Behind The Plate: Ted Butterman And The Cubs Dixieland Band

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a warm Friday at Wrigley Field, the start of the Fourth of July weekend and Ted Butterman is struggling to make it through the crowds with his five man band.

“This is Eric Schneider, our clarinet player, Rob Curtis, banjo, Tom Barrett, trombone and Steve Hart on Tuba,” Butterman said. “I play trumpet.”

Together they are the Butterman Cubs Dixieland Band.

“Now we play Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” Butterman said. “We used to play all the games.”

In their 34th year, the band has become as much a staple at Cubs games as hot dogs and Old Style.

80-year-old Ted Butterman says he debuted the band in 1982, a day he recalls Fergie Jenkins was on the mound and the Cubs shut out the Mets 5-0, a win for the team and for the newest addition to the Friendly Confines.

The quintet clad in their blue pinstripe blue uniforms even plays private events. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

The quintet clad in their blue pinstripe blue uniforms even plays private events. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

“The first couple of games when we first started playing out here they’d never heard anything like that before, we added to the ambiance of the park, brought a smile to a lot of people’s faces even though the Cubs were losing,” said Butterman.

Since then, he estimates he’s played nearly 3,000 games in front of the park, under the marquee, pregame and in between innings throughout the stadium.

“We only have a minute 20 seconds to play during the game, so we have to give it our all for a minute and 20 seconds,” he said.

Butterman is retired now but still loves playing for the masses, despite the early season elements. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Butterman is retired now but still loves playing for the masses, despite the early season elements.
(Credit: Lisa Fielding)

His repertoire: 560 songs, both Dixieland and Swing genre.

“Anybody wants to hear anything, they just shout it out and we play,” he said. “We just happen to know them all.”

Butterman is retired now but still loves playing for the masses, despite the early season elements.

“There was a game we played 20 years ago, when the wind chill was minus 19,” he laughed.

The band's repertoire: 560 songs, both Dixieland and Swing genre.(Credit: Lisa Fielding)

The band’s repertoire: 560 songs, both Dixieland and Swing genre.(Credit: Lisa Fielding)

The quintet clad in their blue pinstripe blue uniforms even plays private events, BBQ’s, pool parties and they’ve even played five funerals, but Butterman’s favorite venue will always be Wrigley Field.

“I just love being out there,” he said. “I love playing for the crowds. As long as they want us, as long as they feel there’s a niche for us, we’ll be here.”

For more information, visit www.dixieswing.com/cubs.html.

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