Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Brendan Sullivan

This week's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview is with former Brandmeier producer/writer Brendan Sullivan. You can read it here.

Coming next week: Captain Whammo!

Cubs 365, January 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 1967, the Chicago Cubs had the first pick in the amateur draft. Most of the teams in the league agreed the top two picks were outfielder Ken Singleton and catcher Carlton Fisk. The Cubs disagreed with most teams.

They chose a pitcher instead; an 18-year-old high schooler from California. His name was Al Distaso. The Cubs considered him the second coming of Don Drysdale. He didn't have Drysdale's size or fastball, but he did resemble him physically. And at first, he showed some promise. In his first two minor league seasons he struck out 225 in just over 300 innings.

But he also hurt his elbow, and by the time spring training rolled around in 1969, he wasn't the same pitcher. Leo Durocher took a chance he could rediscover the magic, and named him the 10th man on the pitching staff going into the season. Al debuted on April 20th against the Expos and pitched two scoreless innings.

He came in again on April 22nd, but this time he wasn't facing the Expos. He was facing the fearsome Pittsburgh Pirates. Richie Hebner, Matty Alou, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell all got hits against Al in what turned out to be his final major league appearance.

He was sent down to the minors after that and never returned.

But Al found a higher calling after leaving baseball for good in 1970. He became a police officer; a decorated homicide detective in the roughest neighborhood of Los Angeles. Al retired from the force in 1994, and as a gift for the other guys in his unit, he presented all of them with a copy of his 1969 Cubs Rookie card.

Al Distaso passed away in 2009.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cubs 365, January 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 1982, the Cubs acquired veteran shortstop Larry Bowa from the Philadelphia Phillies for Ivan DeJesus. The Phillies also threw in a minor league infielder to sweeten the deal. (Photo)

His name escapes me at the moment. I need to check how his career turned out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The American Breed

I already mentioned (a few items below this) that today is the 45th anniversary of that 1967 blizzard in Chicago. What I didn't realize, until I read Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac, was that the blizzard is responsible for something else...

January 26, 1967…The American Breed was signed by ACTA Records after the label president saw them perform while he was stuck in Chicago during a blizzard.

Remember the American Breed? They had one hit, but it was a big one. Check out the drummer in this video. I've seen bad lip-synching before, but never such atrocious fake drumming. He's not even coming close to the drum kit.

The Blizzard of 1967

It happened 45 years ago today, and it's still the most legendary blizzard in Chicago history because it took us all by surprise.

The full story is here.

Cubs 365, January 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 1932, Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr. passed away. It was a great loss for the Cubs, not only because Wrigley was a savvy businessman. He was also the last owner before Tom Ricketts that LOVED baseball. This is William Wrigley in his own words, in Time Magazine in 1930...
"Outside of school hours, when I was a boy in Philadelphia, I worked for my father. This seemed to me a cruel conspiracy of the fates. He was a kind man, but he belonged to a generation which was work-minded. Baseball was nothing to him. My work took me directly past the ball park of the Nationals (the Phillies). That was the trouble! I hadn’t a chance in the world to get away to the ball game on any of the familiar alibis. The near relatives of my boy friends were buried regularly on ball game days. No use to tell my employer of the imaginary funeral in my family, for he was my father and had the death statistics of the family down to the minute. No other excuses worked. Whenever I came to the ball park and heard the wild cheering within, I was in a state of rebellion. One day when the cheering was particularly wild in the park, I resolved that one day I would own a ball team and a ball park. My interest in the game has never relaxed for one instant from that moment to this.”

On his deathbed, William Wrigley made his son Phillip promise never to sell the team. Even though Phillip didn't much care about baseball, he honored his father's wish, and held on to the Cubs until his own death in 1977.

Under the son, the Cubs atrophied and became the worst team in baseball, but they still played, and continue to play in the stadium that is named after his father; baseball lover William Wrigley.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Defense of the Suburbs

My weekly Suburban Dad contribution to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow has been posted. This week's is called "In Defense of the Suburbs".

You can read it here.

Cubs Prospects

When was the last time the Cubs had four prospects ranked in the top ten in all of baseball (at their positions)?

Right now, we've got the #1 first base prospect Anthony Rizzo (and the #10 1B prospect, Dan Vogelbach), the #5 outfield prospect Brett Jackson, and the #8 shortstop prospect (Javier Baez). And, thanks to our crappy 2011, we'll have a very high draft choice this year too.

It's going to take some time, but I really think these new guys are doing it the right way.

Cubs 365, January 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 1983, the Cubs made a rare blockbuster trade with the crosstown White Sox. The Cubs gave up Scott Fletcher, Randy Martz, Pat Tabler and Dick Tidrow and received Steve Trout and Warren Brusstar in return.

This was one of those rare good trades for the Cubs. Fletcher became the starting second baseman for the White Sox, but the Cubs had another youngster at that position named Sandberg. Tidrow was a serviceable reliever for the Sox, but he was near the end of his career.

Meanwhile, Steve Trout, the son of a man who had beaten the Cubs in the 1945 World Series, somehow became a fan favorite at Wrigley Field. In 1984 he was part of a great rotation that led the team to the brink of the World Series. In his only postseason start, Trout even won Game 2 of that series in Wrigley Field.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Making the Rounds

When Brendan and I did our interview on WGN-TV last week we had no idea it would make the rounds like it has. It hasn't just aired here in Chicago, it's all over the country including Fox 59 Indianapolis, WTVR Richmond, KCPQ-Seattle, Fox 17 Grand Rapids, KTXL Sacramento, WPIX New York, KTUU Alaska , WGNO New Orleans, WPMT York/Harrisburg/Lebanon/Lancaster, KWCH Kansas City, KDAF Dallas Fort Worth, KTVI St. Louis, My Fox 8 Greensboro/Winston-Salem, WPHL Philadelphia, KDVR Denver, WJW Cleveland, KTSU Utah, Fox 6 Milwaukee, WHNT Huntsville Alabama, Fox 5 San Diego, and many more.

Please disregard everything I wrote in my novel "$everance". This media consolidation thing is better than I thought.

Reader Reviews for "The Living Wills"

We've literally received hundreds of responses from people who have read and enjoyed "The Living Wills". Here are a few of them...

"I downloaded a copy of the book on my e-reader (NOOK), and I just finished reading it. This is one of the best books I read in an awfully long time. I lived 1/2 block from Waveland Bowling Alley. I bowled in 4 leagues every week for about 3 years and traveled that neighborhood for 11 years. It brought back so many memories, people I bowled with, things that happen after bowling, having coffee in their coffee shop, etc. You did a great job in taking us around the northwest side of the city via the various street names. The way the individual stories came together and, of course, the last chapter. My only regret is that I bought it as an e-book and therefore can't get it autographed."
--John S.

"I absolutely loved this book! I enjoyed everything about it - the characters, the storylines, and how it all fits together in the end. It took a few chapters for me to really get into it, and then I didn't want to put it down. I cried when I finished it, but mostly because it was over. The story illustrates how connected our lives really are to so many other people, and in ways that we may not even realize. I read Rick Kaempfer's first novel, "$everance", and I liked that one too, but this one was even better! I would love to see more books from this team of authors - keep it up, guys!!"
--Chocoholic mom

""The Living Wills" is a wonderful story of the meaning of family and friendship in life. This book especially strikes a chord if you're from Chicago, but I would think that any reader would identify with at least one of the main characters, their problems, joys and relationships. Highly recommended!"
--Dina S.

"I am an avid reader across many genre. I enjoy taking diverse ideas and rubbing them together to see how I might surprise myself and learn something new, feel something different. The Living Wills is a terrific story that does the same thing between its covers. I laughed, I cried, I thought deeply, and I have taken action based on the wonderful and realistic story. This is a magnificent book for adults and particularly those of us who are into the second half of our lives or who know someone who is. It gives new insights into how to measure the meaning of one's life - whether in its entirety or just two seconds."
--Gil H.

"I absolutely loved this book! I loved the characters, the storylines, and especially how the stories all came together at the end. I also laughed and cried, and was sad when I finished the book. I would love to read more books by these two authors. Keep writing, guys!!!"
--Carol R.


According to this piece at, ownership of tablets and e-readers doubled over the Holiday season this year.

That's incredible.

There must be quite a few people out there looking for something to read on their e-readers. Luckily for you, I've got a suggestion for every kind of e-reader. If you've got a Kindle, I heard this book is an excellent choice.

If you have an iPad, this one may be more your style.

I understand that Nook readers might prefer this book.

And finally, I'm not 100% sure about this one, but based on the five star reviews I've been reading, this is probably your best option if you own a Sony e-reader.

No charge for the tip.

Only $3.99 for the book. That's really almost stealing it, isn't it?

Cubs 365, January 24

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 1916, Hall of Fame Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse was born. Jack was the man that had to describe the play of play of a Cubs team that went twenty seasons in a row without being in the upper division.

There were bright spots, though, and Jack was always able to find them. Just like his favorite player on the Cubs during that era, Ernie Banks...

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Catalyst Ranch

I've mentioned this event a few times before, but I'm publishing the entire write up from the Catalyst Ranch's website here one more time, because the event is tomorrow...

Don't Miss Our Match Books Event
THE LIVING WILLS by Brendan Sullivan & Rick Kaempfer
Tuesday, January 24th from 6pm-8pm

One novel, two authors!? Creativity coach Brendan Sullivan wants to show you how he used the same techniques he brings to clients like Kelloggs, PepsiCo, GE and Harley-Davidson (think improv, mind mapping and other ideation processes) to create a new novel with co-author Rick Kaempfer. Much of the work was done during sessions right here at the Ranch! Join us as Brendan & Rick share these techniques with you and demonstrate how you can incorporate them into your life and work to be more creatively productive. Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune calls THE LIVING WILLS "rollicking and real on so many levels." This Match Books session is not to be missed!

Date: Tuesday, January 24th from 6pm-8pm
Location: Catalyst Ranch
Cost: $15 or 2 new children's books (all proceeds donated to Open Books). Light refreshments will be served. (Eckhartz Press note: We're bringing beer)
RSVP from our Happenings Page. If you are bringing books please RSVP to
Click here to visit our blog: Interview with Brendan Sullivan & Rick Kaempfer on their new book The Living Wills.

Cubs 365, January 23

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 1927, Cubs radio announcer Jack Quinlan was born. He was the radio play by play man for the Cubs for nearly a decade, starting in the mid-1950s. When he first began there were several stations covering the Cubs, and he handled the honors for WIND-AM.

Beginning in 1957, he moved over to what became the exclusive flagship station of the Cubs, WGN. Jack was at the microphone during both of Ernie Banks' MVP seasons, and was the first Cubs radio announcer to mention the names of future Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Lou Brock and Ron Santo.

Jack Quinlan was a master of painting a picture with his words, and when he died in a car crash after a golf outing during Spring Training 1965, the Cubs lost one of the best. Since 1967 a charity golf tournament in his name is staged every year to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rick & Brendan on "The Sunday Papers"

Thanks so much to Rick Kogan (photo) of WGN for having us on the show this morning to discuss "The Living Wills"

Kogan has obviously endorsed the book previously (his blurb is on the book jacket), but he had much more to say about it during the interview this morning.

You can hear that interview here.

Father Knows Nothing

This week's Father Knows Nothing column is called "Shopping List Revenge".

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, January 22

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 1945, future Cubs pitcher Jophery Brown was born. The story of Jophery Brown's Cubs career is a short one. He pitched exactly two innings of one game on a Saturday afternoon, September 21, 1968, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

Joe Niekro started that game for the Cubs against the Pirates, but he simply didn't have it. He gave up four runs in the fourth inning, so Cubs manager Leo Durocher sent Brown out to start the 5th inning.

The first batter he faced was Maury Wills. Wills singled to center. Freddie Patek batted second, and he sacrificed Wills to second base. Brown must not have felt too comfortable on the mound with Matty Alou, Roberto Clemente, and Don Clendenon due up next, but he buckled down, and got Alou to fly harmlessly to left field.

That brought up future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. There was no question what had to be done in this situation. Cubs catcher Randy Hundley held up four fingers, and Brown intentionally walked the fierce Pittsburgh slugger to face Don Clendenon.

If you mention the name Clendenon to Brown today, it would probably still elicit a groan from him, because Clendenon singled to left, driving in Maury Wills. That run turned out to be the only one given up by Jophery Brown in his big league career.

Brown pitched one more year in the minors after that, developed arm trouble, and retired from the game at the ripe old age of 24.

But Jophery Brown certainly didn't go quietly. Even during his minor league career he had dabbled in Hollywood, working as a stuntman for the television series "I Spy" (starring Bill Cosby). When his baseball career was officially over, he returned to Hollywood and was soon working steadily.

Among his 117 feature films and television shows, Jophery Brown has done stunts for "Live and Let Die," "Papillon," "Smokey and the Bandit," "Convoy," "Foul Play," "The Blues Brothers," "Vacation," "Scarface," "To Live and Die in LA," "Die Hard," "Speed," "Get Shorty" and all three "Lethal Weapon" movies.

In 2006, he was interviewed about his stuntman career by the Las Vegas Review Journal...

Jophery Brown worked during the time before computer-generated graphics came along or before greater emphasis was placed on stunt safety. Working in the early 1970s meant, as a stuntman, you had to rely on your physical abilities more than anything else, he says. "You're an athlete. You couldn't be a stuntperson without being an athlete," he says. "You've got to have a degree of insanity to do this. But you didn't want crazy stuntpeople. They get you hurt." Still, "something hurts me every day," says Jophery Brown, who is semiretired and will double only for Morgan Freeman these days. In the past, he has doubled for dozens of actors, including Danny Glover, Gregory Hines, Mr. T and Denzel Washington.

The many famous people on Jophery Brown's "Brushes with Greatness" list are truly astounding, but if you asked him which celebrity impressed him the most, would it be one of those Hollywood legends with stars on the Walk of Fame, or would it be one of his teammates with plaques in Baseball's Hall of Fame?

Hall of Famer Billy Williams played left field behind him and threw the ball back to the infield after Clendenon's RBI hit. Ron Santo was at third base. Fergie Jenkins was a fellow member of Brown's pitching staff. Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, was the heart and soul of that 1968 team. Even the manager of the Cubs, Leo Durocher, was a future Hall of Famer.

That's not to say that Brown's Hollywood career hasn't been remarkable, because it surely has. But how many players in MLB history managed to play only two innings in the big leagues, and can still say they played for a Hall of Famer, played with four Hall of Famers, and pitched to another Hall of Famer?

I'm betting Jophery Brown has told that story to his Hollywood friends more than a few times, and even they were impressed.