Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight Interview: Cheryl Raye-Stout

This week's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview is with WBEZ sportscaster Cheryl Raye-Stout.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, April 21

On this day in 1940, one of the most colorful players to ever wear a Cubs uniform was born. Some players are known as characters. Some are known as eccentrics. Still others seem to have come from another planet. Bill Faul was one of those guys...and he wasn't even a lefty...or a Californian.

Faul pitched for the Cubs in 1965 and 1966. It's safe to say that he had a quirk or two. For instance...

*He hypnotized himself before games and talked to his arm. Opposing players would make fun of him by swinging watches and saying ‘tick tock tick tock’ while he was pitching.

*He used to rip the heads off parakeets with his teeth (according to Bill Lee).

*He swallowed live toads, claiming they put “extra hop” on his fastballs.

*He liked to hold guys off the third or fourth floor hotel balcony by their ankles…upside down.

*His jersey number was — you guessed it — 13.

Former Detroit Tigers manager Chuck Dressen once said: “You watch him for a while, watch how he acts, talk to him, spend some time with him, and you figure either he's the dumbest guy in the world or the smartest one you've ever met.”

As wild and unpredictable as Faul was, he was cool as a cucumber on the field. He had to be awakened in the clubhouse only thirty minutes before his first major league start. Faul shook out the cobwebs, grabbed the ball, warmed up, and pitched a three-hitter.

Faul always seemed to be in the middle of a lot of excitement. He was one of only a handful of pitchers to be involved in fielding a triple play, and one of only two major league pitchers in history to have three triple plays in one season while he was on the mound.

He claimed the secret to his success was his hypnosis therapy, his background as a karate instructor in the Air Force (his hands and feet were both registered as dangerous weapons), and his spiritual consciousness (he was a Doctor of Divinity for the Universal Life Church).

Unfortunately for Faul, the league figured him out in 1966. When his ERA climbed over 5, he was sent down to the minors and never returned to the Cubs. He kicked around the minor leagues for a few seasons before turning up for a cup of coffee with the Giants in 1970.

Bill Faul died in 2002, at the age of 62.

"Down at the Golden Coin" in the Tribune

The Chicago Tribune has a short piece in the A&E section of the paper about Eckhartz Press author Kim Strickland and her book "Down at the Golden Coin". (Although...they got the name of the publisher wrong somehow. It's Eckhartz Press not Pink Castle. Sigh.)

You can read it here.

Her book is available here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coming this weekend

This weekend's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview is with WBEZ's Cheryl Raye Stout. She's been covering sports in Chicago for the last 30 years and has some great stories. I'll post it on Saturday morning.

On Sunday, I'll also post a new Father Knows Nothing column. I'm still trying to decide among three possibilities for this week. Stay tuned.

In addition, of course, Cubs 365 will continue, as will our weekly journeys back to 1908 and 1945 at the Just One Bad Century website.

Have a great weekend!

Cubs 365, April 20

On this day in 1946, the first televised Cubs game aired. WBKB-TV broadcast that first game with famous bowling announcer Whispering Joe Wilson (photo) behind the microphone.

It was a memorable day at the ballpark for a few other reasons too. It was the 30th anniversary of the Cubs playing in Wrigley Field, and the National League Pennant was raised up the flagpole for the fifth time since the Cubs started playing there. As everyone who follows Cubs lore knows, it's also the last time that happened.

In addition, this game marked the first game back at Wrigley Field for returning soldiers Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter. Slaughter knocked in Musial for the only run the Cardinals would need that day, as the Cardinals beat star Cubs pitcher Hank Borowy.

The defending NL champs finished in 3rd place that year, 14 1/2 games out of first; a finish that wouldn't be topped for another 20 years.

Brendan at the Book Club

Last night Brendan stopped by a book club discussing "The Living Wills". A great time was had by one and all. Remember, if you live in the Chicago area, and your book club is discussing one of the Eckhartz Press books, our authors (Brendan, Kim, Randy or me) would be pleased to stop by and join in the discussion (schedule permitting). I'm going to a book club in Palatine a few weeks from now. All you have to do is ask.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cubs 365, April 19

On this day in 1969, the Cubs swapped utility infielders with the New York Yankees. The Yankees sent the Cubs Nate Oliver, who became a fan favorite during that memorable year. The Cubs sent the Yankees a player that became even more memorable in Cubs lore.

Remember this guy?

Review: "The Living Wills"

Many thanks to Megan Renehan, who just reviewed "The Living Wills" for Windy City Reviews. Her review is not yet available on-line, but I'll provide a link to it as soon as it is. In the meantime, you can read a portion of it here...

The Living Wills by Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer
Reviewed by Megan Renehan, Windy City Reviews

In The Living Wills, Sullivan and Kaempfer tell a story of interconnected lives and the consequences of split-second decisions. The novel follows five main characters: a parking garage attendant, a barista, a toilet salesman, a lawyer, and a corporate executive, ultimately connecting their lives in deep and unexpected ways. The story is structured in short chapters alternating between the main characters' points of view. Rich with emotion and local detail, The Living Wills is a story that stayed with me long after I had closed the book.

In the preface, the authors note the novel's structure is influenced by the Harold, an improvisational theater form created by Del Close. While the novel does not exactly follow the form, the interwoven stories lend themselves to the influence of improv. Sullivan and Kaempfer set themselves up for a challenge by telling the stories of five main characters each through a different point of view, but each of the story lines is unique, all the characters are clearly drawn, and there is no confusion for the reader. Short chapters advance the plot quickly and keep the reader engaged.

What struck me most about this novel was its sweetness. Sullivan and Kaempfer navigate issues of love, loss, and family dynamics with a care that is crucial to the success of the novel. The straightforward, unadorned prose does no work to convey the depth of emotion in the novel; that job is reserved solely for the characters, and they carry the load well. Though each of the characters trend slightly towards the stereotypical, the reader is able to accept them as individuals thanks to Sullivan and Kaempfer's well-placed personal details. Delmar, the toilet salesman, is a salesman to his core, and his application of sales principles to his romantic relationship is at once comic and endearing. Similarly, the scenes in the parking garage with the executive and the attendant are injected with emotion when we learn that “Reed went through the usual charade of offering a smoke to Henry, who always pretended to consider it before declining.” These details elevate the novel from cliché to something much deeper and more satisfying for the reader...

On the whole, The Living Wills was a pleasure to read for Sullivan and Kaempfer's deft characterization and effective structural choices. The rich details about Chicago only add to the novel's appeal, and I find myself thinking of Henry, Reed, and Delmar when I pass Waveland Bowl or a parking area on lower Wacker Drive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Announcing the newest Eckhartz Press author: Randy Richardson

Eckhartz Press is thrilled to announce the signing of another author. His name is Randy Richardson, and on May 29th he will become the fourth Eckhartz Press author when we release his second novel; "Cheeseland".

Attorney and award-winning journalist Randy Richardson serves as president of the 300-member Chicago Writers Association. His essays have been published in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul, Humor for a Boomer’s Heart, The Big Book of Christmas Joy, and Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year, as well as in numerous print and online journals and magazines. The online publication Gapers Block named his debut novel, Lost in the Ivy, one of the notable Chicago books of 2005.

Much more information about Randy and his book "Cheeseland" coming in the next few weeks. It will be available for pre-order at Eckhartz Press beginning May 8.

If you can't wait for "Cheeseland" details, check out the "Coming Soon" tab at the Eckhartz Press website.

My Buddy's Incredible Streak of Bad Luck

That's the title of this week's Suburban Dad contribution to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow. It's about my buddy Dave's streak of bad luck when he happens to have legitimate reasons to get out of the house.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, April 18

On this day in 2008, Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman, father of former Cubs announcer Thom Brennaman, offended every Cubs fan in America when he said: "far and away the most obnoxious fans in baseball, in this league, are those that follow this team right here (the Cubs)."

Watch and listen...

Please accept our apologies, oh dainty one. We're still trying to raise ourselves to this Cincinnati level of classiness. Or the classiness of the "banned for life" not-at-all obnoxious Cincinnati icon Pete Rose. Or the classiness of pitcher Mario Soto, who was suspended for going into the stands with a baseball bat.

Someday, if we're lucky, we'll be that classy, and hopefully that will protect you from the incredibly damaging sight of our "unbelievably obnoxious" fans throwing a bunch of balls onto the field.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Texts from a Dog

Not my dog (shown here with a ridiculously bundled up Sean)

This guy's dog.

Dog owners will appreciate the humor.

Cubs 365, April 17

If not for world events and patriotic fervor, April 17, 1942 could have been a day that all Cub fans remembered. It could have been the first Cubs game played under the lights at Wrigley Field.

The lights had been purchased and were due to be installed after the 1941 season, but after the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, Cubs owner Philip Wrigley donated the lights to the United States War Department instead.

By Opening Day, April 17, 1942, the lights were long gone. They wouldn't be installed for another 46 years.

Although, that first season nobody seemed to mind. The Cubs were considered quite patriotic in 1942. They also donated every ball hit into the stands to the United States Military recreation department.

On the day that could have been played under the lights, the Cubs beat Reds ace Johnny Vander Meer. Bill Lee out-dueled him in a 3-2 Cubs victory. Cubs shortstop Lennie Merullo scored two of the three runs for the Cubs.

Cue the Calliope Music

The Cubs are going to the circus.

The baseball circus, that is: The Miami Marlins. It's Ozzie's first game after his suspension. It's Carlos Zambrano's first time facing the Cubs after quitting on them last year.

You'll have to watch the game to find out who wins, because the reporting tomorrow will barely mention it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

35 years ago today...

...this song was actually #1 in the country. Seriously.

Cubs 365, April 16

On this day in 1972, Cubs rookie Burt Hooten threw a no-hitter in only his fourth big league start. He walked seven and struck out seven Phillies on a cold and blustery Wrigley afternoon, throwing 120 pitches.

The Philadelphia lineup was no pushover. Among the good hitters on that team: Larry Bowa, Willie Montanez, Deron Johnson, Greg Luzinski, Don Money and Tim McCarver. The only time Hooten was even remotely in trouble was in the top of the 7th inning. He walked both Don Money and outfielder Mike Anderson before striking out Denny Doyle to end the inning.

Like another future Cubs rookie phenom from Texas, Hooten had a flair for the dramatic. He struck out the last two hitters he faced; Deron Johnson and Greg Luzinski. It was undoubtedly the highlight of his Cubs career.

Unfortunately, Hooten was traded away just a few years later to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The players the Cubs got in return, Eddie Soloman and Geoff Zahn, had no impact whatsoever in Chicago. Hooten, on the other hand, would go on to win at least 10 games eight years in a row for the Dodgers (including two seasons with 18, and another with 19), and would pitch in three World Series.

Rick and Brendan on the Internet

Metrolingua Blogger Margaret Larkin interviewed us about our book "The Living Wills".

You can read it here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

This week's Father Knows Nothing has been posted. It's about the most ridiculous argument ever.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, April 15

On this day in 1886, future Cubs pitcher King Cole was born.

His real name was Leonard Leslie Cole. He started his baseball career as a pitcher with the Cubs in 1909. By 1910, he was the ace of the staff. He led the National League that season with a record of 20-4 and helped win a National League Pennant for the Cubs. His 20-4 record is the best winning percentage (.866) for a Cubs pitcher in the twentieth Century.

He was immortalized as "King" Cole by Ring Lardner, who no doubt, got it from the children's nursery rhyme 'Old King Cole.' King Cole didn't stay with the Cubs very long. He won 18 games for them in 1911, and was traded (along with fan favorite Solly Hofman) to the Pirates for Tommy Leach early in the 1912 season.

He later landed in the American League, where Cole gave up Babe Ruth's first ever hit in the majors (a double on October 2, 1914). But this King Cole would not live to be a merry old soul. In 1915, he contracted a disease that knocked him out of baseball. Some sources say it was malaria, others say tuberculosis, and still others speculate it was syphilis, but whatever the disease, it took Cole's life.

He died on January 6th, 1916, a few months shy of his 30th birthday