Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Greg Bell

This weekend's Chicago Radio Spotlight has been posted. I interviewed the host of "When Radio Was", which airs locally here on WBBM-AM 780.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, April 14

On this day in 1970, the Cubs won their home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. No one remembers that it was the first game in Cubs uniform for Johnny Callison. Or that one of the players he was traded for, Dick Selma, pitched in relief and got pounded by the Cubs.

That game is remembered most for the out of control crowd that day. There were so many fights in the stands, the Cubs instituted new security measures. Among them, installing the screen at the top of the wall--to keep the fans from coming onto the field.

Before that was put up, drunken fans tried to tightrope the walls -- and, depending on their alcohol consumption, had a tendency to fall...hard. The reason the baskets are still up is that they have been incredibly successful at achieving their main goal: keeping inebriated fans from falling onto the playing field.

Despite what former ESPN commentator Joe Morgan has said, putting up that screen had absolutely nothing to do with getting more "cheap home runs" for Ernie Banks. Ernie only played one of his 18 Cubs seasons with the screen in place. Joe Morgan should know better.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Coming this weekend

Chicago Radio Spotlight returns tomorrow. I interviewed Greg Bell, the host of "When Radio Was", which airs locally on WBBM-AM 780.

On Sunday, a new Father Knows Nothing column will be about one of the most ridiculous arguments my boys have ever had (and they've had some doozies).

Also, as usual, the Just One Bad Century website will go back to this week in 1908 and 1945, and the Just One Bad Century blog will have a story about April 14 and April 15 in Cubs history as part of Cubs 365.

Have a great weekend!

Cubs 365, April 13

On this day in 1992, the Cubs were in Pittsburgh, while their home city of Chicago was undergoing one of the strangest events in it's colorful history.

250 million gallons of water were flooding the basements of Loop office buildings and retail stores because workers doing rehabilitation work on the Kinzie Street Bridge crossing the Chicago River didn't know about an abandoned tunnel beneath the river, and drove a pylon into the tunnel wall. The city had to evacuate the area because they feared electrical wires would short out. Trading at both the Chicago Board of Trade Building and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was stopped.

Workers attempted to plug the hole, by then about 20 feet wide, with 65 truckloads of rocks, cement, and mattresses. That odd vision of mattresses being thrown into the river is one that Chicagoans won't soon forget.

That Cubs team, however, was pretty forgettable.

While the city flooded, the Cubs got swept by eventual division champion Pittsburgh. Batting second for the Cubs and playing centerfield was a young player the Cubs had gotten from the Chicago White Sox in spring training—-Sammy Sosa.

Unfortunately for Sammy, his first Cubs season was a painful one. He missed most of June and July with a broken finger, and then returned only to break his ankle on August 6th. He missed the rest of the year.

At the time, the Sammy trade was considered so terrible by Cubs fans, that they speculated Cubs GM Larry Himes (a former White Sox GM) was actually a White Sox spy sent to infiltrate the Cubs organization. The player the Cubs traded away to get Sammy, George Bell, had a few very good years on the South Side while Sammy was struggling mightily on the North Side.

Those theories quickly vanished after Sammy hit 500+ home runs for the Cubs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Love Rock and Roll

#1 on this day in 1982, exactly 30 years ago...

Don't Call Me April 27, May 2, or May 18

This week's Suburban Dad contribution to the City Mom blog has been posted.

It's about our insane schedule.

Cubs 365, April 12

On April 12, 1933, the Wrigley Field crowd was undoubtedly happier than it has been since 1919. This was the first game at Wrigley Field since Prohibition had been repealed, although it would be another month before beer was officially available again.

The Cubs were the defending NL Champs, and the crowd of 25,000 witnessed a great pitching performance by Cubs ace Lon Warneke. He out-dueled the best pitcher in baseball, Dizzy Dean, throwing a 4-hit shutout against a Cardinals lineup that featured future Hall of Famers Joe Medwick and Frankie Frisch.

Warneke's battery-mate Gabby Hartnett was the hitting star for the Cubs that day. He got three hits, and knocked in two runs, as the Cubs won the game 3-0.

Neither the Cubs nor the Cardinals ended the season in first place in 1933. The National League pennant went to the New York Giants. They went on to beat the Washington Senators in the World Series.

Craig's List Post Seeks Bullpen Help for Cubs

This is pretty funny. CBS Chicago has all the details.

It's the handiwork of Jonathan Eig, one of the people that contributed to "Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting 'Til Next Year".

Not quite as funny as our birth announcement a few years ago ("Waitle Nex Yeare"), but that may just be envy talking...I can't believe JOBC didn't think of this first.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Living Wills" on the radio

A week or two ago I was on the Steve Cochran show discussing my book "The Living Wills", my new publishing company Eckhartz Press, and a few other things.

They sent me the audio, in case you missed it.

Here it is.

I always enjoy being on Steve's show. He's great at making his guests feel comfortable, and he can make any discussion entertaining.

Cubs 365, April 11

On this day in 1955, Opening Day at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Sam Jones made history for the Cubs. He became the first African American pitcher to ever wear a Cubs uniform.

Jones came into the game in relief of Cubs starter Bob Rush in the fourth inning, with the Cubs clinging to a 6-4 lead. All Jones did was pitch five innings of one-run ball. He struck out five Reds batters during that five inning stint before giving way to Jeffcoat with two outs in the 9th. One out later, Jones also became the first African American pitcher to win a game for the Cubs when Jeffcoat induced Wally Post to hit into a fielder's choice to end the game.

Drinking and Driving

This comes via e-mail. Thanks to "MS" for sending it...

Seeing as my days of drinking are LONG gone and my days of DRIVING have been taken away from me recently, I'd like to share an experience with you about them both.

As you well know, some of us have been known to have had brushes with the authorities, on our way home from a "social session" over the years. A couple of years ago, I was out for a few drinks with some friends at the one of our local pubs and had some rather nice Scotch Whiskey.

Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit, I did something I've never done before: I took a bus home. Sure enough I passed a police road block but as it was a bus, they waved it past. I arrived home safely without incident, which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a bus before and am not sure where I got it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Can Wait 100 Years (2012)

Here's the updated version of the song Brandmeier asked us to perform on the air last week: We Can Wait 100 Years (2012)

It should be good for another few years.

Cubs 365, April 10

On this day in 1921, future Cubs first baseman Chuck Connors was born.

The physically imposing 6'5" Connors played first base for the Cubs in 1951 and hit a whopping two home runs in 200 at bats, not exactly the kind of power you want from a big first baseman. That performance earned him a trip back to the minors.

Luckily for him, the Cubs minor league team at the time was in Los Angeles. While he was playing in the Cubs minor league system he got a bit part in the movie "Pat & Mike" (starring Spencer Tracy--1952). That led him to quit baseball for good and become a full-time actor. By 1958, he was starring in "The Rifleman," which aired until 1963. He also starred in Old Yeller, Soylent Green, and Roots, and is arguably the greatest Cubs actor of all-time (other than Sammy Sosa during his "corked bat" press conference).

Monday, April 09, 2012

Cubs 365, April 9

On this day in 1888, one of the greatest pitchers in Cubs history was born. His name was Hippo Vaughn.

Hippo Vaughn got his nickname because of his size (he was about the same size as Rick Reuschel). He was the star of the 1918 pennant winners (won the pitching triple crown that year). The 1919 Black Sox may have believed that the 1918 Cubs threw that World Series, but if they did, no one suspected Hippo Vaughn was part of it. He started three games in that series, and although he was only 1-2, his ERA was 1.00 and he struck out 17 batters.

Hippo won the ERA title the following year too, and was a 20-game winner 5 times, a 19-game winner once and a 17-game winner another time in his nine seasons with the Cubs. During the years 1914-1920 he was one of the best pitchers in the entire National League.

Hippo's career ended in 1921 when manager Johnny Evers suspended him for thirty days for insubordination. In 1922, he got into a salary dispute, and chose to pitch for a semi-pro team instead. He was reinstated by Commissioner Landis after 8 years of ineligibility in 1930. He went to spring training with the Cubs in 1931 but failed to make the team at age 43.