The other day, I was at a gas station here in Wadena when I heard a voice, then saw a person who looked like Art Linkletter! I got a closer look, then thought, “Impossible - Mr. Linkletter died in 2010.” This reminded me of four times in my life when, not only did I see a celebrity, but actually had some physical contact!
Carl Eller - Minnesota Vikings and member of the Football Hall of Fame
It was 1978, which was the last year that Carl Eller played for the Vikings. My sister and brother-in-law lived in Mankato, where I would always visit during the Vikings training camp in early August. To this day, after four Super Bowl routs and countless heartbreaking losses, I remain a huge Vikings fan! Attending training camp was a way for me to get motivated and ready since I also played football. I just got done watching practice, and it was a hot day in August. Back in 1978, Vikings training camp was much different than it is today. There were hardly any spectators. So, getting autographs and pictures was not much of a problem. That is, until I got in Carl Eller's way! He was in front of all the other players - leading them on the way back to the locker room. I had pen and paper in hand, and I got ready by positioning myself partly in his path. As he grew closer, I more than half expected him to swiftly grab my pen and paper, scribble his autograph and not miss a step. Instead, I got bumped off the path, luckily without falling. There was a collective sigh from the other 14 spectators, and my older sister became irate! I just hoped that she wasn't going to go in from behind and do a blind side clip on Carl Eller! One of the fans said, “Look what happened to that kid!” All of a sudden, Harry Peter "Bud" Grant was in front of me; he grabbed my pen and paper and signed his name. Everyone gathered around and he tried to explain that when it is a hot day, the players just want to get to the showers. It was just like Bud Grant to to diffuse the situation by taking care of all the fans and his player at the same time. I did eventually get Carl Eller's autograph and remain a fan of his today, but my sister is still ticked off. What I learned: stay out of Carl Eller's way!
Dorothy Hamill - Figure skater and gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics
In the fall of 1993, Dorothy Hamill had recently taken over the Ice Capades. My wife and I took our infant son to meet up with her brother’s family in Duluth. We had seen the Ice Capades bus, but were not planning to attend the show. Instead, our young families went to a playground, toured the S.S. William A. Irvin, and watch the cool Aerial Lift Bridge raise up and down. We then went a local gift store to do some shopping. The shop was set up where I could push my son round and round in a big circle. After I became dizzy and my son had fallen asleep, I handed the stroller off to my wife so that I could explore the shop too. There were several displays and a number of blind corners in the shop. After a very short period of time, I heard my wife call out my name to come help her! I moved really fast, around a rack and “boom” - right into Dorothy Hamill! Her forehead hit my jaw and we we were both startled and quickly apologized to each other while acting as if nothing had happened! What I learned: Make sure to look around every corner so you you don't run into Dorothy Hamill!
David Ortiz - Minnesota Twins, but now with the Boston Red Sox
My nine-year-old son, Collin and his best friend, Peter, attended an autograph session at the Metrodome prior to a Twins game in the summer of 2001. Peter's grandfather was along and we took shifts waiting in line with the boys to get autographs. It was grandpa’s turn, so I wandered off for a bit to people watch and check to see which autograph lines were the shortest. About 20 minutes went by and the boys and grandpa were no longer where I left them. All of a sudden I heard, “Dad!” I did a quick 180 and saw a big red thing that turned out to be David Ortiz's chest! I did a face plant right into him. Stepping back to see, I was shocked as he repeatedly said “it’s all right, it’s all right,” and went to his area to sign autographs. What I learned: do not get in front of David Ortiz!
Pamela Anderson - C.J. Parker of the hit television series “Baywatch”
It was a pleasant morning in Maui in November, 2003. I was attending a software awards conference and my wife, Pam, was able to come along. Many of my co-workers and their spouses were enjoying the island’s offerings. My wife and I decided to take a walk before some of the scheduled events began. Mid-way through our walk, I noticed my right shoe had become untied. We were on a walking path close to the ocean and had just come to an intersection. I bent down with my left knee on the path to tie my shoe. At the same time, a person with brown legs stopped right in front of me. I did not think I knew the person, so I figured that she would move on. I finished tying my shoe and quickly stood up. The person had not moved and was holding what I determined was a map of some kind. As I stood up, I caught her under her left elbow and moved both of her arms to the right. I could not help but notice she was wearing a sporty tangerine outfit. I did not know the person, but it looked an awful lot like Pamela Anderson! I apologized for bumping into her, and she assured me with a “that’s okay!” My wife and I continued our walk and I said that I thought that was Pamela Anderson, and my wife said, “No it wasn't.” I said, “Yes, I think it was.” We returned to the beach area where all of my co-workers gathered. The first thing that they asked was, “Did you see Pamela Anderson!?” I said, “Yes, it fact I sort of bumped her by accident!” Word got around and for the remainder of the day I repeated the story several times and made lots of new friends! What I learned: always keep one shoe untied on the beach because you might run into Pamela Anderson!
Almost 10 years have gone by since my last run-in, but I will never forget my four celebrity run- ins!