(CBS) — In the 1920s, Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley had a problem: chaos at his north side ballpark. Many of the Wrigley Field ushers did not want to work. Some were pickpockets preying on fans.

Andrew T. Frain, who only had a grade school education, saw an opportunity. Frain, 24, convinced Wrigley he could have honest, hard working ushers.

Andy Frain.


Frain recruited guys from his Back of the Yards neighborhood and they cleaned up the ballpark.  Wrigley was so impressed, he gave Frain $5,000, and a Chicago institution was born.

Women eventually joined the ranks of Andy Frain ushers.

Andy Frain ushers were once everywhere in Chicago: ballparks, racetracks, conventions, and concert halls. They worked parades, dinners for American presidents and even served as pallbearers and prom dates. The ushers, most of them teenagers, came from every corner of the Chicago area and learned lessons that have lasted a lifetime.

Bob Hope with an Andy Frain usher.

Then suddenly Andy Frain ushers were gone.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams, himself an Andy Frain usher in the 1970s, explains why the job has had such a profound impact on him and many others long after they stepped out of the quasi military blue and gold uniform.

Reporter Jim Williams (right) was an Andy Frain usher.

As one former usher, now in his 50s,  put it: “I am who I am because of the time I spent in Andy Frain.”