HOOPESTON, Ill. — While some athletes may cancel a scheduled appearance due to flight problems, Ben Zobrist hopped in his car to make it to a central Illinois sports shop.
Scheduled to fly in Friday for a Saturday appearance at Bricks and Ivy Sports in Hoopeston, bad weather throughout the Midwest caused Zobrists’ flight out of Nashville to be canceled.
Co-owner Emily Brown said she was surprised Zobrist elected to get into his car to make it instead of just canceling.
“He was worried if he booked another flight it would just get canceled,” Brown said. “He didn’t want to miss it, so he got into his car.”
Zobrist then started on the 350-plus mile journey from Franklin, Tennessee, where he resides, and ended resting in Indiana overnight. He made it to the store, which is roughly 100 miles from his hometown of Eureka, before the event started at noon.
When he arrived, Brown said he never complained about the journey through sleet and snow.
“He made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal,” Brown said. “’Well I have a job to do, so I got here’” he told us.”
For the family-owned and operated sports memorabilia shop, it wasn’t the first time they’ve had a famous athlete come in to sign. But with over 800 attendees, Zobrist’s appearance was their largest ever.
“He took time and had conversations with everyone in line, Brown said. “What a great guy.”
The event was only supposed to last until 1:30 p.m., but Zobrist stayed an extra hour.
Afterwards, he had pizza with his brother at Monical’s and headed out of town.
Brown said his game-winning World Series hit had an effect on the names of young Hoopeston residents.
“There’s lots of kids named after him,” Brown said. “Lots of Bens, little girls named Zoey.”