Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Doug Dahlgren

This week's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview has been posted. I spoke with former Super-CFL jock Doug Dahlgren. In the mid-70s, he formed one half of the team "Dick & Doug".

You can read the interview here.

Cubs 365, March 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 1968, the Cubs released a Monster. Dick Radatz was power-pitching reliever, and a former fireman of the year. His towering presence and 95-mile-per-hour fastball made him baseball's most dominant relief pitcher in the mid-1960s and earned him the unforgettable nickname of "The Monster" when he was with the Red Sox.

He also pitched for Cleveland, but by the time the Indians sent him to the Cubs, he didn't have much left. He had lost the movement on his fastball, tried to become a finesse pitcher, and just couldn't do it. His ERA with the Cubs was 6.56. He pitched one season for them in '67, and was released before the season in 1968.

The Tigers claimed him, but during their World Championship season that year, Radatz wasn't good enough to make the big league club. He got his last taste of the big leagues the following year with Detroit and Montreal, before hanging it up for good at the end of 1969.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coming this weekend

This weekend's Chicago Radio Spotlight will shine on former WCFL jock Doug Dahlgren. He was a star in Chicago during the 1970s, and tells some tales from those days. Look for that tomorrow morning.

On Sunday, I'll be posting a new Father Knows Nothing column. This week's column will be the story of a burly man protecting his home from dead animal carcasses. Your admiration of this hero will know no bounds.

Just One Bad Century will also continue this weekend. At the website, we'll go back in time to this week in 1908 and this week in 1945. At the blog, Cubs 365 will tell stories about a monster and a knuckleballer.

If you're out and about tonight, stop by Kim's book launch party for "Down at the Golden Coin" (2113 W. Roscoe St., 6-9pm). I'll be tending bar for part of the festivities, as will my Eckhartz Press business partner Dave Stern. In case, I'm being too subtle, maybe I should just come out and say it: "There will be alcohol there."

Have a great weekend!

Cubs 365, March 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 1960, the Cubs decided to paint their iconic Wrigley Field Marquee a flashier color. It's been red ever since. Before 1960, it looked like this...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Fine Mess

My regular column for Shore Magazine is called "A Fine Mess" and in the current issue of the magazine I write about my wife's obsession with HGTV family of cable networks. You can read it here.

SC Green White

One of my on-going writing projects is chronicling the history of the soccer club my father co-founded; S.C. Green White. Each month I'm focusing on one year in Green White history. This month, it's 1962.

1962 was a big year in my family; the year my parents were married. It's also the year this Green White logo was designed (by my father).

You can read the full story here.

"Down at the Golden Coin" Book Launch Party

The official book launch party for "Down at the Golden Coin" will take place tomorrow night (March 23rd) at the August House Studio.

Address: 2113 West Roscoe Street in Chicago, between Damen and Western (near Hamilton).
Time: 6-9pm.

Naturally, the book will be for sale there, and Author Kim Strickland (photo above) will personally autograph your copy.

For more information about the August House Studio, Click Here.

For more information about "Down at the Golden Coin", Click Here.

If you can't make it to the party and still want to order a copy, Click Here.

Cubs 365, March 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 1932, a future Cub was born. His nickname was "Bull", but he wasn't the one that let a groundball through his legs in the 1984 NLCS. This "Bull" was a pitcher named Al Schroll.

The Cubs got the big Louisiana kid from the Red Sox for Bobby Thomson, but he didn't exactly turn out to be the pitcher they had hoped. His Cubs career lasted 2 2/3 innings, and in those innings he posted an ERA of 10.13.

Schroll got one more cup of coffee with Twins the following season (1961), and during that season he made history along with fellow Twins pitcher Jack Kralik. For more than forty years it was the last time that two pitchers on the same team had hit a homer in the same game. Schroll hit his off Al Fowler, who later became Billy Martin's pitching coach with the World Champion Yankees.

Bull Schroll passed away in Louisiana in 1999 at the age of 67.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Reader Reviews for "The Living Wills"

We've been getting a lot of e-mails lately from people that have just finished reading "The Living Wills". Here are a few highlights...

LMR writes: "I just finished reading Living Wills and I absolutely loved it! I could barely put it down - read it in less than 48 hours - lol. I'm a pretty avid reader and I have to tell you that this one of the best stories I have ever read and the telling of it is simply superb. It somewhat reminded me of The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Alboms, which I liked, but yours is a better story, better read and I enjoyed it so much more. If Albom can achieve bestseller status with his, there is no reason you can't with this. LW is definitely now one of my favorite books and I will be highly recommending it! Can't wait for your next book to come out. Congratulations on a fine piece of work."

SM writes: "Read your book in less than a week. I couldn't put it down. It was tremendously entertaining...although you did make me cry."

LW writes: "I loved the story! I enjoyed the fact that the story took place in Chicago, the characters were everday people that you could relate to, and best of all, the story made me both laugh and cry."

Meeting Catholic Celebrities

This week's Suburban Dad contribution to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow has been posted. It's called "Meeting Catholic Celebrities".

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, March 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 1880, Bronco Billy Anderson was born. At the time of the Cubs World Series dynasty, he was a huge movie star. Chicago was also the movie capitol of the world at the time, thanks to Bronco Billy's movie studio, Essanay.

The studio was located on Argyle Street in the Uptown neighborhood. At that time there was still quite a bit of open space to film in that neighborhood, and Essanay preferred to shoot outdoors if possible. They also built an indoor studio at that location.

On the day the studio was opened in 1907, the Cubs were in the midst of a magical season, on their way to their first World Series title. The Cubs built one of the greatest dynasties in baseball history, and Essanay was doing the same on Argyle Street.

Anderson was the talent. He was a former vaudeville actor who became famous playing one of the outlaws in the 1903 mega-hit, "The Great Train Robbery".

Essanay quickly became the studio for westerns and comedy. "Bronco Billy" cranked out one western a week for 376 straight weeks. (A few were shot in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, the rest at Essanay locations in Colorado or California.)

Despite Bronco Billy's success, however, the studio really lived and died with another star that came a few years later, Charlie Chaplin. He created maybe his most famous film of all time, "The Tramp", during his Essanay era. Other Essanay Chaplin titles include "The Champion", "The Bank", and "Shanghaied." But most of Chaplin's Essanay work wasn't filmed in Chicago. The only one he shot here was "His New Job."

Essanay studios was only operating in Chicago for eleven years, but in those years, the Cubs were in the World Series three times, and began playing their games in what is now known as Wrigley Field. It was a critical era in Cubs and Chicago history.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

E-mails, we get e-mails...

"BP" writes:

"Take a good look at Johnny Trolley Line Butler's picture on your blog today. He could be your great grandfather."


Release Date!

The post office is busy shipping out the pre-orders of "Down at the Golden Coin" today.

Meanwhile, a very nice review of the book was posted on Karyn Bowman's blog "Notes from Rumbly Cottage".

A highlight: "It was bright, introspective, unfailingly honest. Sarcasm is spoken well here. I am the type of person who reads for beautiful descriptive sentences. There is this one… “Like no other man I’ve known, Jake reeks of success.“ It tells me everything I need to know about this guy, at least what he looks like – his confidence, his swagger. I also look for characters to remain true to their basic personality traits. When a messiah comes along to give you a message, I wonder how any of us would act but I knew Annie was being real. She was scared but intrigued, as much as she said she wanted real answers the truth of her life frightened her. More importantly, I never felt that Annie, Violet or the other characters acted unlike themselves. They stayed true to themselves, stayed true to their codes which can be really hard when the writer is fighting for a happy ending. The book was worth my time, a worthwhile read. If Kim tells me she has another book coming out, you can bet I am in line waiting for my copy."

Get your copy of the book today! It's just one click away.

Cubs 365, March 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 1893, future Cub Johnny "Trolley Line" Butler was born. He more than likely acquired his nickname thanks to the town of Butler, Pennsylvania, which featured a well-known Trolley line (the Butler Short Line).

Butler didn't have much power (3 career home runs), and he didn't hit that well (career .252 hitter), but he was a pretty good glove man in the infield, and he was versatile. Trolley Line Butler played 3B/SS for 1928 Cubs.

Butler only played four seasons in the big leagues--two years with Brooklyn before joining the Cubs, and one season with the Cardinals in 1929. By the turn of the decade, the Trolley Line was shut down.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Down at the Golden Coin

It's a big day for Eckhartz Press. This morning we picked up several boxes of our second book, "Down at the Golden Coin" by Kim Strickland.

Tomorrow is the official release date.

Order your copy today. We'll send it out immediately.

Proud Papa

Last night I attended a special dinner with my oldest son Tommy (shown here 15 years, or a blink of an eye, ago). It was the sort of dinner I never imagined I would attend. First of all, it was hosted by the Archdiocese, and while I am raising my kids Catholic (and was raised Catholic myself), I'm not exactly known as the most devout member of the flock. Secondly, it was held to honor youth leadership and dedication, and my kids are good kids, but those two words are not the first that come to mind.

Yet, when it was time to honor someone for "outstanding service, dedication, and faithfulness to the Church in the area of Community Service and Social Justice," the name the Bishop of the Vicariate called out was: Tommy Kaempfer. Tommy was recognized because he has been volunteering every week at the soup kitchen near us for the past four years. He doesn't do it to be recognized, or to pad his "extra curricular" resume. He does it because he enjoys helping. And that's why they chose him.

I've never been prouder of the boy.

Cubs 365, March 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 1927, future Cub Richie Ashburn was born. While it was great to have the Hall of Famer Ashburn covering centerfield for the 1960 and 1961 Cubs, the lifetime .308 hitter was long past his prime. He put up those Hall of Fame numbers mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The stories about Ashburn from his early days are legendary. He loved hitting so much he slept with his Louisville Slugger when he was in slump. He was a speedy singles hitter who won two batting titles, finished second three times, and hit over .300 nine times.

By the time he came to the Cubs, unfortunately, his career was declining and he no longer had the speed he exhibited early in his career. Ashburn was a five time all-star, but none of those appearances came with the Cubs. The Cubs let him to go in the expansion draft of 1962, and he finished his career as the only all-star on the worst team of all-time, the 1962 Mets.

After his playing career ended, he became a beloved announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies. He died in 1997, two years after he was elected into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Catalyst For Collaboration

That's the title of Rick Kogan's column in the Printer's Row section of the Chicago Tribune this weekend. He wrote a very nice piece about "The Living Wills" (pages 18-19), which included this photograph by Terrence James.

Thanks so much to Rick, Terrence, and the Chicago Tribune.

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted my latest Father Knows Nothing column. It's called "Another Middle Aged Road Trip" and chronicles my adventures in Arizona.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, March 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 1916, future Cub Hiram Bithorn was born. Along with catcher Chico Hernandez, Hi Bithorn (1942-1946) was part of the very first all-Latin battery in Cubs history. Bithorn was from Puerto Rico, the first Puerto Rican to ever play Major League baseball.

Known for his high leg kick, he had one great season with the Cubs in 1943, winning 18 games with seven shutouts, and an ERA of 2.60. Unfortunately, he was drafted into the military during World War II, and after he returned from the Navy he had gained 45 pounds. Bithorn tried to pitch for the Cubs in 1946, but didn't have anything left in the tank. The two-year layoff was too much to overcome.

His life took a tragic turn while he was trying to make a comeback in the Mexican League. On New Years Day in 1952, he was shot to death by a policeman in Mexico, in what is still considered a mysterious case.

Bithorn is still a hero in Puerto Rico, and the Montreal Expos played some of their home games in their final season, in Puerto Rico at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.