Even to those who have never travelled there, Chicago, Illinois brings to mind many timeless and widely-known clichés that seem to shape and define the city in the collective psyche: Chicago deep-dish pizza. The Sears Tower, The Jazz Age, even Oprah Winfrey and her broadcasting dynasty are Chicago staples. But there are many other contemporary icons of “The Windy City” that are not necessarily international household names, icons that are still defining and altering their life and their legend.
Wayne Messmer, a renowned public address announcer for the Chicago Cubs, is one of these legendary symbols of contemporary Chicago. Though he is a man of many talents, his transition into singing is what would bring him the most acclaim. A member of the National Fraternity for Men in Music, Messmer’s vocal renditions of the national anthem have been inciting patriotism prior to Chicago sporting events for years. For three decades, his unforgettable voice has paid homage to “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to the games of the Chicago Cubs, Blackhawks, White Socks, Wolves, and Chicago Sting. Perhaps his most acclaimed and infamous performance occurred at the start of the Gulf War, when his singing of the anthem was almost overpowered by the roar of the patriotic crowd at the 1991 NHL All-Star Game. This performance is still considered one of the greatest moments in hockey history.
While his trademark, flourished singing may be what he is best known for, Messmer has diverse accomplishments in many other facets of Chicago-area life. Early in his career he was a broadcaster for channel WYTZ, reading the news on “Barsky Morning Zoo”. He has also worked as an actor, narrator, motivational speaker and much more. He is currently part-owner of the Chicago Wolves, and recently, after deciding to scale back on his vocal duties at Wrigley Field, he has moved on to pioneer a jazz program on WDCB radio called “Homelife Jazz with Wayne Messmer”.
Sadly, his fade from singing may be partially attributed to an unforeseen act of violence that occurred in 1994 in Chicago’s West Side. Sitting in his car, Messmer was mugged by 15 year old Shai Hopkins, and after surrendering his money, he was senselessly and ironically shot in the throat by the assailant. Thankfully, he survived the attack, but had to endure months of therapy before he was able to resume his duties as an announcer or singer.
Today Messmer is alive and well and living in Chicago with his wife, Kathleen. If ever in “The Windy City”, sports and musical enthusiasts may want to tune into “Homelife Jazz” on WDCB Public Radio on Sunday nights to enjoy a little music while enjoying their quintessential deep-dish pizza. Only time will tell if Messmer, who is lovingly dubbed “The Voice of Wrigley Field” will gain the same timeless notoriety that will forever link him to Chicago lore.
- Interview with Messmer on Grace Matters radio show
- Messmer’s Induction into the Signature Sinfonian at Wesleyan University
- Meet the WCDB Staff: Wayne Messmer
- The Heckler Interview: Wayne Messmer
- Wayne Messmer
- National Anthem Drowned Out By Cheers
- 10 Best NHL All-Star Moments
- Home Life Radio
- Wayne Messmer Fan Club
- Wayne Messmer Joins College Radio