Sunday, December 19, 2010

RIP Phil Cavarretta

Phil Cavarretta died yesterday in Georgia at the age of 94.

For twenty years Phil was the face of the Cubs. He was a Chicago boy (Lane Tech), started playing for the Cubs as a teenager in the mid 30s, was the MVP of the league during their last pennant winning season of 1945, and played with them until he was fired during spring training of 1954 (he was also the manager at the time).

With Phil's passing only two players remain from that last Cubs World Series team. Lennie Merullo will be 93 this year. Andy Pafko will be 90.

Friday, December 3, 2010

RIP Ron Santo

 Sad, sad news. Ron Santo passed away at the age of 70. Full details are here.

He never got to see the Cubs win the World Series. He never made it into the Hall of Fame. And there haven't been many people in the world that more desperately wanted both. That's the first thing I thought of when I heard he died this morning. I'm sure most Cub fans thought the same thing. That, and it's not going to be the same listening to the Cubs on the radio without him.

I met Ron once about ten years ago and he was very nice to me, but I don't claim to know him at all. I did, however, talk to a few people the past few years that were among his closest friends.

*****

One of them was his broadcast partner Pat Hughes.

We discussed Ron...

Rick: Your chemistry with Ron Santo is really amazing—it’s like yin and yang. He is pure emotion—and you are the voice of reason. I’m sure that’s part of the secret to your chemistry, but there’s obviously more to it than that. It seems like you also have real affection for each other. Would that be fair to say?

Pat: Yes it would. We have amazing harmony, very few bad vibes. Forget baseball, he’s just an extraordinary human being. I’ve never met anyone like him. Beyond baseball, he’s an icon for diabetics everywhere. What he’s been through! What he’s accomplished! Ron’s an inspiration.

Rick: Have the two of you ever had a fight?

Pat: (laughs) Hell no. Anytime you work together as long as we have, you have a few minor little disagreements, but nothing bad. Never.

Rick: I used to love when you did the attendance game with him and you beat him every day. Even for something like that—his emotions were on his sleeve—he would get so upset. I know that’s what Cub fans love about him. As much as it hurts us to lose, we can hear in his voice that it hurts him even more. Do you ever worry that the strain of that is having a detrimental effect on his health?

Pat: I used to, but not anymore. The man is 70 years old. He’s had diabetes, and cancer. He’s lost his bladder and his legs. He’s gone through everything you can imagine. Why would you worry anymore? He’s like a superman, a man of steel. Plus, I think it’s better for him to get it out of his system, than to let it build up inside him.

*****

Todd Manley was the WGN production director for years, and he beautifully captured the spirit of the Pat & Ron broadcasts in his promos...
PAT AND RON PROMO--A Steamy Fan
PAT AND RON PROMO--The Marrying Type
PAT AND RON PROMO--Snot
PAT & RON PROMO--I Dream of Jeannie

******

I also interviewed Andy Masur, his former colleague at WGN, now the play by play man of the San Diego Padres...

Rick: The years you were at WGN were a roller coaster ride for Ron Santo; from the lows of his health problems and the Hall of Fame snubs, to the highs of the day his number was retired, and the Cubs 2003 playoff run. Was that time an emotional time for the rest of you in the booth too?

Andy: First off, I must say, that Ron Santo is one of my heroes. Not for his play on the field, but for his work and passion off the field. He was a great player, no doubt, but he’s an even better person. Ron is one of the toughest human beings I have ever met. With all the physical problems he’s encountered over the past 8 or so years, I never once heard the man utter the words “why me?” Never. That’s a quality few people have. I think about Ron every day.

As far as 2003 goes, I’m just now finding that I’m able to talk about the year and how it started and finished. Ron’s Hall of Fame snub in February of that year was devastating to all of us in the booth. He really felt that it was his year. It didn’t happen. The Cubs played remarkable baseball that season, and I’ll never forget after they clinched the division with the double header sweep of the Pirates, how many of the players I interviewed in the clubhouse, were saying “this is for Ron”.

I remember the next day, when Ron’s number was retired, looking at the sign on the fence behind the bleachers in left field “Ron Santo a perfect 10” and thinking, this has to make him feel 100 feet tall. It did. An honor well deserved.

The shame of it all though, was Ron didn’t get to enjoy the playoffs in the booth. Another health scare kept him out, and all of us in the booth, from Pat to Matt Boltz, were devastated that Ron wouldn’t be with us. I’ll never forget Pat’s call at the end of the Braves series, “Ron Santo this one’s for you!”, I still seriously get choked up just thinking about it.

So to answer your original question, yes, it was a great year, but a very emotional year for all of us.

******

A few years ago the Associated Press did a story about Ron, and they interviewed me as part of the piece, to get a fan's perspective. Here's a portion of that article...

People around Santo have gone to him and suggested he "detach himself a little bit," said Bob Brenly, a former broadcast partner who is now an analyst for the team's television broadcasts. "But it's not in him," he said.

Even fans have taken notice.

"When he's not on the broadcast I'm actually worried about his health," said Rick Kaempfer, a lifelong fan who has a website (www.justonebadcentury.com) devoted to the Cubs.

Santo also has something that fans like Kaempfer value above everything else. Hope. No matter what happens, no matter how many years and how many ways the Cubs fail, Santo does not give up hope.

"I heard him talking about how the Rockies won 21 in a row a few years ago (at one stretch they won 21 of 22 games), hanging his hat on that, saying it could be us," Kaempfer said.

It is Santo's devotion to his team and his optimism that he will see the Cubs win a World Series title that helps explain the attachment that fans like Kaempfer have to Santo.

"It unifies Cub Fans," Kaempfer said.


******

What kind of a man was he to Cub fans? This story about meeting Ron in the summer of 1963 captures it about as well as any story I've ever heard...



******

As for me, I remember watching this game from the summer of 1970. The game he hit three home runs. Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd had the call.

That's the way I'm going to remember him.

Rest in Peace, Ron Santo. Cub nation already misses you. To be honest, I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maddux vs. Maddux

His older brother Mike was the established NL pitcher, and Greg was just the upstart young pup with the Cubs, but on this day in 1986 Maddux went up against Maddux.

Greg beat Mike 8-3 for his second career major league victory.

Jody Davis hit a homer and knocked in five runs for the Cubs.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dempsey-Tunney

On this day in 1927, the biggest boxing match in Chicago history took place in Soldier Field.

Jack Dempsey (photo) fought Gene Tunney.

Al Capone and several members of the Chicago Cubs were in the crowd for the fight (although, not together).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Waitle Nex Yeare

Last year on this day, Just One Bad Century got some attention and publicity when we took out a birth announcement for a little baby named "Waitle Nex Yeare."

It was obviously a joke, though many people fell for it. I did an appearance at a book club (for my novel "$everance") shortly after that ad came out, and when one of the women realized I was the guy that took out that ad, she said: "Oh my god! You're the Waitle Nex Year guy? We were talking about that instead of our book last week."

This year we could have taken out the ad on May 1st.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nice Guys Finish Last

I've been getting a lot of e-mails lately asking for recommendations for baseball books (What? The Cubs aren't doing it for you this year?). I can tell you which book I always mention first. The University of Chicago Press recently re-released "Nice Guys Finish Last," the autobiography of Leo Durocher.

I reviewed it last year at this time for the Beachwood Reporter. You can read that review here.

If you're looking for a novel, check out "The Man With Two Arms" by Billy Lombardo. I reviewed that one here.

If you love baseball, you'll love both books.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

RIP Bobby Thomson


The Flying Scot was a Cub for a few years, but everyone remembers him as the man that hit the walk off home run to clinch the pennant for the New York Giants.

He passed away yesterday at the age of 86.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harry and Elvis

On this day in 1977, the King of Rock and Roll passed away at the age of 42. Thousands of Elvis fans are currently flocking to Memphis to pay tribute to the man, but one story they probably won't tell or hear is this one: The day Harry Caray met Elvis Presley...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baseball Striking Again


It happened on this day in 1994. Baseball went on strike...again!

John Landecker and the Legends paid musical tribute to the moment. 

I wrote the words in a fit of love/hate.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bill Campbell



Like any player with that last name, his nickname was Soup.

Today's his birthday. He's 62.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wear your emotions on your chest




Every season there comes a time when the JOBC logo perfectly describes your emotions. If you're a Cubs fan, that time is now.

Buy your JOBC merchandise here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walter Jacobson


One of Chicago's favorite TV newsmen, Walter Jacobson, turns 73 today. You may know him as a journalist, but I always like to think of him as a Cubs fan.

And a guy that shares my birthday. (Although I'm 26 years younger)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some great Andre Dawson highlights

Featuring the voices of our departed announcers Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, and Lou Boudreau...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Andre Dawson: Hall of Famer

I thought this was a nice recap of some of Andre Dawson's career highlights.

Always loved the Hawk. He richly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He may not be wearing a Cubs hat in the Hall, but he'll always be a Cub to us.

There will certainly never be another Montreal Expo in the Hall of Fame. It's nice that someone is wearing their hat.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Marla Collins



On this day in 1986 the Cubs did the unimaginable...

They fired ballgirl Marla Collins.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joke for a Tuesday morning


Thanks to "DS" for contributing this one...




I met a fairy today who granted me one wish. "I want to live forever " I said.

"Sorry" said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant wishes like that!"

"Fine" I said, "I want to die when the Cubs win the World Series!"

"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Steve Goodman

This is a feel good story.

The Senate passed a bill yesterday naming the post office near Wrigley Field after Steve Goodman.

Great to see them temporarily unlocking the gridlock in the United States Senate. It passed unanimously after getting a 371-0 vote in the House. And then the entire House and Senate sang "Go Cubs Go,"* which I found to be a nice touch.


*I might have made that last part up.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Not so fast, Seaver...

...first you have to retire Cubs reserve outfielder Jimmy Qualls.

He didn't.

It would have been a no-hitter if he did...on this day in 1969.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ron Santo

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of Ron Santo's first game as a Chicago Cub. He batted sixth and played third base.

In the second inning, he singled in his first Major League at bat.

In the fifth inning, with the Cubs trailing 2-0, Pirates pitcher Bob Friend intentionally walked Cubs outfielder George Altman to load the bases, so he could face the rookie third baseman again.

This time, Santo cleared the bases with a double, the first three RBIs of his big league career.

He was twenty years old.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey was born on this day in 1895.

He was one of the most famous Americans in the 1920s. During that time he became acquainted with a certain scarfaced gangster in Chicago--and that caused him quite a bit of embarrassment the night of his biggest fight.

Several of the Chicago Cubs were on hand to witness it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Most Notorious Cubs Fan Ever

It's a pretty stiff competition; there are a few that could claim the title.

But we say it's this guy.

After all,  he was Public Enemy #1.

He was born on this day in 1902.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Harry and Cracker Jacks

On this day in 1993, on the 100th anniversary of Cracker Jacks, the company that makes the tasty treat made a terrible judgment call.

They asked Harry Caray to talk about them...

Around 350,000 people have viewed the video we created about that memorable day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Half Full

Here is an analysis of the Cubs #1 draft pick that makes me feel a little better than the posting below.

It's from Baseball Daily Digest
, which compares him to Tim Lincecum.

This analysis was provided before the draft, and he didn't think he would get picked in the first round...but at least he raves about him.

Things you don't want to read

An analysis of the draft, from the Major League expert at sports.com...
"The biggest surprise in the 2010 MLB Draft first round selections was at No. 16 by the Chicago Cubs, who dipped into Division II to take a player. Hayden Simpson was the selection by the Cubs, a nice pitcher at Southern Arkansas that didn't make it on to most of the draft boards of the experts here, on ESPN, or on the MLB Network."
Great. Just great. I'm sure this will turn out fine. Baseball America had him ranked 181st.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Andy Masur interview



Andy Masur is the radio play-by-play man for the San Diego Padres, but got his big break in his hometown of Chicago, at WGN-Radio.




Rick: First of all, belated congratulations on the San Diego Padres gig. Is this really your fourth season already? How are you liking it out there in San Diego. I hear the weather is terrible.

Andy: Thank you very much. Yes, I can’t believe that I’ve started my 4th season already either. Seems like only yesterday I was packing up my place in Chicago and moving across the country. I’m really enjoying things in San Diego. It took a little time to get used to the different pace on the west coast, but I’m all good now. Great people to work with, a good young team and oh yeah, the weather certainly is an added bonus.

Rick: How would you compare and contrast San Diego Padre fans with Cubs fans?

Andy: It’s a difficult comparison. The Cubs have been around for over 100 years, the Padres are only in their 42nd season, so there is not a ton of history to go on with the Padres. Cubs fans are a special bunch, rain or shine, win or loss, weekday or weekend, they show up to the ballpark. Wrigley Field is iconic and a great place to work and to watch a game. There is always a buzz surrounding the atmosphere there. People from all over thanks to the wide appeal of WGN-TV and WGN Radio, plan vacations and trips just to take in a Cubs game.

It’s a little different in San Diego. There are many things to do in town that don’t involve going to a game. Beaches, parks, and just the weather in general make it a secondary thought sometimes to go to a game. In San Diego, management understands this, and that is why it becomes so important to put a good product on the field. Not saying that it isn’t the same in Chicago, but it is critical in San Diego. Promotions, affordability, and a good product create the fan base, which is still growing with the Padres.

Rick: I know you grew up a Cubs fan. Do they ever make you say nice things about Steve Garvey, and if they do, does it make you sick to your stomach?

Andy: That is a funny question! My first year, one of my radio partners Ted Leitner, was giving me a hard time about it (jokingly of course) one night. He had this look on his face as if to say “I’ve got a surprise for you”, and sure enough, Garvey walked into our booth. Ted made sure I shook Garvey’s hand and we had a good laugh about it. Let’s put it to you this way, it was a difficult moment. To make matters worse, last year while the Cubs were in San Diego, the team celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1984 Padres. Ouch! But in all seriousness, you have to be able to separate your feelings. I’ve come to know Tony Gwynn Sr, and also Tim Flannery from that ’84 team, and they are good people and have been a big help to me. Don’t think though, that I don’t remind them both constantly that they ripped out my heart that season!

Rick: I just interviewed Pat Hughes not too long ago and we discussed the one inning a game that he takes a break. His break really turned out to be your big break too, didn't it?

Andy: It certainly did. I can remember when Dave Eanet (photo) the sports director at WGN radio asked me if I would mind doing a half inning of play by play in addition to my pre game and post game responsibilities, I’m not sure the entire question came out of his mouth before I said, I’LL DO IT! People may not realize how tough it was though to do just 3 outs a game. It was difficult to get into a rhythm with anything, but hey I wasn’t going to complain. It was such a pleasure to share the microphone with Pat and Ron. Imagine me, a kid growing up in Chicago, now in the booth as one of the announcers. It was amazing. The break certainly worked out in my favor and I can’t thank everybody there enough.

Rick: I'm guessing that working in that booth with Pat and Ron was a great learning experience. What are some of the things you learned from them that you've incorporated into your own approach on the air?

Andy: Pat was such a great mentor (and still is), he taught me more than I even realized back then. He has an ability to make the game come alive. From the descriptions of the uniforms, to the ivy on the wall you can actually see the game on the radio. Pat also has great command of the game. You always know what is going on, where the ball is, what the score is and the situation. He knows a lot about the strategy in the game and about it’s history. Pat is always prepared. He also has a great rapport with Ron. Pat treats Ron with great respect, and never puts him in a bad situation on the air.

I’ve tried to incorporate some of Pat’s traits, but at the same time, still you have to be yourself. I don’t want to be a Pat Hughes impersonator, but I think Pat is one of the best in the business and why wouldn’t I want to use some of his knowledge? I can’t even really begin to count the things I’ve learned from him. We stay in touch, and I couldn’t ask for a better role model in this business than Pat.

Rick: The years you were at WGN were a roller coaster ride for Ron Santo; from the lows of his health problems and the Hall of Fame snubs, to the highs of the day his number was retired, and the Cubs 2003 playoff run. Was that time an emotional time for the rest of you in the booth too?

Andy: First off, I must say, that Ron Santo is one of my heroes. Not for his play on the field, but for his work and passion off the field. He was a great player, no doubt, but he’s an even better person. Ron is one of the toughest human beings I have ever met. With all the physical problems he’s encountered over the past 8 or so years, I never once heard the man utter the words “why me?” Never. That’s a quality few people have. I think about Ron every day.

As far as 2003 goes, I’m just now finding that I’m able to talk about the year and how it started and finished. Ron’s Hall of Fame snub in February of that year was devastating to all of us in the booth. He really felt that it was his year. It didn’t happen. The Cubs played remarkable baseball that season, and I’ll never forget after they clinched the division with the double header sweep of the Pirates, how many of the players I interviewed in the clubhouse, were saying “this is for Ron”.

I remember the next day, when Ron’s number was retired, looking at the sign on the fence behind the bleachers in left field “Ron Santo a perfect 10” and thinking, this has to make him feel 100 feet tall. It did. An honor well deserved.

The shame of it all though, was Ron didn’t get to enjoy the playoffs in the booth. Another health scare kept him out, and all of us in the booth, from Pat to Matt Boltz, were devastated that Ron wouldn’t be with us. I’ll never forget Pat’s call at the end of the Braves series, “Ron Santo this one’s for you!”, I still seriously get choked up just thinking about it.

So to answer your original question, yes, it was a great year, but a very emotional year for all of us.

Rick: You've done quite a few different things in your radio career--everything from DJing, to traffic reporter and news anchor (at Metro), to sports anchor (at WGN & Sporting News Network), to play by play man. Is baseball play by play the job you've always wanted, or did you just happen to fall into this?

Andy: Baseball play by play was always my ultimate goal. I took a rather curious route to the booth, but I think it just proves that there is no right way or wrong way to get there. I had a blast in my early and mid 20’s playing top 40 music in Peoria, Illinois. When it was time for a change, I moved back to Chicago with the goal of getting on the air in a major market and I was able to do that with the Metro Networks traffic job. That morphed into a shot at doing sports thanks to current Bears play by play voice Jeff Joniak, who took a chance on a “green around the gills” wanna be sports guy. I worked hard at perfecting the craft. That eventually led to my job at WGN. My first play by play job in town was doing Loyola University basketball games, and after a season with the Ramblers, the play by play bug bit me. I think because I showed I could handle it, the powers that be at WGN felt comfortable with me doing the half inning of Cubs games. I don’t think any of us, including me, thought that the leap would be as large as it became.

Rick: It's not an easy job, either. How has that transition gone for you, now that you do it full time all season long?

Andy: The transition has gone well. I think I have it a bit easier with only doing play by play and a little work on the pre-game show. In Chicago I was basically the station’s Cubs reporter and had to go to the locker room after the game and file reports for the various sportscasts on WGN. Now my only real responsibility is doing the games, and I really enjoy that.

It took me a full season and almost midway into the second season of Padres games to really feel comfortable. They say it takes a baseball player around 500 at bats to feel like he belonged; well it took me nearly 500 games before it became like I felt I belonged. I really feel like I’ve gotten into a good groove now and I’m relaxed and really enjoying my job. Not to say that I don’t continue to work to be better, because I do, every day. I’m still very tough on myself, I listen back to innings, and calls every once in a while, just to see what I could have done better.

Rick: Do you make it back to Chicago in the off-season?

Andy: Yes I do. I get back usually a couple of times, once after our season ends and then once again around the holidays. I need to get my fill of winter and fall you know. All my family still lives there and it’s always great to be able to come home.

Worst Promotion Ever

Sometimes it's nice to hear about other teams' blunders.

On this day in 1974, the Cleveland Indians hosted Ten Cent Beer Night. Needless to say, it didn't go well. This song tells the story nicely...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Gale Sayers


One of the greatest players to play his home games at Wrigley Field wasn't even a baseball player.

Gale Sayers turned 67 years old over the weekend.

His greatest game ever was at Wrigley.

Friday, May 28, 2010

JFK

Tomorrow is the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth. I think of JFK every time I drive to a Cubs game.

Read about the Kennedy-Cubs symmetry here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

No perjury investigation against Sammy


It's not because they don't think he lied to Congress.

It's mainly because the five-year statute of limitations has expired.

Punky Brewster

On this day in 1986 the final Punky Brewster episode aired. I've only seen one episode of that show. Watch part of it, and see if you can guess why...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An interview with Pat Hughes



Pat Hughes has been the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Cubs on WGN Radio since 1996.









Rick: Doing baseball play by play is one of the most difficult jobs in radio. You have to paint a picture with words—something I think you do incredibly well, by the way, but you have to do it day in and day out, 162 games a year. Plus, baseball is a sport that has a lot of down time that needs to be filled. What do you consider the biggest challenge of the job?

Pat: I think the sheer volume of games—most people have no concept of what it’s like to do 162 games. Unless you’ve actually done it—it’s hard to describe how difficult that is. Add to that, the travel, which can be absolutely exhausting.

Take tonight as an example (we did this interview on Tuesday). The game starts at 7, so even it’s a quick game, it won’t be over until 10 or so. Then I have to drive to the airport, wait for the team to arrive, and if we’re lucky, we’ll leave Chicago around 12:30. We’re going to Philadelphia, which means we lose an hour, so it’s really going to be 1:30 when we leave. We’ll arrive there at 3:30 or so, wait for our bags, get to the hotel around 4:00, wait for our luggage again, get checked into our rooms, and by the time this 54-year-old head hits the pillow, it will be 5:30 in the morning. The travel is probably the most grueling part of the job.

Rick: This is your fifteenth season with the Cubs, and you’ve obviously had to broadcast your fair share of games when the Cubs are out of the race, or out of the game. I would guess that’s when it really gets really difficult. Do you prepare extra material for games or seasons like that?

Pat: I kind of do. I have a baseball history file as thick as Webster’s Dictionary for each month, and you get a sense when you’re going to need to dip into it more. But you’re right—that’s a very good observation. It’s much more difficult during a losing year.

Rick: You’re obviously a student of the art form. I read your book about Harry Caray, and I know you’ve also narrated a series about other greats like Bob Uecker, Jack Buck, Harry Kalas, and Marty Brennaman. There are some more I’m forgetting...

Pat: Red Barber’s another. There are a few more. You can check them all out at baseballvoices.com.

Rick: It’s obvious you look up to all of them for different reasons, but is there one broadcaster that you consider the very best?

Pat: Personally, my favorite was Bill King (photo). He was the radio voice of the Raiders, the Warriors, and the A’s in the Bay Area. He passed away about five years ago. He was an absolute Bay Area legend. I considered him to be a genius. In my opinion, he was the best radio play by play man in history—no-one else is even close.

There have been three grand masters, in my view. One of them is Vin Scully—he’s tremendous—truly great. The second is Bob Costas, who in a way is in a class by himself, because of all he does in all the different venues and sports, in studio and play by play—just amazing, and the third is Bill King.

Those three are above all the rest, even better than some of the other greats like Al Michaels. That’s my opinion, anyway.

Rick: Your chemistry with Ron Santo is really amazing—it’s like yin and yang. He is pure emotion—and you are the voice of reason. I’m sure that’s part of the secret to your chemistry, but there’s obviously more to it than that. It seems like you also have real affection for each other. Would that be fair to say?

Pat: Yes it would. We have amazing harmony, very few bad vibes. Forget baseball, he’s just an extraordinary human being. I’ve never met anyone like him. Beyond baseball, he’s an icon for diabetics everywhere. What he’s been through! What he’s accomplished! Ron’s an inspiration.

Rick: Have the two of you ever had a fight?

Pat: (laughs) Hell no. Anytime you work together as long as we have, you have a few minor little disagreements, but nothing bad. Never.

Rick: I used to love when you did the attendance game with him and you beat him every day. Even for something like that—his emotions were on his sleeve—he would get so upset. I know that’s what Cub fans love about him. As much as it hurts us to lose, we can hear in his voice that it hurts him even more. Do you ever worry that the strain of that is having a detrimental effect on his health?

Pat: I used to, but not anymore. The man is 70 years old. He’s had diabetes, and cancer. He’s lost his bladder and his legs. He’s gone through everything you can imagine. Why would you worry anymore? He’s like a superman, a man of steel. Plus, I think it’s better for him to get it out of his system, than to let it build up inside him.

Rick: How would you compare working with Ron to working with Bob Uecker?

Pat: It’s a totally different format. In Milwaukee we worked solo really, switching off play by play. In Chicago, other than the inning or so I get off, I do all of the play by play, and Ron does all the color.

In some ways the two of them are similar: They’re among the most popular figures in the history of their respective cities, they’re both ex-players, although granted—a slightly different caliber—Ron was a great player and Uecker was more of a mediocre one. But I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have worked with both of them. In addition, I worked with Harry Caray for two years, and did Marquette basketball with Al McGuire. Those are some larger than life personalities. I’m lucky to have known and worked with all of them.

Rick: Obviously your workday isn’t just the broadcast itself. You’ve already mentioned the travel, but take me through a typical game day, before the game. I understand you have a few rituals.

Pat: I do have a routine, like anyone. I do prep, I read as much as I can, because I like to know what I’m talking about, but I don’t overdo it—you don’t want to just give stats all game, but if you pull out the right ones, that’s the secret to making it compelling. As for my routine, I like to work out every day.

I’m not obsessed with baseball or talking like most broadcasters are. Most of them are natural yakkers, and talking about the game itself is just a natural extension of how they are the rest of the day. I’m not that way. For me, it’s a performance, there’s an element of acting involved. I don’t talk talk talk all day—rehashing what just happened. I couldn’t live that way. When the game is over I move on.

Rick: As you mentioned earlier, in the past few years you’ve gotten to take off an inning or a half inning—and turned over the microphone to Andy Masur, then Cory Provus, and this year it’s Judd Sirott. Was that something you asked for in your contract—to get a little breather during the game?

Pat: Absolutely. I’ll continue to ask for that, because I really do need it. I don’t think people appreciate how difficult it is to do a whole game like that without a break—especially if you make it sound fun and easy. If it sounds easy, it must be easy, right? Not exactly. It’s hard work. Last night I did a three hour game, and I was exhausted after it was over. It’s a tiring job.

Rick: What do you do during your inning off?

Pat: Nothing set every time. I usually walk around a little bit, have a little water, turn my mind off, talk to some people. I’m still paying attention to the game, but it’s a mental break more than anything.

Rick: I know you’re incredibly busy—so thanks for taking time to do this. I only have one more question. How long do you see yourself working as the play by play man for the Cubs?

Pat: I’m not sure. It’s a good way to make a living, but I just don’t know. I’ve done five years in the minors, and 28 in the big leagues, and I’d like to do it as long as I’m healthy enough. I’m 54 years old. This isn’t a cop out, but I can’t really put a number on it. You never know what will happen. Sometimes your life situation dictates something you hadn’t anticipated. I’m in the last year of my contract, and while I’d love to stay –I take nothing for granted. I’ll put it this way—I hope it doesn’t end anytime soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

23-22

On this day in 1979, the Cubs played the Phillies in the ultimate slugfest. The final score was 23-22. Fox 32's Dane Placko was there...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Now this is a Cubs fan...

Remember Derick Lehman? We featured him as our JOBC fan of the week back in 2008, when he gave us a tour of his Cubstiva...



Well today he sent me a video of his basement, and let me just say that I'm extremely jealous, even though I know my wife would never consent to letting me do this...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Castro homers in debut

Nice work here by Edwardo and Squirehogg...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo


I wanted to pay tribute to all of the Mexican born players in Cubs history for Cinco De Mayo. I could only find four. Am I missing anyone? Let me know if I am.


Here's what I found:

Jesse Flores

Jesse was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 1938, and pitched for them in 1942. He appeared in 4 games, pitched 5 innings, struck out six, and gave up one home run before being sold to the Athletics. The A's converted him into a starter and he won 12 games for them the following year. He played in the majors for seven seasons.

Jesse passed away in 1991 at the age of 77.



Hector Torres

The Cubs acquired Hector in a trade with the Houston Astros in 1971. The Cubs gave up their former first round draft pick, Roger Metzger. Metzger started at shortstop for the Astros until 1979.

Torres, on the other hand, had 58 at bats for the Cubs in 1971, hitting .224 and making several errors in the field during his limited opportunities. The following April they traded him along with Hal Breeden to the Expos for the immortal Dan McGinn.

Torres played nine seasons in the major leagues.




Horacio Pina

He was an important part of the 1973 World Champion Oakland A's bullpen when the Cubs acquired him for the 1974 season (for Bob Locker). He seemed to lose his grip of the strike zone when he got to Chicago and walked 28 men in 47 innings. The Cubs traded him to the Angels in July.

Horacio pitched in the big leagues for eight seasons.



Ismael Valdez

He seemed like a steal when the Cubs got Valdez along with Eric Young for Terry Adams in 2000. Valdez had won ten or more games four of the previous five seasons with the Dodgers. Unfortunately, Ismael was bothered with bad blister problems during his short stay in Chicago. After giving up 17 home runs in 67 innings, with a 5.37 ERA, the Cubs had seen enough.

They sent him back to the Dodgers for a minor league prospect, Jamie Arnold.

Valdez later rediscovered his touch a few seasons later and won 14 games for the Padres and Marlins.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bud Abbott

He and Lou Costello formed the famous comedy team of Abbott and Costello. Abbott outlived Costello by 17 years, but the world's greatest straight man passed away this week in 1974.

I have watched this routine, or listened to it, at least fifty times. I still think it's brilliant...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wrigley Organ

On this day in 1941, the Cubs became the first team to install an organ at a Major League ballpark. The first organist was a man named Roy Nelson.

The first team the Cubs played, organ in hand (so to speak), was the Cardinals.

The Cardinals won 4-2.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hal Totten

On this day in 1924 the Cubs were broadcast on the radio for the very first time. The man behind the microphone was sportscaster Hal Totten (photo). The radio station was WMAQ.

What did he sound like?

You can hear his voice in this montage of early Cubs announcers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Salon does baseball

This is a lovely piece about Ron Santo in Salon.com.

And this is another great piece in Salon.com about the joy of playing catch with your son. I've been doing a lot of this lately with my seven year old son Sean, and I'm loving every minute of it.

Thanks to "DE" for pointing these out to me.

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) died exactly 100 years ago today. I always heard he was a baseball fan, but now I know for certain. I found a website that chronicles all things Twain, and here's a pretty comprehensive account of Twain's love of baseball.

He went to his grave thinking the Chicago Cubs were the ultimate baseball dynasty. They had been to the World Series four times in the last five years of his life.