Chicago Baseball History


Pat Anderson dead at age 92

Patricia Scanlan Anderson, one of the last living direct links to the banned Buck Weaver of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, has died at age 92 in Kimberling, Mo.

Anderson died peacefully Sunday evening April 14th surrounded by her family members, who will continue the fight to clear the name of Weaver, her uncle. The third baseman was one of eight White Sox players banned from organized baseball in 1921 by then-Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for their alleged roles in the fixing of the 1919 World Series.

Born December 15, 1926 in Chicago, Anderson was an unlikely front person for a campaign to reinstate Weaver, whose career was destroyed for his connection to the Black Sox. Weaver had been accused of having knowledge of the pending fix, but not reporting the scandal to White Sox or American League officials.

At age 77, Anderson took up the fight to clear her Uncle Buck after the death of her sister Bette Scanlon, who had previously been the family’s spokesperson to promote Weaver’s cause. Anderson was joined by 89-year-old Marjorie Follett of Pontiac, Illinois in a “Clear Buck” protest at the 2003 All-Star Game at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field. The protest took place at 35th and Shields, only a few feet from the site of the original Comiskey Park, where Weaver played from 1912 to 1920 and as Chicago writer Nelson Algren wrote “guarded the spiked sand around third like his life…”

With the help of this author, Anderson and her cousin Marge launched at the same time of the All-Star Game protest. Demographically speaking, these two woman may have been America’s least likely firebrand Web protesters/proprietors. Former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig refused to meet the spirited duo, who sat with me just a few rows away from Selig.

Clear Buck Rally July 15, 2003, US Cellular Field, Chicago

After Marge died in October 2003, Anderson spent the rest of her life crusading for her uncle, who maintained his home in Chicago after his expulsion from baseball. Weaver raised Anderson as a surrogate daughter when her father William Scanlan died in 1931. After Weaver’s efforts to get back into baseball failed, he tried to make it in the drugstore business. With his pharmacist brother-in-law William Scanlan, they operated six drugstores on Chicago’s South Side. Noticing the ex-player’s business sense, Charles Walgreen, whose own drugstore empire was about to skyrocket, asked Weaver and Scanlan to join him as junior partners. But they declined the invitation.

After rejecting Walgreen’s offer, the Great Depression hit, and the six drug stores closed. Buck and Helen Weaver were childless, and they raised Anderson and her older sister Bette Scanlan, as their own, until they finished high school and started careers at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Anderson admired her uncle, who walked with him to school and work. She noticed the praise and adoration showered on Weaver by passers-by. But not until later in life did, she fully grasp what her uncle had done in his baseball career. Anderson said Weaver never talked about his playing days. Uncle Buck’s signature grin was one of her predominant memories. Weaver died in January 1956 on the streets of Chicago.

Undaunted by Selig’s refusal to meet with her, Anderson’s crusade to restore her Weaver’s reputation continued on. She appeared at Chicago White Sox Fest events, where fans got to meet her and hear about Weaver’s cause. Chicago-raised actor John Cusack played Weaver in the 1988 film “Eight Men Out.”

In October 2004, the Chicago History Museum hosted a Black Sox symposium titled, “The Black Sox: 85 Years Later.” Panelists included Anderson, this author, Charles Comiskey’s great-granddaughter Patti Bellock; Tom Cannon, grandson of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s 1921 trial attorney, and moderator Dan McGrath, then the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune.

“My Uncle Buck was heartbroken,” Anderson said at the 2004 symposium. “The people who knew him said he came alive when he took to the field, always with that big grin on his face. All he wanted to do was play ball. All he wanted to do was suit up for one more season, for one more game, for one more at-bat.”

Even former President Obama took up Buck’s cause after the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, urging former Commissioner Selig to reinstate Weaver.

At the request of the Clear Buck campaign, in a letter dated Nov. 23, 2005, then Illinois Senator Barack  Obama urged Selig “to conduct a posthumous investigation and hearing of the claims of Mr. Weaver’s family and those interested Chicagoans and others who believe fervently that this honorable man was treated unjustly. I appreciate your consideration of this request.”

On Dec. 6, 2005, Selig responded, “I certainly understand the great interest you have in the reinstatement of George Buck Weaver. As you know, none of my predecessors have seen fit to do so, but I have undertaken a very thorough investigation of this matter. These are very complex issues and very difficult to do proper research, although I am using our baseball historian, Jerome Holtzman of Evanston, Illinois, who is really the outstanding baseball historian of our generation.

“I can assure you that we will be very thorough in our review, and if there is anything you would like to discuss further about this matter, I would be delighted to do so. Although we have not met, I look forward to our paths crossing in the future.” wrote Selig to the future President.

In his role as the first Major League Baseball official historian, Holtzman was adamant that Weaver deserved to be exonerated in the matter. In 2004, Jerome Holtzman said of the more than the dozen players who have been banned from baseball over the years, that he considers Weaver the only one who, “has a chance to be reinstated, or at least should be considered for reinstatement.”

“If anybody should be absolved, then it should be Buck Weaver more so than Joe Jackson or any of the others,” said Holtzman in January, 2008, six months before he passed away. “Jackson was guilty as hell, but Weaver was an innocent bystander. He just got caught up in it, that’s all. Weaver should have spoken up. Of course, it would have been pretty difficult for him to speak up and betray his teammates.

In 2013, Anderson traveled along with her daughter Sandy Schley and granddaughter Kristi Berg to Philadelphia to appear at a Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) event marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Eliot Asinof’s book “Eight Men Out.”

In March 2015, Anderson and her family launched their latest attempt to clear the name of Weave and sent an official request to Commissioner Rob Manfred, Selig’s successor, urging him to consider Weaver’s reinstatement because the player had “been denied justice for far too long” and because “it’s the right thing to do.”

On July 5, 2015, John Owens of the Chicago Tribune did a major feature story on Pat’s “Late Swing to Reinstate Buck Weaver.” Owens traveled to Missouri and produced a short film on on Pat’s crusade for her Uncle Buck.

Soon after, the story appeared MLB Commissioner Manfred wrote a letter on July 20, 2015 declining “to give additional consideration” to this matter praising Judge Landis’ decision that saved baseball from further gambling scandals.

Though disappointed by this setback, Anderson kept pushing on and recently did some interviews with writers working on stories for the 100th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal to get her perspective on this seminal event in US culture.

We admired Anderson’s ageless spirit and enthusiasm and appreciated the stories she shared of life with her Uncle Buck. For more than 15 years Anderson took Weaver’s case to reporters, authors historians, a future President (Obama), and two MLB Commissioners, who refused to meet with her. Anderson vehemently argued that Weaver did not participate in the plot to throw the 1919 World Series.

Anderson was quick to point out Weaver’s .324 batting average and that as third baseman, he did not commit any fielding errors in the 1919 World Series. “He played eight games of flawless baseball,” Anderson said.

Pat Scanlan (center) and Gordon Anderson wedding June 1948 pictured with Uncle Buck (upper left)

On June 12, 1948, she married Gordon Anderson, who preceded her in death. They had four children: Sharon, 70; Debra, 65,  Sandy, 62, and Bruce, 58.

Anderson leaves behind an inspiring story about her efforts, but also the sad fact that restoring Weaver’s reputation did not happen in her lifetime. Her four children and her granddaughter Kristi will carry on the fight.

David Fletcher, Monticello, Illinois

Divergent personalities Smith, Baines now linked by HOF induction

Divergent personalities Smith, Baines now linked by HOF induction

By George Castle

CBM Historian

Lee Arthur Smith and Harold Baines cannot be more unlike as personalities.

To say Big Lee is raucous, riotous and ribald is putting it mildly. Stick around the man-mountain of a Giants roving minor-league pitching coach even a few minutes, and you’re likely to be doubled over in laughter. If Smith keeps the discourse to a hard-R rating, he’s keeping it clean by his standards. Good ol’ country hardball was his ticket to the majors. Despite his numerous big-league travels, he still identifies as a Cub and desires to be enshrined as a Cub.

Baines?  He’s known to everyone as Harold, we almost forget his last name. Baines used one or two words where a sentence might have been appropriate. Chicago radio talk-meister Les Grobstein once rated Harold practically his worst interview, and not because of any Dave Kingman-style hostility. He just didn’t fill up sound bites for mic jockeys.  And, like Big Lee, Harold put on a slew of uniforms, yet is as loyal a White Sox figure as they come with his number retired and statue in the outfield.

New Hall-of-Famer Baines always a fan favorite shows off his 2005 ring

Smith and Baines are now bound forever by pending induction into the Hall of Fame. Despite their contrasting personal styles, their links did not begin with the uncommon dual voting-in Dec. 9 by the Today’s Game Era Committee, the latest incarnation of the Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee. That panel went many long years without choosing anyone while frustrating Ron Santo, only opening the door with a guilty conscience posthumously for Santo. To wave in two at one time is an old-school CBS-Radio net-alert bulletin.

Smith and Baines were both recruited from off-the-main-road small towns by fellow Hall of Famers. Buck O’Neil found Big Lee in tiny Castor, La., making him the No. 2 Cubs draft choice in 1975. Bill Veeck himself discovered Baines in Easton, Md., on the state’s quaint Eastern Shore where Baseball’s Barnum had established his getaway home. Harold was picked No. 1 by the Sox in the 1977 draft.

Break-ins on tail-ending teams in ‘80

Both players broke into the majors in the same season with little ballyhoo on tail-ending teams that reached or surpassed the 90-loss mark.

Baines arrived first, on April 10, 1980, for young manager Tony La Russa’s 70-90 Sox. Smith pitched as soon as the last-month callups arrived, in the fifth inning on Sept. 1, 1980 at Wrigley Field. He must have shaken his head in worry looking back at his outfield of three first baseman – Bill Buckner in left, Scot Thompson in center and Larry Biittner in right – for  rookie skipper Joey Amalfitano’s 64-98 Cubs. Despite the brush with 100 defeats and slapdash play, the ’80 Cubs used only 12 pitchers overall, so Big Lee had plenty of September-October work, appearing in 18 games.

Baines and Smith should have been voted in by writers. But neither was considered a superstar or impact player at their position. Critics suggested they were members of the “Hall of the Very Good” rather than the elite ranking in Cooperstown. (more…)

Baseball Under Glass

Andre Dawson the water-safety advocate could make another splash with Cubs kids

Some kind of middle ground in apparel must exist between Andre Dawson‘s funeral suit for his family business and the T-shirt and trunks for the youth swimming program that bears his Hall of Fame name in west suburban Lombard.

Like a Cubs uniform?

Andre Dawson is starting his first year as a Cubs ambassador.

In an under-publicized manner, Dawson has indeed worn the Cubs uniform officially for the first time in 26 years in spring training, and hopes to do so again sometime this season for Cubs minor leaguers. Add in more brightly-colored business casual wear for meeting fans and sponsors in other duties as a new team ambassador, and you have the perfect balance in the life of one of the most respected Cubs in history.

“Let’s say I’m all over the place,” Dawson, tracked down in Chicago the other day, said of his 2018 schedule. His base is hometown Miami, but much of his heart is in the city that he claims vaulted him into Cooperstown via six memorable Cubs seasons from 1987 to 1992. Mention that he’d spend even more time in Chicago if the temperature did not drop below 50 and he’d not have to wear anything heavier than a windbreaker, and Dawson breaks into a knowing laugh.

He was cast aside in the off-season, along with fellow Hall of Famer Tony Perez, as a Miami Marlins special assistant by budget-slashing Fish boss Derek Jeter. Regrets are few because Dawson can now work for the Cubs — a longtime goal — while still tending to the funeral home he operates with wife Vanessa and two uncles, earning him national profiles such as respected baseball scribe Bob Nightengale in USA Today:

And when two female fans of Dawson hired him a decade back as national spokesman for their Baby Otter swimming program and wanted to expand out of Florida, he suggested Chicago for obvious reasons. A photo of Dawson in the Lombard pool with a young student and a story in the suburban Daily Herald provided a surprising aspect of his 63-year-young life:

His Cubs role, though, is still in development. He had talked to team chairman Tom Ricketts about a return to the organization on several occasions. He was officially free when he left the Marlins. And Dawson received an alumni 2016 World Series ring in 2017, proudly wearing the bling on three occasions at events. The Chicago Baseball Museum played a role in ensuring Dawson got the ring. The only better outcome would have been Dawson earning the jewelry as a Cubs player in, say, 1989, but that’s a whole other story.

The Cubs now have all their living Hall of Famers in the fold — Dawson, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg as ambassadors, and Billy Williams as a special assistant. By now, Billy must be closing in on Yosh Kawano for most years in the team employ. “Whistler” has 57 seasons recorded as a player, coach, special assistant and marketing speaker.

Lee Smith (left) and Andre Dawson were 1975 draftees, Smith being picked by the Cubs nine rounds ahead of Dawson. But Dawson, who will represent the Cubs at the 2018 draft, made the Hall of Fame.

“I was hired as independent contractor,” the Hawk said. “I’ll go to  a variety of events during the year. When we reached agreement, the only other matter was getting out to spring training. I was in Mesa the final two weeks (of camp). I worked some with the outfielders.”

Dawson will represent the Cubs at the amateur draft starting Monday night, June 4. Back in 1975, the Cubs knew all about the Hawk coming out of Florida, but they passed on him, leaving Montreal to snare his rights.

Outfielder Brian Rosinski of Evanston Township High School was the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in ’75. Injuries derailed Rosinski’s career. Master scout Buck O’Neil got GM John Holland to pick Lee Arthur Smith at No. 2.  Big Lee ended up as the only ’75 Cubs draftee to make the majors — and he should have gone all the way to Cooperstown. Dawson eventually was picked by Montreal in the 11th round. Choosing ahead of the Expos, the Cubs picked shortstop Robert Umfleet out of the University of Oklahoma. Smith and Dawson do a lot of appearances together, so the subject of draft pedigree probably comes up.

A minor-league instructional tour for Dawson at some point this season is under discussion. The Cubs are multiple-men deep in hitting instructors, but they could always use the acumen as an eight-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield.

“I’m waiting to hear from upper management what the next step will be,” Dawson said. “However they see me going forward, that’s what I’m here for.”

Dawson the outfield counselor would be welcome. The Cubs haven’t employed such a big name in the minor leagues since Jimmy Piersall‘s 14-season stint starting in the mid-1980s. Baseball thinking men like Doug Glanville and Darrin Jackson praised Piersall’s animated instruction. Dawson would not be available full-time like Piersall. But the Hawk with his commanding presence and credentials will command attention whenever he steps on the field.

Dawson may not bring up the anecdote to his Cubs pupils, but fundamental outfield play can win games all by itself. Somewhere in the WGN archives is his laser throw to zap a Giants baserunner at home plate and end a Wrigley Field game in 1991.

One wants to be a fly on the wall when Dawson and fellow Miami native Albert Almora, Jr., two experts in center-field play, get together. Dawson was a Montreal Expos Gold Glover in center before the ravages of the Olympic Stadium artificial turf caused his shift to right.  So he knows what goes into a champion ballhawk. (more…)

Santo could have been lock-down Hall of Famer if not for Type 1 diabetes

Count me among the childhood critics of eventual Hall of Famer Ron Santo, getting upset when he hit into a double play with crucial ducks on the pond, or made an error with his frequent Gold Glove at third.

But like so many others five decades ago, I didn’t have all the information at hand. Santo was playing at a perennial All-Star level with Type 1 diabetes that he could not accurately monitor with medical instruments before or during games. He developed educated guesswork when diabetic symptoms began to come on, quaffing a candy bar and/or a can of Coke for an instant sugar fix. Sometimes, though, the symptoms arrived quickly. They may have affected his vision or his physical reactions temporarily and thus in turn cut down on his performance.

Ron Santo (left) already dealt with the effects of Type 1 diabetes on his career when he posed with Vince Lloyd and Ernie Banks in the early 1960s.

As Fergie Jenkins noted, Santo could not have grown speed in his legs — slowness being his only physical drawback.  But some of those double-play grounders may have been slashed through the infield without the diabetic impact on Santo’s reactions.

Imagine a Santo with a modern day medical monitors, being able to head off symptoms at the pass. Cubs closer Brandon Morrow, former Cubs outfielder Sam Fuld and ex-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler were not hampered in their careers through modern medical monitoring of their Type 1, called “juvenile diabetes” in Santo’s time.

He would have had even greater offensive numbers during his 1963-70 prime, and perhaps not have fallen off as quickly as he did in his final four big-league seasons, the last a controversy-filled campaign with the White Sox in 1974. The several Hall of Fame voters who did not like Santo for his 1969 heel-clicking wouldn’t have been enough to deny him entrance into Cooperstown while the then-Cubs broadcaster was still living. Santo ended up selected in a kind of guilt-ridden posthumous vote by an incarnation of the veterans committee soon after his death in 2010. (more…)