WBEZ | sports http://www.wbez.org/tags/sports Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Open tryouts and 'indie ball blues' in Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/open-tryouts-and-indie-ball-blues-indiana-110216 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bball.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>On a cold, gray morning in Gary, Ind., about 40 baseball hopefuls sat in the Gary Railcats&rsquo; home dugout, looking up at Manager Greg Tagert.</p><p>It was a bleak day, and Tagert&rsquo;s speech to them was equally bleak.</p><p>The men in the dugout had plunked down $40 for a chance to try out for the &lsquo;Cats - an independent-league team that is about as low on the hierarchy as you can get and still be considered pro ball.</p><p>The players trying out were minor-league washouts trying to hold on, or college stars looking for their big break.</p><p>Tagert told them that only a handful of them would make the cut today - five or less. And even those lucky few couldn&rsquo;t count on making the roster.</p><p>Whether or not you&rsquo;re a fan - baseball means American summer as much as barbecues, fireworks and the beach.</p><p>But for the men in that dugout it means something more -- it&rsquo;s an obsession, a dream job.</p><p>WBEZ spent the day at the open tryouts for the Gary Railcats.</p><p>The Railcats were last season&rsquo;s American Association champions - but the team&rsquo;s players are still looking for a way to move up.</p><p>Even though the small-time, Single A Durham Bulls--remember the movie Bull Durham?-- would be a dream come true for many of them, they are all really good at baseball.</p><p>Just about all the guys who tried out starred on their high school baseball teams. They&rsquo;re not good enough for the big leagues, but they are still way better than you.</p><p>The team&rsquo;s home opener is at 7 Thursday evening against the Wichita Wingnuts.&nbsp; They&rsquo;ll be playing at the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Video producer<a href="https://vimeo.com/jscott1908"> John Scott</a> is a filmmaker who lives and works in Chicago.</em></p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ Producer and Reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150617705&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 14:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/open-tryouts-and-indie-ball-blues-indiana-110216 13 Chicago inventions and firsts http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/13-chicago-inventions-and-firsts-109024 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Original%20Brownie%20Recipe%20at%20the%20Palmer%20House.%20Flickr%3AOkun.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px; " title="The original brownie recipe at the Palmer House. (Flickr/Okun)" /></p><p>On March 1, 1893, the gates opened at the Chicago World&#39;s Fair: an entertainment wonderland attracting 26 million visitors over the course of six months with never before seen art, food, alcoholic beverages, and a newfangled bevy of technological gadgets.&nbsp;</p><p>120 years later, the Field Museum has unveiled&nbsp;<a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/happening/exhibits/opening-vaults-wonders-1893-worlds-fair" target="_blank">Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World&#39;s Fair</a>, a 10-month long exhibit of incredible artifacts and specimens from the fairgrounds to commemorate the occasion.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>A recent post by WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">Curious City</a> also paid homage to the incomparable splendor of the World&#39;s Fair, and it got me thinking about the many Chicago &quot;firsts&quot; that the fair produced.</p><p>Which Chicago inventions debuted at the 1893&nbsp;fair, and which came after? And which of these can our city really claim?</p><p><strong>1. Brownies. </strong></p><p>The beloved chocolate treat was created in Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_brownie" target="_blank">Palmer House</a>&nbsp;kitchen in 1893. Bertha Palmer, wife of millionaire hotelier Potter Palmer, wanted a new dessert to serve at the World&#39;s Fair that was smaller than a cake, but still had cake-like qualities. These first brownies were baked with semi-sweet chocolate, an apricot glaze, and crushed walnuts, and they are still beng made at the hotel according to the <a href="http://www.hiltontopchef.com/recipe/the-chocolate-fudge-brownie/" target="_blank">original recipe</a>.</p><p><strong>2. Yellow pencils.</strong></p><p>In 1889, the Hardtmuth Company of Austria introduced a <a href="http://www.pencils.com/blog/why-are-pencils-yellow/" target="_blank">fancy new line of pencils</a> into the World&#39;s Fair of Paris. The pencils were made from the finest graphite in the Far East and painted with 14 coats of golden-yellow lacquer. In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty. Four years later, European producer Koh-I-Nor brought the yellow pencils to Chicago&#39;s World&#39;s Fair, where they made <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/steinberg/11008357-452/happy-175th-birthday-chicago-city-of-firsts.html" target="_blank">quite a splash</a>&nbsp;and officially became an American staple.</p><p><strong>3. The Ferris Wheel.</strong></p><p><a href="http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/ferris.html" target="_blank">George Ferris</a> invented this engineering marvel to outdo the Eiffel Tower, which was the centerpiece of the 1889 World&#39;s Fair in Paris. Making its debut at the 1893 Chicago World&#39;s Fair, the first Ferris Wheel carried 36 elegantly outfitted passenger cars, each of which could fit 40 people sitting or 60 peiple standing. The wheel was dismantled in 1894, rebuilt in Lincoln Park the following year, and then sold in parts to St. Louis, where it was eventually&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hydeparkhistory.org/newsletter.html" target="_blank">destroyed</a>&nbsp;by dynamite.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. The zipper.</strong></p><p>First introduced as a &quot;clasp locker&quot; at the 1893 World&#39;s Fair by Chicagoan <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitcomb_Judson" target="_blank">Whitcomb L. Judson</a>, the original zipper was a complicated hook-and-eye shoe fastener that still wowed fairgoers as a technological marvel at the time. The zipper as we use it today &mdash; based on a system of interlocking teeth &mdash; was invented by <a href="http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/zipper.htm" target="_blank">a Swedish employee</a> of Judson in 1913.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The vacuum cleaner.</strong></p><p>The first manually powered vacuum cleaner was born in the basement of Chicago inventor&nbsp;<a href="http://vacuumcleanersensei.blogspot.com/2007/10/history-of-vacuum-cleaners-ives-w.html" target="_blank">Ives. W. McGaffey</a>&nbsp;in 1869. Made from wood and canvas, the &quot;Whirlwind&quot; was lightweight but difficult to maneuver, as it required the user to turn a hand crank while pushing it across the floor. The machines were sold for $25 in Chicago and Boston, until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 incinerated all but two of them. One of these original models <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_cleaner" target="_blank">currently resides</a>&nbsp;at the Hoover Historical Center in North Canton, Ohio.</p><p><strong>6. Softball.</strong></p><p>Some sources say the sport originated<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball" target="_blank">&nbsp;in France</a> as early as 1334, while others point to the British game <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball" target="_blank">rounders</a> as inspiration for what softball and baseball would later become. However, it is also widely believed that softball &mdash; a variant of baseball played with a larger ball and on a smaller field &mdash; was invented in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day 1887, when members of the Farragut Boat Club began playing <a href="http://www.asasoftball.com/about/asa_history.asp" target="_blank">indoor ball</a> with an old boxing glove and a broomstick.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. The electric dishwasher.</strong></p><p>After <a href="http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldishwasher.htm" target="_blank">Josephine Garis Cochran</a> of Shelbyville, Ill. showed off her novel yet highly practical contraption at the 1893 World&#39;s Fair, the habitual chore of washing dishes would never be the same. The first electric dishwashers were primarily used in hotels and large restaurants until the early 1950s, when the everyday feasability of these machines began to catch on with the general public. Cochran also founded a company to manufacture her dishwashers, which eventually became <a href="http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/256.html" target="_blank">KitchenAid</a>.</p><p><strong>8. The film critic.</strong></p><p>Being a film critic was not considered to be a &quot;real job&quot; until 1914, when the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Tribune hired Jack Lawson as the first paid&nbsp;<a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=2TEEaCrPiWsC&amp;pg=PT340&amp;lpg=PT340&amp;dq=jack+lawson+film+critic+chicago&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=ba_1VR2QcY&amp;sig=_Zb2_szoWk-x61z16IBdlO_kyj4&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=ZnxwUsDiGMThyQHP8YGAAw&amp;ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=jack%20lawson%20film%20critic%20chicago&amp;f=false" target="_blank">full-time film critic</a>. Lawson&#39;s hiring paved the way for many more famous names to follow, including Gene Siskel at the Tribune&nbsp;and Roger Ebert at the Chicago&nbsp;Sun-Times<em>.</em>&nbsp;Ebert also became the first person to win a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Pulitzer_Prize" target="_blank">Pulitzer Prize</a> for film critcism in 1975.</p><p><strong>9. The telephone.</strong></p><p>Scottish engineer <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell" target="_blank">Alexander Graham Bell </a>is widely credited with inventing the first practical telephone in Boston circa 1876. However, Elisha Gray of Highland Park, Ill. was also experimenting with acoustic telepathy during this time, and filed a caveat with the U.S. Patent Office on the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Gray_and_Alexander_Bell_telephone_controversy" target="_blank">same day</a>&nbsp;as Bell. Three days later, Bell succeeded in getting his telephone to work, &nbsp;but only after using a transmitter that matched Gray&#39;s design. Bell also drew a diagram in his notebook similar to that in Gray&#39;s patent caveat, leading many skeptics to theorize that Bell stole the invention.</p><p><strong>10. The frozen pastry industry.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>The famous&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Lee_Corporation" target="_blank">Sara Lee Corporation</a> of Downers Grove, Ill. began as a popular Chicago bakery chain in the 1950s, founded by Charles Lubin and named after Lubin&#39;s daughter, Sara Lee. Today, the corporation is divided into two companies: one for North American operations renamed Hillshire Brands (though the Sara Lee name remains on many of the desserts and deli products) and the other for international beverage and bakery businesses named D.E. Master Blenders 1753. Some of the most <a href="http://saraleedesserts.com">well-known brands</a> under this umbrella include Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean, Pickwick Tea, and Sara Lee frozen desserts.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. The first cartoon character.</strong></p><p>Walt Disney may have been born in Chicago, but contrary to popular belief, he did not invent the first animated cartoon character with the introduction of &quot;Steamboat Willie&quot; Mickey Mouse in 1928. In fact, that honor belongs to lesser-known cartoonists Wallace Carlson&nbsp;and Winsor McCay, who created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertie_the_Dinosaur" target="_blank">&quot;Gertie the Dinosaur&quot;</a> in 1914. The following year, Carlson debuted a new character called &quot;Dreamy Dud,&quot; who appeared in perhaps the country&#39;s first <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oup5EnKMGxM" target="_blank">afterschool special</a>&nbsp;for Chicago&#39;s Essanay Studios.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>12. Skyscrapers.</strong></p><p>Chicago&#39;s Home Insurance Building, built in 1884, is widely considered the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-01/worlds-first-skyscraper-96741" target="_blank">world&#39;s first skyscraper</a>.&nbsp;At 10 stories high and 138 feet tall, it was also the first building to use structural steel in its frame. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for the Field Building (now the LaSalle National Bank Building). Chicago is also home to the tallest skyscraper built by a female architect, Jeanne Gang. She and her team at Studio Gang Architects constructed residential skyscraper&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_(skyscraper)" target="_blank">Aqua</a>&nbsp;in 2009.</p><p><strong>13. Deep dish pizza.</strong></p><p>In 1943, Ike Sewell invented deep dish pizza at his restaurant&nbsp;<a href="http://unos.com/about.php" target="_blank">Pizzeria Uno</a>, where delicious Chicago-style pies are still served today.&nbsp;Other Chicago food inventions include Twinkies, Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit gum, Oscar Mayer weiners, Jays potato chips, Italian Beef, and, of course, the Chicago-style hot dog.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/13-chicago-inventions-and-firsts-109024 Global Activism: Elizabeth Stanton on the Global Sports Mentoring Program http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-elizabeth-stanton-global-sports-mentoring-program-109250 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ga sports.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-67b161f5-9160-c70a-74f7-11cf653e498c">Journalist and Global Activist, Liz Stanton, founder of the <a href="http://throughhereyesproject.tumblr.com/">Through Her Eyes Project</a> is back on <em>Worldview</em> to talk about what she&#39;s doing lately:</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m taking time off right at the moment from the Through Her Eyes project this month to document the stories of 17 women from around the world who have come to the U.S. for a mentorship program run with the University of Tennessee, State Department, and espnW. It is called the <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/espnw/category/_/name/global-sports-mentoring-program">Global Sports Mentoring [Program]</a>. This is the second year of the program and there are participants from countries as far afield and different as Papa New Guinea and Poland.The stories of these women are compelling and amazing, from one of the few Pakistani women working to cover sports as a journalist in her country, to one of Nigeria&#39;s youngest elected officials, to one of Egypt&#39;s only female basketball leaders, and the challenges they face and the real dreams they have for their countries.&quot;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115831849" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 09:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-elizabeth-stanton-global-sports-mentoring-program-109250 Morning Shift: Coping with life after prison http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-16/morning-shift-coping-life-after-prison-108682 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prison - Flickr - decade_null.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We check in with Gabe Klein to assess the Divvy bike share program. What are the hits and misses? Also, journalist Alison Flowers discusses her new WBEZ series &quot;The Exoneree Diaries&quot;, and one of the exonerees she profile shares his story.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-65/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-65.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-65" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Coping with life after prison" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 16 Sep 2013 08:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-16/morning-shift-coping-life-after-prison-108682 Morning Shift: Diet trends, bikes and music http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-28/morning-shift-diet-trends-bikes-and-music-107894 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chicago Bike Sharing_courtesy of Associated Press.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As Chicago launches its bike-share program, we hear from you about if this new service will be utilized or largely ignored. Also, Monica Eng gives us the facts and fallacies about diet trends. And Chicago&#39;s Black Ensemble Theater pays tribute to Howlin&#39; Wolf.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-diet-trends-bikes-and-music.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-diet-trends-bikes-and-music" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Diet trends, bikes and music " on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 08:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-28/morning-shift-diet-trends-bikes-and-music-107894 Chicago bowler of the half-century http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/chicago-bowler-half-century-107517 <p><p>When bowling was big and Chicago was the bowling capital of the world, the greatest bowler in Chicago was Paul Krumske.&nbsp;And there&rsquo;s one story about Paul Krumske they always tell.</p><p>During one close match, Krumske suddenly keels over on the lane, grabbing his chest and gasping for breath.&nbsp;The match stops.&nbsp;Medical help is summoned, and Krumske is revived.&nbsp;He gamely declares that he will go on.</p><p>By now the opposition is totally unnerved&ndash;especially when Krumske rolls the next half-dozen strikes.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-07--Krumske.jpg" style="float: right; height: 281px; width: 260px;" title="Paul Krumske (author's collection)" /></div><p>This incident happened during the&nbsp;famous match Krumske bowled against Ned Day . . . or in a team match in the Chicago Classic League . . . or in a tournament in Detroit . . . or was it in a late-night pot game at Marigold?&nbsp;Maybe he faked heart attacks on all those occasions.</p><p>After the first few times, though, you&rsquo;d think the other bowlers would get wise, and just step over Paul as they bowled.</p><p>Born on the South Side in 1912, Krumske dropped out of high school to go to work as a clerk at a meat-packing plant.&nbsp;One evening, when he was 17, the boss needed a sub on his bowling team.&nbsp;Krumske volunteered.</p><p>He learned fast.&nbsp;Within five years Krumske had rolled his first 300 game and was carrying one of the highest averages in the city.&nbsp;The papers started running stories about the new boy wonder of bowling.</p><p>There wasn&rsquo;t any pro bowling then.&nbsp;The better bowlers all had day jobs.&nbsp;They made money by getting on a top-flight team, then competing in leagues and tournaments&ndash;or by rolling matches&nbsp;against other hotshots.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-07--Krumske%20Ball%20Cleaner%20%281946%29.jpg" style="height: 336px; width: 240px; float: left;" title="Krumske endorsement, 1946 (author's collection)" /></div><p>Krumske followed this route.&nbsp;He bowled in the city&rsquo;s best league, the Chicago Classic, for nearly forty years.&nbsp;For twenty years he was league secretary.&nbsp;Recognized as one of the country&rsquo;s top players, he was named to the annual All-American team seven times.</p><p>His finest moment came in 1944.&nbsp;Ned Day was bowling&rsquo;s match-game champion&ndash;the equivalent&nbsp;of boxing&rsquo;s heavyweight champ.&nbsp;He&rsquo;d never been beaten in a head-to-head match.&nbsp;But Krumske challenged&nbsp;him, and won the title in an 80-game showdown.</p><p>In 1951 a newspaper poll named Krumske Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;Bowler of the Half-Century.&rdquo;&nbsp;Bowling was starting to enjoy&nbsp;boom times.&nbsp;By now Krumske was endorsing bowling products and giving&nbsp;exhibitions for an equipment manufacturer.&nbsp;He also had a full-time job at the Peter Hand Brewery.</p><p>His title was Sports Director.&nbsp;That meant Krumske was captain of the brewery&rsquo;s famed Meister Brau Beer bowling team.&nbsp;By staying in the news, the team helped sell beer. Also, as secretary of the Chicago Classic, Krumske could convince bowling proprietors to stock Meister Brau in their bars.</p><p>Krumske appeared on the many bowling shows that were popular in the early days of TV.&nbsp;For a while he had his own local program called &ldquo;Bowl the Professor.&rdquo;&nbsp;In 1957 comedian Jerry Lewis made a surprise visit, bowling a hilarious one-game match against Krumske.&nbsp;The tape of that&nbsp;show was later used for charity fund-raising.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-07--Krumske%20vs.%20Lewis%20%281957%29.jpg" title="Paul Krumske vs. Jerry Lewis, 1957 (Bowlers Journal photo)" /></div><p>Like most athletes, Krumske&rsquo;s skills declined as he grew older.&nbsp;His bowling winnings shrank.&nbsp;His exhibition contract was not renewed.&nbsp;Then, in 1972, the brewery closed.</p><p>Krumske did some instructing and ran a few tournaments.&nbsp;Early in 1979 he decided to make a fresh start and moved to Florida.&nbsp;That same summer, Paul Krumske died in his new Boca Raton home.</p><p>The cause of death was a heart attack.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/chicago-bowler-half-century-107517 The Stephen Rodrick interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/stephen-rodrick-interview-107320 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sr.authorpic%20final2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 428px; width: 300px;" title="Author Stephen Rodrick (Jeff Minton)" />Stephen Rodrick&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.themagicalstranger.com/#!the-book/cdjd" target="_blank">The Magical Stranger: A Son&#39;s Journey Into His Magical Life</a>,&quot; explores the life of his father, a Navy pilot who died when his plane crashed into the ocean, through the lens of current members of his dad&#39;s former squadron as he traveled with them on their aircraft carrier. You may also know him as the <em>New York Times</em> author of &quot;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/magazine/here-is-what-happens-when-you-cast-lindsay-lohan-in-your-movie.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie</a>,&quot; the fascinating look at...well, you can figure it out. <span class="font_8">He is a contributing writer for <em><span class="italic">The New York Times Magazine</span></em> and a contributing editor for <span class="italic"><em>Men&#39;s Journal</em> and </span></span><span class="font_8">his work has been anthologized&nbsp; in <span class="italic">The Best American Sports Writing</span>, <span class="italic">The Best American Crime Writing</span> and <span class="italic">The Best American Political Writing</span></span><span class="font_8">. He has also written for <em><span class="italic">New York</span>, <span class="italic">Rolling Stone</span>, <span class="italic">GQ</span>,</em> and <em><span class="italic">The New Republic</span></em>. </span>Chicagoans, you can watch him speak Thursday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/newsreleases/archives.aspx?id=221657" target="_blank">at Northwestern</a> and later&nbsp;<a href="http://newcityrodrick.eventbrite.com/#" target="_blank">at the Boarding House</a>, so check him out.</p><div><div><div><div><p><strong>I know a lot of people in the book opted not to read it until it came out, but how much did you feel compelled to alert about what you would publishing about them?</strong><br />Not as many as you&#39;d think. Most of my family members and the guys in the Navy said &quot;Write what you see.&quot; That was incredibly freeing. The only person who got a pre-read was my Mom and we worked out her problems with it, that wasn&#39;t easy, but we got through it.</p><p><strong>Why now?</strong><br />My dad&#39;s plane, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_Grumman_EA-6B_Prowler" target="_blank">EA-6B Prowler</a> was finally being retired. It was my Dad&#39;s plane. If I was going to follow his old plane with his final squadron it had to be now. So that was a great motivator.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>In <a href="http://www.theawl.com/2013/05/how-to-write-about-tragedy-andor-lindsay-lohan-advice-from-stephen-rodrick" target="_blank">an interview with the Awl</a> you discuss your initial efforts to sell the story, which were unsuccessful. As a magazine writer I imagine you have a lot of experience pitching stories: what&rsquo;s the difference when it&rsquo;s your own life, both in terms of the pitch and how you feel if it gets passed on?</strong><br />Actually, I wasn&#39;t unsuccessful. I sent in my proposal, my agent slapped a cover page on it and we had an auction a few days later. The editor I mentioned passed on it, but there were other offers on the table thank goodness. We sent it out to probably seven or eight places, some passed, some didn&#39;t. The different in pitching this versus a magazine piece is I knew what I wanted to do and was prepared to take less money from a place that would let me tell the story as I wanted it to be written. That isn&#39;t always possible in magazines.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What are some of the biggest real-life cliches about living on an aircraft carrier?</strong><br />The noise. You can not imagine how loud the flight deck is. You can not imagine how a catapult launch will nearly shake you out of your bunk. There is noise everywhere and all the time.</p></div><strong>What&rsquo;s one (or two or three) things you wished you had packed for carrier life that you hadn&rsquo;t?</strong><br />I wished I&#39;d packed ear plugs and more clothes. Trying to do laundry on a boat with 5,000 men and women was a real &quot;Lord of the Flies&quot; experience.</div><br /><strong>In that Awl interview you talk about the parallels between being a military kid and the transience of a magazine writer&rsquo;s life. For someone considering doing what you do, what tips do you have for making it easier to pick up and move quickly to a new story and location?</strong><br />An understanding spouse. If you don&#39;t have a partner who is independent enough to survive when you&#39;re gone 10 weeks of the year, it&#39;s going to be tough. And try to park yourself in a place where stories are happening all around. If you&#39;re in Chicago, stay in Chicago. Plenty of great stories here.</div><br /><strong>I&rsquo;m curious how you pitched the Lindsay Lohan story to your editor at the <em>Times</em>, because while it was a story about Lindsay Lohan and what a mess she is, obviously it was much more than that.&nbsp;</strong></div><p>It was really simple: Lindsay Lohan. Bret Easton Ellis. Paul Schrader. The porn star next door. Complete access. That story was green-lighted in about ten minutes. That is the exact opposite of most pitches and it was because I knew Schrader a little and I emailed him directly and didn&#39;t have to go through a squadron of publicists. Lohan&#39;s people balked, but Schrader insisted to his everlasting credit.<br /><br /><strong>How much do you hold on to grudges when it comes to stories you&rsquo;ve pitched and believed in, that got killed? Are there any that you still lament didn&rsquo;t see the light of day?</strong><br />I try not to bear grudges, but there is a certain pain when you see your idea at another magazine simply because you couldn&#39;t convince your editor of the idea. It doesn&#39;t get easier as you get old. <a href="http://gawker.com/376100/i-love-being-a-caricature-julia-allison-profiled-as-car+stealing-blithe-spirit" target="_blank">I did a story on Wilmette native Julia Allison</a> who was basically internet famous for no real reason. It got killed by <em>New York</em> and I place it elsewhere. I think it&#39;s one of my best profiles and it&#39;s a bummer it didn&#39;t reach a larger audience</p><div><div><div><strong>Which athletes, either who you&rsquo;ve profiled or you&rsquo;ve just followed as a fan, do you think have established some of the best post-athletic-career lives and careers?</strong></div><div>That&#39;s a good question. Many of the players I written about&mdash;Brett Favre, Riddick Bowe, Dennis Rodman&mdash;has struggled mightily in retirement. Grant Hill is retiring this year. I suspect he will do great things<br /><br /><strong>What are some of your favorite pieces of creative nonfiction?</strong></div><div>Updike&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/hub_fans_bid_kid_adieu_article.shtml" target="_blank">Hub Fans Bid The Kid Adieu.</a>&quot; Anything by Julian Barnes. The flying stuff by James Salter is the best.<br />&nbsp;</div><div><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 350th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Grateful and unworthy.</p></div></div></div><p><em>Follow Claire Zulkey&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a> You can find previous Zulkey.com interviews <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 07:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/stephen-rodrick-interview-107320 The Fairway Flapper http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/fairway-flapper-107139 <p><p>The latest screen version of <em>The Great Gatsby</em> opened this week. That calls to mind the story of Chicago&rsquo;s own Edith Cummings.</p><p>Born in 1899, Cummings grew up in Lake Forest among the social elite. She attended an exclusive boarding school and made her formal debut. Her father and brother were golfers. It seemed natural for Edith to take up the game.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-15--Edith%20Cummings%20%288-25-1924%29.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 396px; float: right;" title="Chicago's own Edith Cummings ('Time'--August 25, 1924)" />She became very good very fast. There were no female golf pros yet, so Cummings played in the few amateur tournaments open to women. In 1919 she qualified to compete in the U.S. Women&rsquo;s Amateur for the first time.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cummings became a favorite of the galleries. She was young, beautiful, and bursting with energy.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;She swaggered like a bullfighter, ready to pounce on any mistake her opponent made,&rdquo; one reporter wrote.&nbsp; A magazine called her the Fairway Flapper, and the name stuck.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cummings built up an impressive file of press clippings. Yet she couldn&rsquo;t seem to win a championship. After another near miss, one of her fans said &ldquo;Too much dancing, too much bootleg liquor.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1923 she finally broke through. The Women&rsquo;s Amateur was being played at the Westchester Country Club outside New York City, and Cummings advanced to the 36-hole final match against the country&rsquo;s top female golfer, Alexa Stirling. This time the Fairway Flapper was ready. Cummings closed out the three-time champion on the 34th green, 3 &amp; 2.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Her victory made Cummings a national celebrity. She was featured in newspapers and all the &ldquo;ladies&rsquo; magazines.&rdquo; The climax was a cover story in <em>Time</em> magazine on August 25, 1924. Cummings was the first female athlete&mdash;indeed, the first golfer&mdash;featured on the magazine&rsquo;s cover.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The<em> Time </em>story came as Cummings was about to defend her Amateur title. But the magic was gone. Cummings was eliminated in an early round of match play. After 1924 she seemed to lose interest in competitive golf.&nbsp;She never won another tournament.<em> </em></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-15--Stirling%20in%201915.jpg" title="1915--Alexa Stirling [left] with Edith Cummings, and Edith's father and brother (Library of Congress)" /></div></div><p>In 1934 Cummings married businessman Curtis Munson.&nbsp;When she died in 1984, most of the sporting world had forgotten her.&nbsp;And yet, Edith Cummings did attain her own bit of indirect immortality.</p><p>While in boarding school she&rsquo;d met a young Princeton student named F. Scott Fitzgerald.&nbsp;Years later, in <em>The Great Gatsby</em>, Fitzgerald created the character &ldquo;Jordan Baker&rdquo;&ndash;a champion golfer&ndash;based on Cummings.&nbsp;Trouble was, in <em>Gatsby</em>, the lady golfer is&nbsp;a cheater.&nbsp;</p><p>Why would Fitzgerald portray his old friend that way? There are probably a dozen scholarly journal articles offering an explanation. In any case, nobody ever accused the real Edith Cummings of any rules-bending or underhanded play.&nbsp;Win or lose, the Fairway Flapper from Chicago was always a credit to the game.</p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/fairway-flapper-107139 City, Cubs push $500 million Wrigley renovation http://www.wbez.org/news/city-cubs-push-500-million-wrigley-renovation-106643 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr_DaveNewman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Cubs and the city have agreed on details of a $500 million facelift for Wrigley Field, including an electronic video screen that is nearly three times as large as the one currently atop the centerfield bleachers of the 99-year-old ballpark.</p><p>Under terms of the agreement, the Cubs would also be able to increase the number of night games at Wrigley Field from 30 to 40 &mdash; or nearly half the games played there each season. They would give Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts the ability to renovate the second-oldest park in the major leagues, boost business and perhaps make baseball&#39;s most infamous losers competitive again.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed what the two sides called a &quot;framework&quot; agreement in a joint statement issued Sunday night, noting that it includes no taxpayer funding. That had been one of the original requests of the Ricketts family in a long-running renovation dispute that at times involved everything from cranky ballpark neighbors to ward politics and even the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.</p><p>&quot;This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley) and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors,&quot; Emanuel said.</p><p>Still uncertain was how the agreement will sit with owners of nearby buildings who provide rooftop views of the ball games under an agreement with the Cubs that goes back years. They have threatened to sue if the renovations obstruct their view, which they claim would drive them out of business.</p><p>On Monday, a spokesman for the rooftop owners said the group would have a statement later, but in the meantime referred the AP to the group&#39;s statement released earlier this month that says: &quot;Any construction that interrupts the rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.&quot;</p><p>The Cubs said the video screen they are proposing to build is 6,000 square feet, and would be built with &quot;minimal impact on rooftops with whom (the) Cubs have an agreement.&quot; The current centerfield scoreboard is slightly more than 2,000 square feet; the Cubs also have plans to add a left-field sign of 1,000 square feet.</p><p>&quot;Rooftop views are largely preserved,&quot; the team said in its announcement. &quot;The Cubs have agreed to install only two signs in the outfield &mdash; a videoboard in left field and a sign in right field. This is far less than our original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration.&quot;</p><p>The signs offer the team a chance to reach new advertising deals and pay for the overhaul, even if it might change the character of the historic park. The city and club said they hope the agreement would allow the Cubs to obtain necessary city approvals for the work by the end of the current season.</p><p>The Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, initially sought tax funding for renovation plans. With that out in the new agreement, the owners will seek to open new revenue streams outside the stadium. Under the agreement, the Ricketts family would be allowed to build a 175-room hotel, a plaza, and an office building with retail space and a health club, and provide 1,000 &quot;remote&quot; parking spots that will be free and come with shuttle service.</p><p>&quot;We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward,&quot; Ricketts said in the statement.</p><p>The site of Babe Ruth&#39;s &quot;called shot&quot; home run in the 1932 World Series and more heartbreak than Cubs fans would like to remember, Wrigley Field is younger only than Boston&#39;s Fenway Park in the majors. It has long been a treasured showplace for baseball purists &mdash; night games were only added in 1988 &mdash; but team officials for years have desperately wanted a true upgrade, saying it costs as much as $15 million a year just to keep up with basic repairs.</p><p>The ballpark has also played no small part in the lore of the team, as fans were reminded April 10 when someone delivered a goat&#39;s head in a box addressed to Ricketts. Neither the team nor the Chicago Police Department have talked about a possible motive for the strange delivery, but as every fan knows it was in the 1945 World Series when a tavern owner arrived at the park with his pet goat &mdash; which had a ticket.</p><p>According to legend, the owner was told the goat smelled and was denied entry. The angry tavern owner then put the &quot;Curse of the Billy Goat&quot; on the Cubs &mdash; and the team has not been back to the World Series since. The last World Series championship for the Cubs came in 1908 &mdash; six years before Wrigley was built.</p><p>After failing to reach an agreement when Mayor Richard Daley was in office, the Ricketts family kept talking after Emanuel took office in 2011. But even presidential politics presented an obstacle for the plans at one point.</p><p>During the 2012 election, the patriarch of the Ricketts family, which created the TD Ameritrade brokerage firm, was considering a $10 million campaign against Obama that would refer to the racially incendiary sermons delivered by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a Chicago church the president once attended. J. Joseph Ricketts dropped the proposal, but the episode brought a huge dose of unwanted bad press and angered Emanuel, Obama&#39;s former White House chief of staff.</p><p>In recent weeks, fans also had to deal with the unlikely specter of the Cubs leaving Chicago. With the talks bogged down, the mayor of nearby Rosemont piped up, saying the village located near O&#39;Hare International Airport would be willing to let the Cubs have 25 acres free of charge to build a replica of Wrigley Field.</p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 06:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-cubs-push-500-million-wrigley-renovation-106643 Phil Cavarretta, hometown Cubs hero http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/phil-cavaretta-hometown-cubs-hero-106305 <p><p>Last week, for the White Sox opener, we talked about Johnny Mostil, a native Chicagoan who played his entire major league career in a Chicago uniform, and was also a Sox star. Today is the Cubs home opener. Today the subject is a Cubs star.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cavaretta%2C%20Phil_0.jpg" style="width: 240px; height: 397px; float: right;" title="Cavarretta the rookie (author's collection)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Phil Cavarretta was born twenty years after Mostil, in 1916.&nbsp;Unlike Mostil, he made it to the major leagues quickly. Phil was only 18, and a few months&nbsp;out of Lane Tech, when the Cubs signed him in 1934.&nbsp;In his first appearance at Wrigley Field, he hit a home run.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The next season Cavarretta became the Cubs&rsquo; regular first baseman.&nbsp;He developed into a solid left-handed hitter&nbsp;known for his&nbsp;hustling style of play.&nbsp;Injuries plagued him.&nbsp;Separate broken ankles kept him out of action for much of two seasons.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cavarretta was rejected for World War II service because of a hearing problem.&nbsp;Now in his late 20s, he hit his playing peak.&nbsp;In 1944 he made the All-Star team for the first time.&nbsp;The next year was Cavarretta&rsquo;s year.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1945 Cavarretta hit .355 to win the National League batting championship.&nbsp;He was named the league&rsquo;s Most Valuable Player, and led his team into the World Series&ndash;the last time the Cubs made it that far.&nbsp;Though the team lost, Phil batted .423 for the seven games.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cavaretta vet.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 376px; float: left;" title="Cavarretta the star (author's collection)" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">After the war ended, Cavarretta was named an All-Star twice more, showing he was more than a wartime flash.&nbsp;Meanwhile, the Cubs were going into a long decline.&nbsp;In 1951 team owner P.K. Wrigley made his most popular player the manager.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cavarretta continued to play part-time.&nbsp;His record as a manager was mixed.&nbsp;Just before the start of the 1954 season, Wrigley fired him.&nbsp;Always honest, Cavarretta had told his boss that the&nbsp;team had no hope of making the first division.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But Cavarretta wasn&#39;t through. After 20&nbsp;years with the Cubs, he now signed with the White Sox as a first baseman and pinch-hitter. He got into 71 games and hit .316. That proved to be his final spurt. Early in the 1955 season the Sox released him.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cavarretta stayed in baseball another two decades, managing in the minor leagues, working as a hitting coach, and doing some scouting. He died in 2010 at the age of 94. At the time of his death he was the last major leaguer to have played against Babe Ruth.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/phil-cavaretta-hometown-cubs-hero-106305