Last week as part of her “life without baseball” diary series, Sara Sanchez posted this entry which was about weddings, the story of one she attended earlier and another postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
At the top of Sara’s diary that day was the photo you see above. It was taken by James Keivom of the New York Daily News and made available to BCB through Getty Images. The metadata that came with the photo, that we didn’t publish in Sara’s diary, read:
Jennifer and husband Spencer McKenzie, of Iowa City, Iowa, before a New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs exhibition game at Yankee Stadium after their wedding this morning.
So that got me to wondering a few things. First, could these two have just dressed up and not really been married, just to have fun at Yankee Stadium? And if they really had been married that morning, were they still married in 2020? What became of them?
Well, you all know how I love a good sleuthing exercise. First, the photo was definitely taken before a game in New York Friday, April 3, 2009. It was, in fact, the very first game played at the new Yankee Stadium, an exhibition game between the Cubs and Yankees. The Cubs lost the game 7-4.
So that sets the stage for you. The names given are not that uncommon, so finding these specific people might not be so easy. Did they still live in Iowa? If not, where?
The internet, as you surely know, is a big place with lots of information. I located a LinkedIn profile of a woman named Jenna McKenzie who seemed to resemble the woman in the wedding photo. “Jenna” isn’t quite “Jennifer” but it seemed close enough to give it a shot, so I emailed her asking if that was indeed her in the photo, whether they were still together, etc.
I got a reply within two hours. It read:
Thanks for the email — this made my day. Funny thing, that is my brother Spencer and my sister-in-law Jennifer! I have cc’d her on this email.
Thanks again for the sleuthing and glad you reached out!
Paydirt! I had reached a close family member! Jenna sent me her sister-in-law Jennifer’s (“Jen”) email and I began corresponding with her. Yes, they did actually get married that day and then went to the Cubs/Yankees game. They’re still married — in fact, their 11th wedding anniversary will be next Friday, April 3. They now live in the St. Louis area — “enemy territory” as Jen put it — and have a son, who, as you’ll see below, is being raised right as a Cubs fan. Here’s their entire story as Jen wrote it to me:
Spencer and I met playing coed softball back in Iowa City. He was a former Texas League ball player and I, though a lifelong baseball fan, had never played softball in my life. He offered to help me learn how to hit and the rest was history.
He is a lifelong Yankees fan and I’m a fourth generation Cubs fan from Chicago. We quickly learned that we had a mutual enemy (the Mets) and we could enjoy games together — except the All-Star Game, which to this day is a point of contention. When we moved in together there was only one movie we both owned — Field of Dreams. Considering we met in Iowa over baseball we thought it was pretty fitting. We’ve had several great trips to Dyersville!
We traveled to several places to see games in different stadiums. Our first trip was to Milwaukee to watch the Cubs vs. Brewers with friends, our second a trip to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play. In all we’ve seen games at 13 different major league stadiums and hope to see them all some day.
We were engaged in January 2007. Because we were from different areas, we couldn’t decide where to hold our wedding, and kept putting it off. One day there was an announcement that the Yankees were going to host the Cubs as they opened their new stadium. I can’t remember who made the suggestion first, but we knew that night that we were going to get married, then be at that game.
We got hitched at the county clerk’s office in Manhattan early afternoon on April 3, 2009, then took pictures through the city to celebrate the marriage. We then took some photos outside the new Yankee Stadium before enjoying the game and the fun atmosphere of the night.
While living in St. Louis, neither of us are technically in network for our favorite teams, so we get the MLB streaming package and are able to watch nearly every game we want to all summer. Like all baseball fans, we look forward to October playoff games, though opening day is the best day of the year. Though we are not Cardinals fans, we do appreciate how much the city loves their baseball team, and Busch Stadium is a great place to watch a game.
It’s a crazy time right now, but we hope that while we don’t have baseball to watch on TV, we can throw the ball around at home and teach our son (Nolan) to appreciate a baseball and glove. So far he’s having more fun swinging a bat at the dogs, but we will work on it!
Just like anyone else, we had a lot of plans for this summer that don’t seem to be possible because of the pandemic. There are worries about illness, jobs, bill paying, and concern for at-risk family members. It’s been fun to reminisce about the good times as the world around us seems to be in chaos. We are trying to be grateful for what we have and hope that we make it through this together as a family. Once again I hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time of social distancing.
I’m glad to have made the acquaintance of this family, and pleased to be able to report here on a fourth-generation Cubs fan. Here’s a recent photo of her family that Jen shared with me:
During this unprecedented time in human history, I’m happy to share with you the story of this lovely family who loves baseball as much as we all do. Thanks again to Jen for sharing her family’s story and all the best to her, Spencer and Nolan.