On a February night in 2002, I stood outside Vince Lloyd’s Green Valley, Ariz. retirement home with the host. We both looked to the countless stars in the desert sky.
Vince Lloyd, depicted at Comiskey Park, in 1964 (Image courtesy Tribune Content Agency).
The previous year, Lloyd’s old WGN comrades-in-arms-Lou Boudreau and Arne Harris had died. Back in 1998, Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray passed away. Talking about Brickhouse, Vince said he had a telling feeling that Jack had died earlier that day, before he heard the news. That’s how connected the WGN boys were through what Brickhouse called “80-hour work weeks” and rotating poker games at the sports staff’s homes.
“They were my friends,” Lloyd said, looking up.
Nothing is forever except friendship and great memories. A year and a half later, the man born Vince Lloyd Skaff in South Dakota in 1917 also was consigned to fond remembrance, his stout heart, trademark baritone voice and old Marine Corps toughness unable to outlast cancer at 86. I cherished Vince’s good fellowship and support of my career in his later life, after he had served as a youthful soundtrack of summers as he did for several million Midwest listeners as a verbally animated Cubs radio voice.
I committed to the concept to garner honors and recognition for Vince, probably underrated during his prime since Brickhouse had the highest regional profile as Cubs TV play-by-play with the most games on video in the majors. But the Ford Frick Award, baseball’s highest honor for an announcer, seemed beyond Lloyd’s reach posthumously. Soon after his July 2003 death, I added Vince Lloyd at the last moment to my “Where Have All Our Cubs Gone?” book, published in 2005, as a means to remember him.
Jack Rosenberg with a typical pose in the old WGN-TV broadcast booth, ready to work with his trusty manual typewriter.
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.
How appropriate Tommy John and Nancy Faust get inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals together in Pasadena, California on July 22.
Nancy Faust is set to be honored by Baseball Reliquary’s Shire of Eternals
Lefty John was the savvy White Sox starting rotation veteran for whom rookie team organist Faust played appropriate theme music in 1970, trying to provide some entertainment for a lost 106-defeat season.
And even 48 years later, Faust — who always ad-libbed theme songs for her players — came up with John-oriented songs that she likely would have played for the tiny crowds at her center-field organ at old Comiskey Park.
“I probably played ‘Big Bad John’ or the theme for ‘Tommy,'” said Faust, the latter for the then-recent rock opera from “The Who.” “Or maybe ‘Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley.'”
“I couldn’t be more honored to be on the same (induction) ceremony with Tommy John.”
The West Coast audience likely will associate John much more with his groundbreaking elbow ligament reconstruction surgery by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974 instead of his original Sox tenure. But they’ll sure know about Faust, whom the Baseball Reliquary described as “the most famous ballpark organist in the last half century.”
Still blonde, perky, and youthful, the far north suburban Mundelein resident at nearly the same time originated the seventh-inning singalong with Harry Caray and the playing of “Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Them Good-Bye” when a Sox opposing pitcher was pulled from the game. Her 41 seasons at the organ at two ballparks, ranging from that horrible ’70 season to the World Series champions in 2005, was a true pinpoint of joy in Chicago baseball history
Dave “Baby” Cortez crafted “The Happy Organ,” the first instrumental to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 charts in 1959. But “Baby” still had nothing on Faust in full keyboard throttle.
Faust was so popular she was the No. 3 vote-getter in the Reliquary’s version of the Hall of Fame. The top three gain entry into the Shrine of the Eternals. John got 44 percent, the recently deceased Rusty Staub 29 percent, and Faust 26.5 percent. And how delicious was it that the cheery Faust beat out the second runner-up: Leo Durocher at 25 percent. At 23 years-old Faust was up-and-coming in 1970 while Durocher should have still been going at 64, his sclerotic managing eight miles north wasting a fine collection of future Hall of Fame Cubs.
Baseball honors should not be limited to just the Hall of Fame or post-season writers’ awards votes. The Baseball Reliquary is a nonprofit, educational organization https://www.baseballreliquary.org dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history. The West Coast-based Reliquary gladly accepts the donation of artworks and objects of historic content, provided their authenticity is well-documented.
A grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission supports the Reliquary, which is affiliated with the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies. The Institute, the first humanities-based research center of its kind associated with a college or university in the United States, is a partnership between Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary and Whittier College.
Thus honored by this prestigious academic institution, Faust joins some fellow White Sox eternals with whom she was associated in her long career.
John was traded at the 1971 winter meetings for Dick Allen, an enshrinee. She had no shortage of inspiring songs to play for the 1972 American League MVP. She would play “Jesus Christ Superstar” when Allen came to bat. Faust also played for fellow Eternal Minnie Minoso in his brief comebacks in 1976 and 1980. Ditto for Bo Jackson when he played for the Sox despite hip-replacement surgery in the early 1990s. Bill Veeck, who masterminded the Caray-Faust seventh-inning combo, is a member. Jimmy Piersall, Caray’s partner in their guerilla-theater-of-the-air presentation under Veeck, has been inducted.
The old upper-deck organ loft at Comiskey Park, where Nancy Faust could make eye contact with Harry Caray in the broadcast booth for their seventh-inning singalongs.
Amazingly, a second Veeck drew votes in this year’s balloting. Mike Veeck, Bill’s son and instigator of the famed Disco Demolition promotion-gone-bad, drew 17.5 percent of the votes.
Our own CBM Founder, Dr. David Fletcher was the winner in 2005 of the Baseball Reliquary’s Hilda Award for his work trying to get MLB to reinstate banned Sox third baseman Buck Weaver. Named in memory of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers baseball fan Hilda Chester, the Hilda Award was established in 2001 by the Baseball Reliquary to recognize distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan.
You wish Faust could play at the Pasadena ceremony. But at 70, she likely hits the keyboard only for her family these days. She is mostly retired, only playing for specific events that suit her. In 2006, she began cutting back her South Side schedule to day games only before leaving the Guaranteed Rate Field organ booth for good in 2010.
“I wanted to quit when I was still good,” she said. “I want the memories to be good. Forty-one years was a long time.”
Faust played Sunday home games for the Class-A Kane County Cougars for a couple of years, but even that gig is in the rear-view mirror as she wanted her Sundays free.
Now she travels around the Midwest and winters in Arizona with husband Joe Jenkins. She played at the Cactus League kickoff luncheon at a Phoenix hotel in February. At home in Lake County, the animal-lover tends to beloved full-sized female donkey Mandy and miniature donkey Gigi on the couple’s five-acre spread.
It’s always great to be remembered,” Faust said. “You like to think you made a difference in people’s lives. I am most humbled and pinch myself to have had the career I did. I feel fortunate my life took me in the direction it did. If I had any notoriety, it’s because I’m a good musician. Hopefully my fingers spoke for themselves.
Joe McConnell, a truly underrated White Sox radio announcer spanning the Bill Veeck and Jerry Reinsdorf ownership groups from 1980 to 1984, died at 79 on April 8.
McConnell’s time with the Sox overlapped his eight-year stint (1977-84) as the Bears’ chief radio announcer. Timing is everything – McConnell left the year before Super Bowl XX.
Like Jack Brickhouse, Joe McConnell broadcast the Bears and Chicago baseball at the same time.
He worked alongside two of the best loved Sox announcers in history, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall. In that time he saw a young manager and future Hall of Famer, Tony LaRussa get his first taste of success. He saw new Sox ownership in Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn take over for Veeck. He saw the formation of a team that had three straight winning seasons, capped off by the 1983 Western Division champion “Winnin’ Ugly” White Sox.