Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Sherman Kaplan

This week I asked Sherman (Kaplan) to set the wayback machine to 1969, his first year at WBBM-News Radio 780. We talk about his 40 plus years at the station.

You can read it here.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Cub Fans

This is a great piece in Salon by Robert J. Elisberg. Thanks to "DE" for pointing it out to me. It's called "Okay, so it's been a bad century."

There are several great lines written by this fellow Cub fan in the piece, but here's my favorite: "People marvel that there are so many Cubs fans - but they miss the point.  The amazing thing isn't that there are so many Cubs fans.  It's that there are any."

There are a few more gems in the piece. Check it out, fellow Cub fans. It gave me a chuckle.

Sights & Sounds

This week's Sights & Sounds has video of the Cubs from the 1930s (that's right, the 1930s), and audio of Walter Jacobson talking about his days as a Cubs bat boy in the 1950s.

Watch it and listen to it here.


Happy birthday to Hugh Hefner, who turns, are you ready for this...84 years old today.

Of course there was a time when Hef was as much a part of the fabric of Chicago as the Cubs.

Read about that era here.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Twin Peaks

One of the weirdest (and one of my favorite) shows of all-time debuted exactly twenty years ago today: Twin Peaks. That show was water cooler fodder over at the Loop. Many of us watched it and tried to figure out what in the world David Lynch was trying to say.

If I remember correctly, Bob Stroud even had a Twin Peaks party at his house to watch the series finale--the episode we thought would answer all of our questions. Instead, we got this...


I was just listening to the weather forecast and they predicted it would snow in Chicago.

I did warn you that it was going to get cold again in time for the Cubs opener, didn't I? I have tickets for Wednesday's game. Hopefully I won't need to wear my winter hat again this year.

By the way, 35 years ago today the Cubs had their home opener at Wrigley Field. That game was snowed out.

We're #1!

I know it's been a rough start of the year for the Cubs, so this news should cheer you up. The Cubs do lead the league in something according to the latest stats.

This year they have the highest non-premium ticket prices!

We're #1!

Don Zimmer

On this day in 1960 the Cubs acquired an infielder named Don Zimmer, who would go on to manage the team nearly 30 years later.

Read all about the trade and why it didn't turn out so well for the Cubs.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Book Review: The Man with Two Arms

When I received "The Man with Two Arms" by Billy Lombardo and read the synopsis of the story, I put it in my very exclusive "to read" pile.

That pile is usually filled with non-fiction books; research for my websites and my own books. Very few novels make the pile because I just don't have enough hours in my day to read for fun.

I am so happy I made this novel, "The Man with Two Arms," the exception to the rule.

It's a story about the first switch pitcher in the major leagues, which was enough of a hook for me to put it in the "to read" pile. But it's much much more than that. It's a love letter to baseball. It's a beautifully told father-son story that will touch the heart of any father or son (I have three boys). It's a love story that is told with the kind of sensitivity and care you simply don't find in novels...especially those targeted to men.

It's wish fulfillment to the nth degree, especially for Cub fans (some of the most touching baseball moments occur at Wrigley Field).

I can't recommend it highly enough. I was literally smiling the entire time I was reading it. It was that joyous of an experience.

This is how deeply it touched me. On opening day when Jason Heyward hit a home run in his first major league at bat to beat my favorite team, the Cubs, I was cheering for him. They showed his father in the stands being surrounded by his friends. His father who was filled with such pride and euphoria that the tears couldn't be contained, and I'll admit it. I couldn't contain mine either.

It's a moment all of us would love to either the father or the son. If you read "The Man with Two Arms" you actually will experience it.

Are you a man that wells up every time the movie "Field of Dreams" comes on? Do you "get something in your eye" when Kevin Costner says "Dad, you wanna have a catch?" Is the highlight of your day the moment your own son wants to play catch or talk baseball with you? If you answered yes to any of those questions, read this book.

In addition to being a great story, it's simply beautifully written. Billy Lombardo is a heck of a talent.

I'm totally jealous.

That's the highest praise one writer can give to another.

The iPad

Will it blend?

Jake Hartford

Last year I interviewed Jake Hartford for Chicago Radio Spotlight. At the time he was working at WCPT, and seemed to really miss working at WLS.

Robert Feder reports this morning that Jake is now officially back at WLS.

Playing P-O-T-U-S with Obama

He may not be able to pitch (OK, he definitely can't pitch), but he can play some hoops...

James Garner

He's 82 years old today. One of my favs...


On this day in 1994 Michael Jordan made his first and only appearance in Chicago as a professional baseball player. He played right field for the White Sox in an exhibition game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

I was there. It was friggin cold.

MJ got a double in three at bats.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Opening day postscript

A lot is being said today about the Cubs opening day loss.

Yes, it's their worst opening day loss since 1884.

However, the Cubs rebounded from that loss to win the championship in 1885 and 1886. 

I just put that information in my pipe and smoked it. Aaaah. Soothing. Like a salve on a third degree burn.

Don Kessinger

What is good ol' #11 up to these days?

Find out here.

I love that his bio doesn't even mention the Cubs. I wonder if he had it expunged after opening day yesterday.

Opening day recap

So I'm sitting in the living room watching the opener when my son Sean (age 7) comes home from school. The Cubs are losing 6-3, and it's only the first inning.

Sean says "Hey dad, we're not too far behind."

Fast forward to the eighth inning. I'm in the kitchen making dinner when I hear Sean yelping in the living room. I run in and ask him what happened. He has a big smile on his face.

"We got out of a jam, dad."

"Great," I said. "What's the score?"


"We're getting killed," I pointed out.

"Yeah, but it's only one game," he countered.

The Cubs blood runs deep in that boy.

Steve Stone

Steve Stone joined the Cubs broadcast booth on this day in 1983. In his role as Harry's sidekick, he certainly had some interesting moments over the years. This one is probably my favorite...

I understand he works for another team now. Not sure which one.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Boys will be girls, Girls will be boys

This is hilarious...

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted my latest Father Knows Nothing column. This one is about the unbelievably scary children's stories I used to hear when I was a boy. It's called "German Children's Tales."

You can read it here.


Good luck to the Cubs today on Opening Day.

They have certainly had their fair share of entertaining and/or memorable opening days over the years.

Read about some of those here.

Read about some more here.