Ted Simmons was a Major League Baseball player, who went to the University of Michigan during the off-seasons…
Simmons was attempting to travel home to family for the weekend from the University of Michigan with his then-girlfriend (now wife) Maryanne, and the young couple did something that was completely natural at the time.
Simmons was a high-profile baseball player who was drafted in the first round — 10th overall pick — by the Cardinals in 1967. Though he signed with St. Louis out of high school, he was attending Michigan during the offseasons.
It was in November or December, as he remembers it.
As Ted and Maryanne hitchhiked alongside U.S. 23 North coming out of Ann Arbor, a van pulled over. Ted helped Maryanne into the front passenger’s seat, then climbed into the back.
“I get in, all the seats had been removed, and there was a full drum set in the back.” As the van rumbled off into the night, Simmons told the driver how much he appreciated him stopping.
“Where ya going?” the driver asked.
“Detroit,” Simmons replied.
The driver explained he was headed for Interstate 96, but then he was heading west toward Lansing instead of east toward Detroit.
“I’ll drop you, and you can pick up another ride from there,” the driver said.
That settled, Simmons mentioned the drum set and wondered if his ride was a musician.
“What’s your name?”
“I remember it like it was bigger than life,” Simmons says. “He was just starting out back then.”
, Seger had just finished playing Ann Arbor’s famed Canterbury House and had another date scheduled in Lansing.
“He wasn’t huge yet,” Simmons says. “Then he got huge. It was just super for anybody to stop.
“It could have been a serial killer.”
Except, this story has a far better ending. Simmons went on to have a 21-year career with the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves, and he has a very cool story to tell about Bob Seger.