Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Pugs Moran

This week's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview is with a native Chicagoan who got his start here in his hometown, but has been down in Dallas for the last ten years. His name is Pugs Moran.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, March 31

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1961, the Cubs traded Moe Drabowsky to the Milwaukee Braves. Moe should have been a star in Chicago. He had it all; a live arm, a great personality, and a birth certificate that proved he was born in Poland. In a city with the biggest Polish population outside of Warsaw, Drabowsky could have been a legend.

Unfortunately, he never quite put it together on the mound. He won 13 games for the Cubs in 1957, and then won only another 17 games the next three seasons combined. After playing in Milwaukee a year, and then bouncing around to Cincinnati and Kansas City, Moe landed in Baltimore.

At the age of 30, Moe finally blossomed. The Orioles moved him to the bullpen, and he became a key part of their World Champion teams in 1966 & 1970.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Coming this weekend

Tomorrow morning I'll be posting a new Chicago Radio Spotlight interview. This week's interview subject is former Kevin Matthews and Bill & Wendy producer Pugs Moran--now a radio star in Dallas.

A new Father Knows Nothing column on Sunday will tell the tale of a dad trying to educate his youngsters with classic literature...only to terrify the bejesus out of them instead.

There will also be two new Cubs 365 stories, and the Just One Bad Century website will go back in time to this week in 1908 and 1945.

Have a great weekend!

Laundromat Reading

If you go into a Chicagoland Laundromat these days, keep a look out for the following flier...

Cubs 365, March 30

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1904, future Cub Ripper Collins was born. If his name sounds familiar, it should. He was mentioned in Cubs 365 just the other day as the man the Cubs acquired when they shipped off their best pitcher Lon Warneke in 1937.

His real name was James Anthony Collins, but everyone called him "Rip" or "Ripper." He said he got his nickname when, as a boy, he hit the team's only ball and snagged it on a fence nail, ripping its cover.

Collins was a star with the Cardinals, and to be fair, he got off to a good start with the Cubs too. Ripper was an all-star for the Cubs in '37, and played on the pennant winner in 1938, but he hit only .133 in the Series, and with Phil Cavarretta on the team, Collins was no longer wanted or needed.

The Cubs released him before the 1939 season…on his 35th birthday.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cubs 365, March 29

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1954, one of the greatest Cubs of all-time ended his association with the team in just about the worst way imaginable.

The Cubs were in spring training preparing for the upcoming season, and their manager was legendary Cubs great Phil Cavarretta. He had managed the team for a little more two seasons. In 1952, they had a decent year (5th place, 77-77, the only season of the decade anywhere near .500), and in 1953 it hadn't gone as well (7th place, 65-89), but the team had very little talent.

The Cubs were old and slow. Future Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner was toast. Hank Sauer, the MVP in '52, hit less than half as many home runs and RBI in '53 and was on the downside of his career. The starting catcher was a 36-year-old career platoon player named Clyde McCullough, who was so notoriously "dim" behind the plate one of his teammates said: "We used to swear he had to put his head down and see how many fingers he was putting down!" The ace of the pitching staff, Warren Hacker, was a 19-game loser. The best ERA in the bullpen was almost 5.00.

When Phillip Wrigley called Cavarretta into his office to talk about the upcoming season, Cavarretta leveled with the boss. He told him he only liked a few players on the team, including rookie shortstop Ernie Banks, and said he was still upset about the trades which had depleted his roster (like trading Andy Pafko and Johnny Schmitz to the Dodgers for four stiffs).

Wrigley listened intently to Cavarretta, and did what any owner would have done to a man who won an MVP and played in three World Series for him: He fired Cavarretta on the spot for being honest. Wrigley released a statement to the press: "Phil seems to have developed a defeatist attitude. We don't believe he should continue in a job where he thinks success isn't possible."

The man who had spent twenty three years of his life in a Cubs uniform was never associated with the team again. He finished his career with the White Sox.

Smiling Stan Hack managed the Cubs instead that year. His happy attitude led the team to a record of 64-90.

Defending Cliches

Eckhartz Press author Kim Strickland was mentioned in yesterday's Chicago Tribune. The article was called "Defending Cliches".

You can read it here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hidden Meaning of Flowers

This week's Suburban Dad contribution to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow is entitled "The Hidden Meaning of Flowers".

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, March 28

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1909, future Cub Lon Warneke was born. His nickname, "The Arkansas Hummingbird", was given to him by sportswriter Roy Stockton because of his "sizzling fast and darting form of delivery." And, of course, because he hailed from Arkansas. He wasn't just the owner of a great nickname, he was also a great pitcher--the best pitcher on the Cubs from 1930-1936, especially during the '32 and '35 pennant seasons.

Unfortunately, he was traded for first baseman Ripper Collins in 1937—even though the Cubs already had star 1B Phil Cavaretta on the roster. That will go down as one of their worst trades ever. Collins played two seasons for the Cubs, but Warneke averaged 15 wins a season over the next five years with the hated St. Louis Cardinals, and appeared in two all-star games.

The Arkansas Hummingbird came back to the Cubs during the war (1942-1943, 1945), but wasn't the same pitcher anymore.

After his playing career ended, Lon Warneke became a Major League umpire.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

25 Years Ago Today

Would have loved to see this...

More Love for "The Living Wills"

We'd like to thank Lydia Rypcinski, the membership services/marketing and events director of the Illinois State Bowling Proprietor's Association, for a nice mention of "The Living Wills" in their latest "Prarie State Proprietor" newsletter (on page 8, for those of you looking at your copy at home).

The bowling press has been very kind to our little novel. Apparently not too many novels these days take place in a bowling alley. As the Prarie State Proprietor mentions, "The Living Wills" has several chapters that take place in a real life Chicago bowling alley, Waveland Bowl.

Waveland Bowl has been quite supportive of our book too. If you order the book now from the Eckhartz Press website, you will even receive a very generous coupon from Waveland Bowl.

Order your copy today at the Eckhartz Press bookstore.

Cubs 365, March 27

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1905, future Cub Johnny Gill was born. His teammates called him "Patcheye". As you can tell by the picture, Johnny didn't wear a patch over his eye, although he must have at least once, because the nickname "Patcheye" stuck with him throughout his career. He was a Minor-League lifer, playing more than 23 seasons. He was one of those players that would be considered a 4A player today; too good for the minors (lifetime average over .320, with nearly 300 homers), but just not quite good enough for the big leagues.

Gill got a few cups of coffee in the show before coming to the Cubs in their pennant winning season of 1935 (in 1927 & 1928 with Cleveland, and 1931 & 1934 with the Senators), but he never had more than 69 at bats in a season. He got a whopping three at bats in 1935 for the Cubs.

Patcheye stayed with the team as a backup outfielder in 1936 (backing up Augie Galan, Frank Demaree, Ethan Allen) and got the longest look of his big league career that season. He made the most of it, hitting 7 homers in only 174 at bats. Unfortunately for Gill, that turned out to be the swan song of his major league career.

Johnny Gill didn’t even make it back to the bigs during the war era, though he was playing in the minors that whole time (in Portland). He retired as a player (from the minors) after the 1947 season, and then managed the minor league team in his hometown of Nashville Tennessee.

The "Down at the Golden Coin" Book Launch Party

We had a great turnout at the Down at the Golden Coin launch party. A fun time was had by one and all...

Author Kim Strickland (right) with "Down at the Golden Coin" cover designer Beth Selix Tomas.

Eckhartz Press publishers Rick Kaempfer & David Stern

"Down at the Golden Coin" is available at the Eckhartz Press store.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cubs 365, March 26

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1984, the Cubs made a late spring training trade that helped catapult them to a division title. A lot of attention has traditionally been given to the Rick Sutcliffe trade that occurred a few months later, but this March 26, 1984 trade to bring Bob Denier and Gary Matthews (for reliever Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz) to the Cubs was every bit as important to that first playoff appearance in 39 years.

All Dernier did was lead off, score 94 runs, steal 45 bases, and win a Gold Glove in center field. All Matthews did was become the undisputed leader of the team, score more than a hundred runs, lead the league in on base percentage, walks and sacrifice flies, and finish fifth in the MVP balloting.

Without Dernier and Matthews, and of course another ex-Phillie named Sandberg, the Sutcliffe trade wouldn't have meant a thing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

This week's Father Knows Nothing column is about my manly attempt at discarding a dead possum carcass.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, March 25

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1909, future Cub Dutch Leonard was born. He was one of the oldest players to ever suit up for the Cubs. Dutch was already 40 when the Cubs acquired the three-time All-Star in 1949.

The Cubs switched the knuckleballer to the bullpen, and in 1951, Dutch Leonard made the all-star team a fourth time, at the tender age of 42. Dutch Leonard's impressive 20-year big league career ended in 1953. He was 44 years old at the time; the oldest player in baseball. After his retirement, Dutch became the Cubs pitching coach for three seasons.