- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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ST. LOUIS -- They didn’t play like superheroes this weekend in St. Louis, so the Chicago Cubs elected to dress the part instead.
In an activity set to promote bonding and camaraderie -- and certainly not to celebrate a weekend when they were outscored 23-1 -- Cubs players dressed up in their favorite super hero costumes for the bus ride to the airport and the flight from St. Louis to Pittsburgh.
The Cubs were aware that their long-scheduled Superheroes Day didn’t fall on the best of weekends in the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo., early Friday morning at a screening of the new Batman movie.
“This has been planned and obviously that was a horrible situation in Colorado that happened,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Our hearts go out to all the families and the city (of Aurora). This is just a dress up. In our case it’s something we planned and it’s (to break up the monotony) and to keep things light.”
In spring training, Sveum was looking for some type of travel-day themes, similar to what the Tampa Bay Rays do under manager Joe Maddon. The Rays have gone with themes like matching blazers, all white clothes for trips to Miami, and a nerd theme that celebrates Maddon’s horn-rimmed glasses.
Sveum’s first ideas were to dress up in the jerseys of the players’ favorite football or hockey players, until Garza came up with his own idea.
“I had just taken my son to see the Avengers,” Garza said. “I looked in the outfield and I thought, ‘Let’s do a super hero trip.’ We just ran with it from there. We were supposed to do it a while back but he wanted to give guys more time to get costumes.”
Garza participated on some of the themed travel days during his days with the Rays.
“It’s kind of to have guys let loose, have a little fun,” Garza said. “It takes a little pressure off and adds a little embarrassment along the way. It gets you out of your own skin a little bit. When you are in a mask you can be whatever you want.”
Asked about going through the trouble of finding a costume and then wearing it for what amounts to a one-hour flight, Garza said he had a different plan.
“I’m going to wear this thing all night; go to dinner in it,” he said. “You don’t just buy it for an hour, you wear it the whole time.”
Not everybody stuck to the standard super hero theme. Notre Dame alum Jeff Samardzija dressed up as Jesus, while Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson might have won the prize for the most daring costumes. Baker dressed as team president Theo Epstein, while Johnson went as general manager Jed Hoyer.
Other costumes included Geovany Soto as one of the Ghostbusters, Bryan LaHair as Super Mario, manager Dale Sveum as Hellboy, complete with red face paint, Joe Mather as Thor and new pitcher Jeff Beliveau as the Green Lantern, a costume he inherited from Rafael Dolis, who was sent down earlier in the day.
The Cubs held a "Superheroes Day", something in the works since the spring.