An arborist, an engineer, an economics professor, a school psychologist and the owner of a private criminal defense practice were all together beyond the right-field ivy at Wrigley Field, fending off questions from the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond," and it was just like old times.
Ten years earlier, four of them had graduated together at Illinois State University: Tim Ascher, Ryan Cadagin, Laura and Jamie Gladfelter. Kate, the engineer, is from Columbus, Ohio, and "married into the college group." This was her first Cubs game, and for all of them a perfect gathering.
"My grandpa was a member of the diehard Cubs fan club that he founded himself, so I grew up watching Andre Dawson and Shawon Dunston and just love being back here," Tim said in an email to MLB.com. "It reminds me of my childhood. It's a lot of fun."
Now that "Bucks" has just celebrated its milestone 50th overall episode -- spanning 24 of the 30 Major League Baseball parks and doling out $17,945 in winnings over less than a year -- it is time to return to Chicago's north side for No. 51. Those five fans are the willing participants in this one, and you'll have to watch the video to see how they fared.
"A sunny summer day at Wrigley for a Cubs game with old friends is about as good as it gets," Jamie said, "but to throw in the possibility for some free money via trivia really pushed it over the top."
"Bucks" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel and you might be a part of it this season when you least expect it. Fans at the ballpark interact with MLB.com's studio through the magic of technology in conjunction with game action inside. Shows are posted each Tuesday and Thursday. In creating a new experience for fans, MLB.com is giving people a chance to earn bucks while they spend bucks at the ballpark.
Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct and win money. Get the question wrong and it's a strike. Three strikes and you're out.
The questions' difficulty and value increase with the number of outs in the on-field action: $5 easy questions to start, $10 medium-difficulty questions after one out, $20 hard questions after two outs. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
Cross the $100 mark during the show and it's time for "Say The Word" powered by Ford SYNC. You can wager any part of your bank on the next question, which is asked each episode by 2014 Hall of Fame candidate Frank Thomas. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
The Gladfelters are the two of the five who now reside in Chicago, where Laura is a school psychologist and Jamie an economics professor. They had stayed at Illinois State for graduate school until 2005 and were married in 2007. Cadagin went to law school at Southern Illinois University after 2003, and Tim, originally from Springfield, Ill., and now in Columbus as an arborist, moved away and met Kate, marrying her in 2008.
"I'm a Cubs fan by marriage, but I am glad to be one," Kate said. "It's my first time in Wrigley Field so I'm super-excited. It's awesome. The field is beautiful. Everyone's been so nice around here. All the seating outside, it's really unique. I like it."
Tim's favorite feature of Wrigley: "The scoreboard ... and the fact it is still there." They sat in the bleachers that day, and when they will be back as a quintet there is anyone's guess. Clearly they made the most of this one, with a lasting video seen by all Cubs fans.
A "Bucks" record may have been set for the fastest answer to any question, when Cadagin, who owns the private criminal defense practice, responded quickly to explain which order was given in the movie "A Few Good Men."
"He answered 'Code Red' so quickly because he's just that damn smart," Jamie said.
"That's why he went to law school, right?" Kate said.
Five successful careers, five Cubs fans. And now veterans of "Bucks on the Pond."
"What can't we do?" Jamie said.
Topics covered in this episode include state abbreviations, Cubs All-Stars, "A Few Good Men," song lyrics, Cubs Opening Day pitchers, 1980s cartoons, Grammy Award winning bands, Julius Caesar, Cubs all-time leaders, comedians, relievers and human organs.
"I was a little skeptical, but everybody came together and it's great," Tim said of his "Bucks" encounter. "I couldn't be happier."
In addition to the Cubs, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Phillies, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Padres, Pirates, Tigers, Twins, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.