With retired Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross and Chicago’s own Mr. T among the celebrity lineup for the new season of “Dancing with the Stars,” we’re gonna keep an eye on their progress each week.
Retired Cubs catcher David “Grandpa” Ross came out swinging Monday night on “Dancing with the Stars,” landing a score of 28 out of 40 for his supercharged cha-cha with pro partner Lindsay Arnold.
Dancing across the ballroom to the strains of “Go Cubs Go,” Ross (in a bedazzled Cubbie uniform) showed plenty of style and charisma and flashed that endearing smile of his as the ballroom audience, many wearing Cubs caps and waving Cubs pennants, went wild, their cheers all but drowning out the live musical accompaniment.
In his pre-dance video package, Ross (during rehearsals) was all smiles and comic remarks when it came to his dancing talents. His teammates Anthony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta Skyped in with plenty of “encouragement,” with the pitcher praising Ross for “having the b—s to do the show.” In a touching moment, with his tiny daughter by his side in the rehearsal studio, Ross in voiceover proclaimed, “My goal is to show my kid it’s okay to try something you’re afraid of.”
Following the dance, Ross asked his fans via Twitter to please vote for him and Lindsay:
Hahahaha, can’t believe how much fun I had! Don’t want to stop, so please vote for us. Here is… https://t.co/SIzzWsn9xX
— David Ross (@D_Ross3) March 21, 2017
Later in the night, Mr. T and his pro partner and two-time “DWTS” champ Kym Herjavec burst onto the dance floor in a cha-cha heavy on military precision, but light on the correct steps. Decked out in fatigues and sporting his signature avalanche of gold chains around his neck, Mr. T owned the dance floor, though the judges awarded him only 20 points out of 40. “The ‘T’ stands for tenacity and trying your hardest,” head judge Len Goodman said in his remarks following Mr. T’s performance. A smiling but frustrated Judge Carrie Ann was cheering the former pro-wrestler-turned actor amid her remarks, saying, “It as soooo good, but you had too many mistakes.” Mr. T took it all in stride with a smile.
Showing off plenty of sizzling moves in an opening number reminiscent of the highway traffic scene from the Oscar-winning movie “La La Land,” the cast of season 24 of “Dancing with the Stars” made their supercharged entrances on Monday night’s premiere in grand style.
With black limos flanking a red carpet, half the cast of celebrities emerged from the vehicles without missing a beat where they were greeted by their respective pro partners. Mr. T pushed open the rear doors of a black van, very much in tune with the vehicle from “The A-Team” TV series on which he starred in the 1980s.
The remainder of the cast made their entrances inside the sound stage where the show is presented, including Cubs catcher David Ross who emerged in a bedazzled Cubs uniform in front of a mini “wall” covered in ivy, and showing off a bit of his fancy footwork. Ross is the first MLB player to participate in the reality show since it debuted in 2005.
The show marked the series’ 400th episode, and the return full-time of head judge Len Goodman, who was joined at the judging table by Julianne Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.
The evening’s highest score went to Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles and her pro partner Sasha Farber, who earned a 32 out of 40 for their tango. Biles’ Olympic teammate Laurie Hernandez won the mirrorball trophy last season. The show has had a slew of Olympians take home the trophy, including speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno (season 4), figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi (season 6), gymnast Shawn Johnson (season 8), and pairs ice dancer Meryl Davis (season 18). Olympic track and field gold medalist Maurice Green finished 5th on season 7. Olympic bronze and silver figure skating medalist Nancy Kerrigan is also competing this season on the show.
Close behind Biles on the leaderboard is NFL free agent running back Rashad Jennings (most recently with the New York Giants) whose performance with his pro partner Emma Slater garnered high praises from the judges’ panel, including Julianne Hough who remarked “it’s the best dance of the night so far.” Jennings is the latest in a long line of NFL stars who have competed on the show and emerged as champs: Hines Ward (season 12), Emmitt Smith (season 3), Donald Driver (season 14). Jerry Rice finished in second place on season 2. Lawrence Taylor finished in 8th place on season 8.
One couple will be eliminated in next week’s episode. “Dancing with the Stars” airs Monday nights at 7 p.m. on ABC.