Friday, June 08, 2012


Our dog Ivy was skunked last night in the backyard. We didn't realize it until she came back in the house, and the smell got everywhere. Ivy has been washed repeatedly with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda (which she loved), but it looks like the rug in the living room is ruined, and the house reeks.

Good times.

Cubs 365, June 8

On this day in 2003, the Cubs faced off against the New York Yankees in an inter-league game at Wrigley Field.

It was supposed to be a pitcher's duel, Andy Pettitte vs. Mark Prior, but it turned into a slugfest instead. Jason Giambi, Raul Mondesi, and Robin Ventura (remember him?) all homered for the Yankees in the game, and Alfonso Soriano added a double. He was still a second baseman at the time--and showed why he would eventually be moved to the outfield when he also committed a costly error.

But despite the strong Yankees lineup, the Cubs came out victorious (8-7). They knocked Pettitte out of the game before the second inning was over (one of the shortest starts of his career). Moises Alou and Ramon Martinez both went yard against him.

The game also featured a hitting milestone. In the bottom of the seventh, with the Cubs up 6-3, Sammy Sosa stepped into the box against Yankees pitcher Juan Acevedo. Sosa ripped a single into left field, scoring Alex Gonzalez with the seventh run. It was the 2000th hit of his career, and it came while he was appealing his 8-game suspension for using a corked bat (in another inter-league game against the Tampa Devil Rays only five days earlier).

Sosa finished his career with 2408 hits.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Brendan on the Radio

My co-author Brendan Sullivan (photo) was recently on the Skinny & Houli show in Chicago. Skinny is the legendary Skinny Sheehan, and Houli is Mike Houlihan, a former writer for the Sun-Times, and a fixture in the Chicago theater community.

The three Southside Irishmen talked about our book "The Living Wills" and much more. The podcast is here.

Postscript: Houli recently posted this about our book on Brendan's Facebook page..."Brendan-just finished your book a few days ago, it was wonderful, lots of tears in the end, great read, thanks so much."

Cubs 365, June 7

On this day in 1945, while the Cubs were surging toward their final National League pennant, future Cubs catcher George Mitterwald was born.

Acquired in a trade for Randy Hundley in 1974, Mitterwald started the 1970s mustachioed Cubs catcher tradition. Steve Swisher, Dave Rader, Larry Cox, Barry Foote, and Tim Blackwell would all follow in his bushy facial footsteps before the end of the decade. Some of those other guys had better mustaches, but none would bring the lumber to the plate like big ol' George. He hit 26 home runs for the Cubs.

Granted, that was in four full seasons, but still..

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Intentionally Walked with the Bases Loaded

It happened once to feared Cubs slugger Bill Nicholson.

That's today's Tale from a Bad Century at JOBC.

Cubs 365, June 6

On this day in 1999, former Cub Eddie Stanky passed away at the age of 83.

In his playing days, they called him "The Brat" because he was a professional irritant. Leo Durocher pegged him with his nickname when he said: "Look at Mel Ott over there [in the Giant's dugout]. He's a nice guy, and he finishes second. Now look at The Brat (Stanky). He can't hit, can't run, can't field. He's no nice guy, but all the little SOB can do is win."

Branch Rickey described Stanky the same way: "He can't hit, he can't run, he can't field, he can't throw, he can't do a goddamn thing…but beat you."

The ultimate rub-some-dirt-in-it gritty second baseman started out as a Cub (1943), but was traded to the Dodgers half way through his second season for a journeyman pitcher named Bob Chipman. The Cubs thought they had a better second baseman to replace him: Don Johnson. Johnson did start at 2B for the last Cubs World Series team in 1945, but Stanky went on to play in three World Series, was named to three All-Star teams, led the league in on-base percentage twice, and most famously started the ninth-inning rally that culminated in Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run.

After his playing career was over he managed the White Sox (in '66 and '67—while his mentor Durocher was managing the Cubs across town), and in 1977, the Texas Rangers. He quit the Rangers after one day because he couldn't stand the modern ballplayers.

Meet Randy & Kim

This weekend you'll have several chances to meet Eckhartz Press authors Randy Richardson and Kim Strickland.

*At Randy's Barnes & Noble appearance/book signing at Woodfield on Saturday, you may even have a chance to win a Nook.
Randy Richardson's Cheeseland: Enter to Win NOOK Simple Touch
Saturday June 09, 2012 1:00 PM, Schaumburg, Woodfield Plaza Shopping Center, 590 East Golf Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173, 847-310-0450

*You can meet Kim on Saturday from 2-4pm. She'll be at the Printers Row Lit Fest, in the Society of Midland Authors Tent (tent HH) on Polk Street west of Dearborn. (Click here to see a map.)

*And then on Sunday, Randy will be there too, except he'll be in the Chicago Writer's Association tent, under Tent H (the Chicago Books United tent) on Dearborn. Randy is the president of the CWA, so he'll be there quite awhile. Stop by and say hello.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Eckhartz Press night

A few photos from our recent Eckhartz Press Night at the Hidden Shamrock on Halsted Street...

(Left) Randy Richardson reading from his book "Cheeseland"

(Below) The entire Eckhartz Press stable being interviewed by moderator Mary Beth Hoerner. From left to right: Mary Beth, Brendan Sullivan, Rick Kaempfer, Kim Strickland and Randy Richardson.

Cubs 365, June 5

On this day in 1985, the Cubs played a baseball game that would be immortalized in film.

That was the game featured in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". If you've seen the movie, you probably remember the three goof offs spending the day at the ballpark. It wasn't a recreated game--it was an actual Wednesday afternoon game at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs were hosting the Atlanta Braves, and the score was tied in the top of the 11th inning with the Braves batting. Claudell Washington was batting against Lee Smith as Leon Durham held Paul Zuvella on first base. In the movie, the fry cook tells Mr. Rooney, who sees it on television, that the score at that point was 0-0 (though the actual score was 2-2).

The Cubs eventually lost that game in the 11th inning. Washington flied out for the first out of the inning. The batter after Washington was Rafael Ramirez and he hit a two run home run off Lee Smith to win the game.

The Cubs completely collapsed that season after their entire starting rotation spent time on the disabled list. The only other highlight of the the 1985 season was when Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb’s record in Wrigley Field that September.

Monday, June 04, 2012

RIP Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson passed away over the weekend at the age of 79.

Most of the pieces I saw about him mention Family Feud first, but for me, he'll always be Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes...

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Adam Delevitt

On Saturday morning I posted my last Chicago Radio Spotlight for awhile. It's with ESPN program director Adam Delevitt.

I'm taking the rest of the summer off from writing that blog because it's so time consuming, and there's really no way possible to conduct professional interviews while all three boys are home with me.

Over the past five years I've conducted more than 200 interviews of Chicago radio personalities. Those interviews will remain on the site for anyone who wants to read them.

Will CRS return in the fall? I'm not 100% sure yet. With the success of Eckhartz Press, my schedule has gotten insanely busy, so I've been thinking of quietly retiring Chicago Radio Spotlight. I may change my mind after a few months off, but that's where my head is right now.

Thirty Years Ago Today

The best Star Trek movie (in my opinion) was released...

Cubs 365, June 4

On this day in 1970, the Cubs drafted their future ace pitcher Rick Reuschel.

He was dubbed Big Daddy by teammate Mike Krukow, because at 6'3", 235 pounds, he didn't much look like someone who could pass for a professional athlete, let alone be one. For the decade of the 1970s, Rick Reuschel was the best pitcher on the Cubs. He got 135 of his 214 career wins for Chicago, which is the second highest win total of any Cubs pitcher since World War II (behind only Fergie Jenkins).

Big Daddy won 10 or more games for nine years in a row (1972-1980), and on August 21, 1975, he and his brother Paul became the first brothers to combine on a major league shutout. After an injury plagued stint with the Yankees, the Cubs re-signed him, and he pitched for them again in '83 and '84, but they let him go because they thought he was done.

He wasn't. He won 70 more games for the Pirates and Giants over the next seven seasons.

If you missed yesterday's Cubs 365, it was the anniversary of a Ken Holtzman no-hitter.

If you missed Saturday's Cubs 365, it was the birthday of Larry Jackson.