Friday, July 10, 2009


I can't believe I got sucked into again, but I'm leaving in a few hours to go camping with my family in Wisconsin.

Here's what happened last time.

The weather for this weekend calls for scattered thunderstorms.

I look at it this way. The bigger the disaster, the better the story. Right?

United Breaks Guitars

I'm not a big fan of country music, but this one hits home. It perfectly captures our beloved O'Hare Airport. It's pretty funny too. (Apologies to my friends who work at United Airlines)

Andre Dawson

Andre Dawson is celebrating his 55th birthday today. We've previously written about Andre several times at Just One Bad Century.

We've praised his mustache.

We've explained his nickname.

We've relived the 1989 season.

And we've played the Andre Dawson song.

Today we just wish him a happy birthday.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dad & Harry

I just got back from the cemetery (visiting Dad). While I was there, the boys and I went for a stroll to check out some of the other graves. My grandparents are there, an uncle, a family friend, and a bunch of other people they knew.

Imagine my surprise when we also stumbled onto the grave of Harry Caray. He's buried no more than a hundred yards away from Dad.

It's a nice gravestone that says "CARAY" and features a baseball, the caricature of Harry's "Holy Cow" logo, and says something to the effect of "Dedicated to baseball fans everywhere."

Eckhard Kaempfer

This is a picture of my father Eckhard Kaempfer.

We lost Dad exactly twenty years ago today.

I was hosting the "Best of Steve & Garry" on the Loop when I got a call on the hotline from my sister. She said I needed to come to the hospital immediately because something happened to Dad.

My good buddy Jim Wiser was there at the time of the phone call, and volunteered to finish the shift for me so I could drive out to the hospital in Arlington Heights. I'll never forget Jim for that because I arrived just moments before Dad lost consciousness forever.

Dad was only 54 years old when he died.

His name was Eckhard Kaempfer, but don't bother Googling him. He lived his entire life before the Internet era so there is almost no record of his accomplishments. I'll give you the Cliff Notes version. He was a German immigrant, but he was also a proud American. He served in the United States Air Force, and the US Army Corp of Engineers. He loved westerns and cowboys.

But his real love was soccer. He was one of the founders of the Green White Soccer Club, which still exists more than fifty years later. The current secretary of the club is my sister Cindy. She's another one of Dad's accomplishments; one of his very best. Add my brother Peter to that list. And I suppose I should include Dad's oldest child too; not a child at all anymore, nearly 46 years old.

After they declared Dad dead, and we all came home from hospital, I sat in the darkness and couldn't sleep. I picked up a pad of paper and just started writing. Some sort of a poem or song or essay about Dad came out. I wrote it more for my own therapy than for anything else. I wasn't going to show it to anyone. If I hadn't written it, I wouldn't have slept.

The next morning Mom woke up before I did, and found that pad of paper. She begged me to read it in church as Dad's eulogy. I didn't know what I was getting into when I agreed. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I honestly don't remember a word of it. After the funeral, I gave that pad of paper to Mom and I haven't seen it since.

I'll be stopping by the cemetery today (along with three little boys he never met) to see the stone in the ground with his name on it. It still startles me every time I see it: Eckhard Kaempfer, 1935-1989.

After that, I think I'll stop by Mom's and see if I can read that pad of paper again.

I think it's time.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is 53 years old today. Remember his immortal words: "There's no crying in baseball."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

E-mails, we get e-mails

"AS" responds to yesterday's post about the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'". She writes...

"“Just a city boy, born in raised in South Detroit …..”

There is no South Detroit. South Detroit is Windsor, Canada .

Which also reminds me of the old, cheesy 70’s song, The Night Chicago Died. The very first line is “ Dad dy was a cop….on the east side of Chicago.” Evidently, Daddy was on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan .

Little things like that bug me for some reason. It is interesting that Journey basically wrote that song backwards, which explains the odd formula and the chorus coming at the end of the song. I remember them singing Don’t Stop Believin’ at Rosemont Horizon during the 1981 Escape tour. Steve Perry pointed to Jonathan Cain and sang, “just a city boy, born and raise in South Chicago .” Evidently, Cain IS from Chicago (and was a survivor of the Our Lady of the Angels fire in 1958). A little useless trivia for you."

Thanks "AS." There's no-one who appreciates worthless trivia more than I do.

20 years ago this week

One of my all-time favorite shows debuted 20 years ago this week. Here are some highlights...

Hank O'Day

He was the umpire who made the controversial ruling that gave the Cubs the 1908 National League pennant.

Just six years later he was managing the team. Read the story of Hank O'Day here. He was born on this day in 1882.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ryan Dempster

How did he break his toe? Jumping over the railing to celebrate a Cubs victory.

He's out 3-4 weeks.

That is so Cubs.

Behind the Scenes at Arlington

Arlington Park hired us to produce funny "behind the scenes" videos for their website. Here are the first few. Long-time readers of this blog might recognize the star of these videos (Quinn Ella) as my former Half-Empty co-writer Dave.

Keep checking their website Arlington Park Live for more Behind the Scenes videos. There are a couple more in production as we speak.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'

There's a great look at the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" in this morning's Chicago Tribune.

The song was a top ten hit, but it is lasting way beyond everyone's expectations. After all, it came out in 1981. The Tribune analyzes.

The first All-Star game

It was played on this date in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

There were several Cubs on that first all-star team: Lon Warneke (who pitched 4 innings of one-run ball against the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig & Jimmie Foxx), Gabby Hartnett (who struck out in his only at-bat) & Woody English (who didn't get to play in the game).

Babe Ruth hit a two run homer in the bottom of the third, but it wasn't against Warneke. Cardinals pitcher Wild Bill Hallahan served up the dinger to the Babe.

The American League won 4-2.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted a new Father Knows Nothing column at NWI Parent. It's called "The Big Easy" and it's about the family trip to New Orleans.