Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Steve Cochran and Brian Noonan

They used to work at the same radio station, but not any more. This week I interviewed WIND's Steve Cochran and WGN's Brian Noonan.

You can read the interviews here.

Cubs 365, January 21

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 1899, Lew Fonseca was born. Fonseca went on to become a major league player and manager. In 12 big league seasons he played first base, second base and left field for the Reds, Phillies, Indians, and White Sox. As a manager, he led the White Sox to one of their worst seasons of all time in 1932. They finished that year 49-102.

After his playing/managing career ended, he settled in Chicago and became one of the early radio announcers for the Chicago Cubs.

Listen for his play-by-play in this montage of very early Cubs announcers.

Lew Fonseca is buried in the same cemetery (All Saints in Des Plaines) as another famous Cubs announcer, Harry Caray.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Coming this weekend

This weekend I'll be re-interviewing Steve Cochran and Brian Noonan for Chicago Radio Spotlight, Cubs 365 will chronicle a Cubs announcer from the 1930s and a Cubs reliever that made it in Hollywood, and a new Father Knows Nothing column will be a surprise to both of us.

Rick and Brendan on the Radio

If you're up early on Sunday morning, tune in to WGN-AM 720. Brendan and I will be appearing on Rick Kogan's show at 7:30. Rick is quoted on the front cover of The Living Wills ("Rollicking and real on so many levels"), so we're excited to be on his show to thank him for that in person.

Cubs 365, January 20

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 1983, Cubs general manager Dallas Green acquired a player that he thought would be the cornerstone of a Cubs World Series team. His name was Ron Cey, and he holds the distinction of being the last Cub to sign a contract that included an attendance clause. (It's hard to believe that was ever necessary, but those of us who lived through those dark days remember it well)

He had a couple of good years with the Cubs in the mid 80s (including 97 RBI in the division winning season of '84), but he really didn't have much range anymore at 3B. By this stage of his career, his squatty body and bushy mustache got in the way of any ball hit directly at him, but anything else was ticketed for left field.

After the 1987 season he was traded for a lesser bat with a lesser mustache, Luis Quinones.

Fergie Speaks

He was in Canada, being honored by the Canadian Hall of Fame (did you know they have a Fergie Jenkins stamp in Canada?), and was asked about Theo Epstein and the Cubs.

He said: "I really don't know what to take of him yet. I tried to get a meeting with him and he was really busy. He's young. He's never put a jockstrap on though. See that's the thing."

The whole article is here. He did go on to say nice things about Theo too, but I suspect that one quote will make it to the desk of Theo.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Leslie Gore on Batman

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac this morning...

January 19, 1967…Lesley Gore appeared as Catwoman's sidekick, Pussycat, singing "California Nights," on ABC-TV's "Batman."

I remember this episode well. I think I may have experienced some of my first impure thoughts when I saw this the first time a few years later. Between Leslie and Julie Newmar...yikes.

The Rick and Brendan TV interview

This is what I love about appearing on WGN-TV this week. The interview has now been posted at places like...

The Tribune


Central Kentucky News

Pennsylvania's Fox News

Lehigh Valley, The Morning Call


Fox 59 Indianapolis

Cubs 365, January 19

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 2000, the Cubs signed a slugging free agent third baseman to finally, once and for all, solve their long 3B woes.

His name was Willie Greene.

He batted .201 in more than 300 at bats and never played in the big leagues again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Green White Soccer Club

One of my many writing projects is putting together the history of the Green White Soccer Club, a club co-founded by my father in 1956.

I've been writing this history year by year, posting a new entry every month. Today I posted 1960, if you're interested.

You can see the following previous years at the site too...





Kids That Are Impossible to Impress

My weekly Suburban Dad contribution to the City Mom blog has been posted. This week's is called "Kids that are impossible to impress"

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, January 18

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 1901, the Cubs acquired a catcher/infielder/outfielder named Dirty Jack Doyle. His colorful life story, including his stint with the Cubs, and the origin of his nickname, is told wonderfully by the Baseball Biography Project.

You can read it here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"The Living Wills" on TV

You can watch the Rick and Brendan interview at WGN here.

Thanks to Dina Bair from the WGN Midday News for her kind words about the book, and her nice job of interviewing us. It's nice to be interviewed by someone who has actually read the book.

Rick & Brendan on TV

If you're home today or near a television, click on the WGN Midday News with Steve Sanders at 11:30 or so, and you may see Brendan and me discussing "The Living Wills".

Remember this though, the camera adds up to 30 pounds.

Cubs 365, January 17

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 1931, future Cubs player and manager Don Zimmer was born. Most modern day Cub fans know the tale of his managing days in Chicago, but not many know about his interesting stint as a Cubs player. In April of 1960, the Cubs made a trade with the reigning World Champion Dodgers to acquire one of their backup infielders. That backup infielder's name was Don Zimmer.

It was one of those moves that caused everyone in the league to scratch their heads. Although Zimmer was a competent enough player (he managed to stay in the majors for twelve seasons), he was coming off a season in which he hit only .165 in nearly 250 at bats. He had very little power, very little range in the infield, and his best days were behind him. Plus, the Dodgers didn't really have a place to play the 29-year-old Zimmer. He clearly wasn't going to crack the lineup in 1960. They had all-star infielders like Charlie Neal (2B), Maury Wills (SS), and Junior Gilliam (3B).

Nevertheless, the Cubs traded promising young minor league pitcher Ron Perranoski (and two other players) to get him.

Plus, the Cubs said they acquired Zimmer to play him at 3B--and they already had a rookie phenom poised to take over the position...a youngster by the name of Ron Santo. Santo was furious when the trade was announced, and threatened to quit. Rather than upset the youngster, the Cubs put Zimmer at Second Base, and traded their fine young second baseman Tony Taylor to the Phillies.

How did this trade work out for the Cubs? Perranoski ended up becoming one of the premier relief pitchers in baseball for the next decade. He pitched in two league championship series, and three World Series, winning two rings with the 1963 and 1965 Dodgers. He also led the league in saves twice, and saved a total 179 games between 1961 and 1971.

Tony Taylor, who was only 24 years old at the time of the trade, played another sixteen years in the majors with the Phillies and the Tigers. When he retired after the 1976 season he was the oldest player in baseball (40 years old). Don Zimmer was the manager of the Boston Red Sox at the time.

Zimmer's Cubs career is probably best remembered for his very public criticism of the ridiculous "College of Coaches" system, which he claimed was stunting the growth of budding superstars Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Lou Brock. His candor was rewarded with being left unprotected in the expansion draft of 1962.

He was drafted by the New York Mets, and played on the worst team in baseball history.

New Feature at Wrigley

A patio will be added to Wrigley Field in 2012. It will be in right field, but I can't picture exactly where they are going to put it. Here's what the Tribune article says...

"The patio will seat up to 150 people and have LED signage with the capability to display detailed game information. The Cubs unveiled the new 75-foot LED board during the Cubs Convention over the weekend. The patio will accommodate groups of 50, 100 or 150 people. It's called the Budweiser Patio. Packages will be available for all-inclusive food and beverages. Wally Hayward is a marketing officer for the Cubs. He says the patio will give fans a rooftop experience inside the ballpark."

A rooftop experience inside the ballpark? I thought the rooftop experience was the next best thing to actually being inside the ballpark.

Then again, I'm easily confused.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicago Writer's Association Awards

On Saturday night I went to the Chicago Writer's Association Awards at the Book Cellar on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Congrats to the winners; James Finn Garner, Christine Sneed, Pamela Ferdinand, and Krista August.

Gaper's Block was there to chronicle the event.

A good time was had by all. You gotta love a place that sells Belgian beer and books; including a certain book co-written by a certain author/writer/blogger. Only five copies of "The Living Wills" were left, by the way. Good to see that it's selling well.

What the World Needs Now

I post this every year on Martin Luther King Day. This was put together by Detroit disc jockey Tom Clay in 1970. It's very powerful...

Cubs 365, January 16

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 1910, Dizzy Dean was born. Dean was given his nickname by his sergeant in the army, where he picked up the basics of pitching. He was colorful, exciting, cocky, and the best pitcher in baseball. Unfortunately, that last description only applied to his years before he joined the Cubs in 1938.

His best years were with the Cardinals, where he led the league in strikeouts 4 times, wins twice (including 30 wins one year), innings pitched three times, complete games three times, and even saves once. In 1934, he won the Most Valuable Player award when he led the Cardinals to the World Championship. During those years he was undoubtedly the cockiest player in the game. He once bet he could strike out Vince DiMaggio four times in one game. He struck him out his first three at bats, but when he hit a popup behind the plate at his fourth, Dean screamed at his catcher, "Drop it!, Drop it!" The catcher did and Dean fanned DiMaggio, winning the bet.

He suffered an arm injury, however, and by the time Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley ordered his scouts to acquire Dean at any cost, he was just an ordinary pitcher. They signed him for $185,000 in 1938, which was a huge contract for the time. Dean helped the Cubs win the 1938 National League pennant, and pitched pretty well in Game 2 of the World Series before losing to the New York Yankees in what became known as "Ol' Diz's Last Stand."

After that, he was done. He tried to pitch for the Cubs until 1941, but he just couldn't do it anymore. He retired after that season. That's when he started his second popular career: radio broadcaster. His malapropisms were legendary, and fans loved it. In 1950 he began doing baseball's Game of the Week on national television. He remained in sportscasting for more than 20 years.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

My latest "Father Knows Nothing" column is entitled "Snow Music".

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, January 15

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 1998, the Cubs signed free agent closer Rod Beck. They called him "The Shooter" because he was like a gunslinger out there, and he didn't waste any of his bullets. Rod Beck was the Cubs closer during that wild card season of 1998, saving 51 games in truly scary fashion. His fastball was in the mid-80s at the very best—but he somehow still got the outs. Without him, the Cubs wouldn't have made the playoffs that year.

Chicago fans embraced him and his blue collar attitude. But after more arm problems the following year, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. He managed to stay in the majors until 2004, and had a few more good seasons in Boston and San Diego, but he died tragically in 2007 from an apparent drug overdose.

Rod Beck was only 38 years old.