Chicago

‘Coach Katie Krall’ has a good ring to it for lifelong Park Ridge sports, academic achiever

By George Castle, CBM Historian

Timing and politics are intertwined in baseball, just like peanuts and Cracker Jack once were.

Thus Katie Krall has picked just the right moment to learn and thrive as a uniformed female pro baseball coach. Supplementing her own merit and drive is a game-wide commitment to diversity that not only promotes women working in baseball operations in the front office, but also in the dugout.

Katie Krall works with a pitching machine in the Red Sox's recent mini-camp in Ft. Myers. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Red Sox)

Katie Krall works with a pitching machine in the Red Sox’s recent mini-camp in Ft. Myers. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Red Sox)

The very presence of a woman in uniform might have been unthinkable two decades ago, let alone a half-century back, when Leo Durocher ordered Chicago Today sportswriter Linda Morstadt off the field at Wrigley Field as a supposed distraction to his Cubs players. Move the clock forward 17 years, and Chuck Tanner, best-known for his unorthodox handling of Dick Allen with the White Sox, harangued and harassed Robin Monsky, his Braves media relations director, until she was driven out of the organization.

Now, the hiring of Park Ridge, Ill. native Krall as the second female coach in the Red Sox farm system, soon after the Yankees hired a female manager, results in a series of stories temporarily distracting from baseball’s labor problems. But the news was hardly earth-shaking in the manner of Jackie Robinson’s and Frank Robinson’s breaking the color line as a player and manager, respectively, in 1947 and 1975. Baseball seemed to be organically moving this way, anyway.

“I definitely feel appreciative,” Krall said amid the warmth of southwest Florida. “I am the beneficiary of my time, and of all the women that came before me. I hope I can move the needle more.

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Tributes pour in after White Sox play-by-play man Ed Farmer’s death

Tributes are pouring in after White Sox play-by-play man Farmer’s death the other day at 70, having fought the good fight against kidney disease for decades.

Ed Farmer

By George Castle, CBM Historian, April 3, 2020

You always treasure a native Chicagoan rising high in media as sometimes such a status seems a detriment to hiring in a “destination market” like the Second City.

Non-natives hiring non-natives gets expressed in the TV newsperson pronouncing Devon Avenue as “DEE-VON” or the baseball beat writer from Seattle having to spend his entire first season on the job educating himself about Cubs 101.

No worries about Ed Farmer, though. Tributes are pouring in after White Sox play-by-play man Farmer’s death the other day at 70, having fought the good fight against kidney disease for decades.

WGN may brand itself “Chicago’s Very Own” (“Chicago’s Own Television Station” back in the 1960s), but Farmio surely was our “Very Own.” I’d rather have someone not a classic, dulcet-toned announcer work at the top of the food chain if he can talk the city’s language, customs and history.

Farmio may have received brickbats from baseball-broadcast purists for a near-laconic, conversational on-air style, yet status as an authentic Chicagoan overrides these picky details. More specifically, a St. Rita man. The Southwest Side Catholic high school, home to so much athletic success this past century, is such a quintessential representation of the city, an amalgamation of neighborhoods and parishes from which residents drew their identities.

In remembering Farmio, Cubs color analyst Ron Coomer provided a glimpse into the academic and athletic culture of St. Rita that helped shape the former. Coomer, whose early years were spent living near Midway Airport, attended St. Rita his first two years before the family moved to southwest suburban Lockport.

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Niece Who Led Cause to Clear Buck Weaver is Dead at Age 92

Pat Anderson dead at age 92

By on April 14, 2019

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  https://www.clearbuck.com 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.

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