been dislodged from its station on the wall. When we asked what happened one of the employees said... and I will never forget it: "Oh that was Butkus after talking with Ditka (who was then with the Cowboys)."
I caddied for Mrs. Ditka at Hinsdale Golf Club in the late 90's. She doesn't wear shoes on the golf course. NO SHOES! Tootsies nestled nicely on the shorn fairway.
Here's the thing though. One time on caddy golf Monday, I took a page out of her book and removed my spikes. It was a treat! Felt so nice and I shot a 81 from the tips.
I worked with Ditka on a video shoot at his restaurant for a product he was endorsing. It was during the day before the restaurant opened so it was just us and some of his restaurant staff and we were set up in the second floor dining area. Ditka was pretty ornery off camera but sure could turn on the cheese when we needed him to deliver his lines.
Anyway, he had to switch from his Tommy Bahama shirt into a generic look-a-like #89 Bears jersey but his staff couldn't find one his size in the shop downstairs. Meanwhile, Ditka had already started changing in the middle of the restaurant and was now standing shirtless and getting increasingly pissed off about the slight delay. I walk upstairs and see his leathery, saggy torso in its full glory as he unfurls a torrent of obscenities about the situation. We got the shots we needed and I haven't been able to look at Ditka the same since.
My Dikta story dates back to 2006 [Editor's Note: He means 2007.] when the Bears were playing the Colts for the Super Bowl. My friends and I went to Miami to take in all the festivities the Super Bowl has to offer. My buddies and I spent the night checking out the various bars and restaurants when we happened upon a certain steakhouse where many celebrities were hanging out. My best friend had seen the restaurant on WGN prior to us leaving for Miami.
We walked up to the restaurant and the sidewalk was packed with fans and professional autograph seekers chasing athletes with mini helmets to be signed. We had seen a ton of athletes ranging from Anna Kournikova to Tom Brady.
As the night went on celebrities came and went then we saw DA Coach!. An over-served, messy-haired Mike Ditka and Jim Gray from NBC Sports emerge from the restaurant. The two men walk through the throngs of people out to the street to catch a cab. Just before a taxi arrives two attractive older (late 50's) women run up to Iron Mike, hug him and ask for his autograph, but not on paper. The one women unbuttons her blouse and Da Coach signs her ample bosom.
The two women are hanging on Mr. Dikta and persuade him to join them for more evening fun. Iron Mike coldly leaves Jim Gray standing in the street as he joins the two lovely ladies for an untold night of fun. Enclosed is a photo of a not so sober Dikta leaving the steakhouse.
In the summer of 1997 I was a 12 year old kid visiting family near LaCrosse, WI. My aunt herded a bunch of us kids and any available bikes into her minivan and we went to watch the Saints training camp for the day. None of us were Saints fans but it was more just something to do. I spent the day riding an adult woman's bike around the UW-LaCrosse campus watching practice and trying to get as many autographs as I could on the shirt I happened to be wearing (a Notre Dame t-shirt — embarrassing, I know). Most players were cool about it but some, rightfully so, refused to sign a ND shirt. At one point I see Ditka riding by in a golf cart and I haul ass after him on my woman's bike that is way too big for me. I catch him right as he is about to go into a building and ask for his autograph. He asks if I have a pen, but I realize I must have dropped it while pedaling after him. He looks me dead in the eyes and says "Not too fucking smooth, kid." He asks some guy walking by to borrow a sharpie and then signs my shirt.
About seven years ago I was at a bachelor party at the downtown Ditka's Steakhouse in Chicago. We were in a private room upstairs there were strippers doing lap dances in the corners of the room and everyone was drinking and having a good time. Ditka walks in and everyone cheers. He quiets the room with his hands (cigar between his fingers). He says: "Ï was in Vegas last week, and like this room...whatever happens there, stays there!" The guys in the room burst into a boisterous cheer and while they were cheering, he puts his hand on my shoulder, as I was sitting closest to the door where he walked in, and says into my ear: "Could that chick have anymore fucking silicone in her tits or what?"
I gave a big smile and said "No, coach, I don't think she could."
He patted my shoulder, turned, and left.
This past summer it was Mike Ditka day at Arlington Race Track in Chicago. We were up in the suites, and I'm walking to the bathroom and I see my buddy and Ditka walking down the same direction. He asks my buddy where the 'Goddamn bathroom is', and he shows him. I walk in as he enters a stall. He painfully fumbles w/ the lock for about 15 seconds, and then says, "Aww fuck it!" and goes into the next stall. He then proceeds to immediately fucking explode on the toilet. Giant, heavy vibration on an empty bowl. My buddy and I were shocked and extremely amused and ran out of the bathroom like two middle school kids.
I have eaten at Ditka's a few times. TWICE I have seen the bathroom attendant forced to take his lunch/dinner break meal in the bathroom. Yes, he was sitting there in the corner of the bathroom eating a burger while listening to and smelling an anus symphony. Gross.
In college (probably around 2002), I got a hold of Ditka's cell phone number from friend who's sister who worked for the Bears or something like that. The first time I got him on the phone, I made up something up about writing for the school paper and wanting to interview him. He didn't go for it and that was the end of the call but the beginning of a long string of drunken college phone calls to Iron Mike.
The funniest part of the whole thing was that every time I called him, literally 90% of the time, no matter what time of day, he'd pick up the phone: angry and wanting to straighten us out. It was great. One of the last conversations, which, I might I add, finely showcased Ditka's theatrical side, went something like this:
me - Coach Ditka?
Ditka - No, this is his psychiatrist (it was clearly him).
me - Oh, hey...can I talk to the Coach Ditka?
Ditka - No, you can't I'm taking all his calls now.
me - Really? Why's that?
Ditka- Because all you little pricks keep calling and you're driving the coach crazy! So he needs a psychiatrist! What do you think about that?!
His number eventually changed, but for a while Ditka's cell phone was probably the best party trick had had going the latter half of college, "you guys want to call Mike Ditka?
In 2003 I obtained Ditka's phone number from a friend who ran a car dealership who leased him a Chevy. Every single time me and a couple buddies went to a Cubs game or went out drinking, we would call him and politely invite him. He would say, "Pete, i appreciate the invite, but please stop calling me all the time." This went on all baseball season and the last time I spoke to him was a 2am call when I was hammered and just wanted to shoot the breeze. I called from my house phone, so he didn't recognize it was Pete again. He screamed "WHO THE FUCK IS THIS?" and I replied, "this is Mike Ditka". His reply was great. He said, "no you motherfucker , this is Mike Ditka, and I just fucked your sister, and now I'm getting ready to fuck your mother in the ass!!!" click.... Then the number was changed the next time I called. God Bless Mike
I used to see Mike Ditka at the Plaza Hotel in the oak bar room in the mid nineties. I've seen him on multiple times they're smoking cigars and drinking with two beautiful women by side on each time. One time I went up to Ditka and asked him a question and he just picked his head up and gave me a dirty look and a growl. After that when I would see him I would scream at him from the old Saturday Night Live skit da Bears. He was such a pompous ass.
Not all of the Ditka stories we got were funny/gross/weird/creepy/strange. While some of the above stories chronicle Ditka at less than his best, we also heard of numerous examples of him being kind and generous with fans:
I grew up in Niners territory as the only Bears fan for miles around. In fourth or fifth grade we got a class assignment to write a letter to someone we admired. I chose Ditka and sent him something along the lines of "Holy shit Payton is awesome, your defense is awesome, and you'll win the next ten Super Bowls!" (I probably included McMahon in there too — his punk attitude was super cool to a kid stuck in Catholic school.) I didn't ask for anything, but Ditka sent me an autographed picture of himself. I obviously still have it despite hating his politics and most everything I've heard from him since.
I have to say Ditka was great to us. We all went to Chicago for a buddy's bachelor party and ate at his steakhouse one night. He was walking around the bar meeting people and taking pictures. We got a photo as a group and one with just Ditka and the bachelor. A while later I realized I was half-cut out of the photo. I went and asked him if he would take another photo and he said sure and got up from his table and did it gladly. Great experience.
Some friends and I were having dinner at Ditka's restaurant one night in the city and happened to sit one table away from Ditka. He was having dinner with what looked to be family of his but he didn't seem too interested in what they were saying but the tv above our table had his attention. After finishing our meal my best friend and I decided to ask the coach for a picture with us. These were days before digital cameras and smart phones so all we had was a disposable camera. We had another friend take the pic and days later when the film was picked up from the photo store, Coach who was polite to us and agreed to take the shot stood up with his arms around us with us looking at the camera and he was looking at about a 45 degree angle to where the tv was. Thanks for the great pic coach!
My Aunt Betty went to his Oakbrook facility to celebrate her 75th with her Golden Girl Pals. As it goes, Ditka was there that Sunday night and came unannounced and took photos with the ladies. The old ladies ate it up and will continue to tell that story until they die... which should be anyday now