Chicago Baseball History
By George Castle, CBM Historian
December 29, 2020
Jack Rosenberg had to be the ultimate people person with the persuasive touch to book sitting presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan for WGN-TV baseball broadcasts.
But as adept as “Rosey” was for the station for whom he served as the “glue” for sports programming for more than three decades, he was even better when it came to dedicating his good works in memory of beloved wife Mayora Rosenberg.
Rather than simply mourning his beloved Mayora through his 80s, Rosey ensured her social-work career in tough inner-city circumstances would be remembered. Using the phone and pressing the flesh, two of his sublime attributes, the gravel-voiced native of downstate Pekin, Ill. helped spearhead a multi-millions fund-raising campaign for a women’s center at Swedish Hospital (formerly Swedish Covenant) in Chicago.
The value of a women’s center was not taken lightly. For religious or other reasons, many women felt uncomfortable seeing a male physician. At the new center, they could visit a female doctor in welcoming surroundings. Rosey’s involvement and work ethic ensured the project would get done.
Unfortunately, the next time Rosenberg’s name came up in connection with Swedish Hospital was the kind of bad news that 2020 — rivaling 1932 and 1861 as the worst years in U.S. history — has trademarked. Media accounts on Monday, Dec. 28, reported Rosey had died at 94 at the hospital. (more…)
By George Castle CBM Historian
and David Fletcher, CBM President
December 7, 2020
“Better late than never” truly defined Dick Allen’s baseball life.
“Late,” but properly credited, can sum up Allen’s epitaph. The man who likely saved the White Sox for Chicago with his Most Valuable Player season in 1972 died at 78 on Monday, Dec. 7, after a long illness in Wampum, Pa., Allen’s hometown. And now the statistical perspectives will come forth to show Allen is Hall of Fame worthy — unfortunately, posthumously.
Allen was the controversial slugger recognized as one of the game’s best all-around players — a seven-time All-Star, an MVP winner (1972), and a Rookie of the Year winner (1964 — in his 15-year career spanning an era of pitching dominance. Yet decades later the clearer eye of history could put his performance and his impact on baseball in a more proper perspective. He was a man ahead of his times who overcame racism with dignity and grace.
When Allen was on top of his game, he was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball. During the 10 seasons between 1964 and 1973, Allen had an Adjusted OPS (OPS+) of 165, which was the highest-ranking OPS+ in the majors during that decade. That figure was greater than 11 Hall of Famers who played during that era, including No. 2 Hank Aaron (161), No. 3 Willie McCovey (161), No. 5 Harmon Killebrew (152), No. 6 Willie Stargell (152), No. 7 Roberto Clemente (151), No. 8 Mays (148) and No. 10 Al Kaline (140.)
During that decade-long span, Allen averaged 29 homers and 89 RBIs while hitting .299 with a .940 OPS (on base Percentage + slugging percentage.) Only Aaron’s .941 OPS was better over that span.
Allen should have been honored continually on the South Side for his 1972 Most Valuable Player season that teamed with broadcaster Harry Caray to save the White Sox for Chicago. But not until 40 years later was Allen properly recognized for his heroic one-man show in a special tribute and retrospective press conference at US Cellular Field set up by the Chicago Baseball Museum in June 2012.
The man tagged with the nickname “Richie,” after Phillies demigod Richie Ashburn, and not his preferred Dick, was Philadelphia’s first star African-American baseball player in 1964, almost a decade after top players of color broke through in many other big-league cities. He produced, but had clashes aplenty and was booed. Both the Phillies fans and front office did not really know what they had. Time travel to pandemic-upended 2020 before the Phillies franchise properly honored Allen and retired his No. 15 with the Phillies on Sept. 3 at Citizens Bank Ballpark. Allen finally got the apology and redemption from the City of Philadelphia he had deserved for a half-century. (more…)
Baseball Under Glass
Thom Ross makes his point – very sharply – about the Black Sox via his art in the most publicized exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of sports’ biggest scandal.
All of Ross’ drawings of the celebrities, sanctimonious arbiters and shadowy characters involved in the attempting throwing of the 1919 World Series have angular, almost severe lines. He did not sketch rounded, softer edges. The style makes everyone seem taller.
In fact, Ross’ depiction of Kenesaw Mountain Landis required a rectangular display case. The judge who threw the book – and then some – at the Black Sox almost seems to grow out of his confines with the artist making him long, lean and spare.
A lot of the motivations of the 1919 White Sox who took gamblers money and those who judged them are still up for debate. But not Ross’ MO in his sketching style. He has put it all together in an exhibit, “The Black Sox – A Century Later,” running through July at the Beverly Arts Center on the southwest corner of Western Avenue and 111th Street in Chicago. Commuters from nearby I-57 on 111th go up a sudden incline at Longwood Drive to Chicago’s highest point to gain a special perspective into baseball’s lowest moment that has been made into books, movies and endless recrimination.
“It’s just who I am,” Ross said, appropriately dressed in 1919 garb, complete with straw skimmer, for the opening of the exhibit. “My theory is things like mythology and legend are inspired by historical stories and truth. But it gets warped (over the decades). That’s why these figures (with sharp edges) don’t look like photographs. In that mythic world, you appear like you do in a dream. (more…)
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?
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: