The Successful Fight For #14

No doubt moved to action by a public effort launched by the unlikely troika of Reverend Jesse Jackson, WSCR’s Mike North and North’s station-mate, Mike Murphy, the Cubs have decided to erect a statue of Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub is one of the most beloved and historically significant athletes in the city’s history, and per this story in the Chicago Tribune and a phone interview with Ron Santo that played on WGN Radio before Tuesday night’s game in San Diego, it’s apparent that Banks couldn’t be more thrilled. In this regard, I think Ernie is a bigger man than most; I know he’s a bigger man than me. I have always been disgusted that the Cubs chose to honor Harry Caray’s carnival act with a statue near the corner of Addison and Sheffield—not to mention his caricature above the press box and the “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” abomination that John McDonough seems proud to extend indefinitely—before they did anything meaningful and permanent for Banks beyond retiring his jersey. (Jack Brickhouse, too, contributed much, much more to the richness of the Cubs franchise than Caray, but that’s a rant for another day.) If Ernie is happy, then I am happy, too. (I’m ignoring for now McDonough’s ominous warning, reported by Fred Mitchell in the Tribune, that the change in Cub ownership could delay the project.) Congratulations, #14. Those of us who saw you play were fortunate. Those who didn’t missed someone special.
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Comments

It's worth mentioning that Brickhouse does have a very nice statue on Michigan Avenue.

You're right, Borowski, though I never thought it looked much like Brickhouse, and it's somewhat off by itself in the shadow of Tribune Tower. I wish they would move it near Wrigley, maybe in place of the Caray statue.

I never liked the Caray statue either - next year when Caray's replaces Hi-Tops across the street, maybe move it onto Sheffield south of Addison somewhere. Nearby but off the square block.

I don't know how old you are-Cubnut, to have appreciated Ernie or Jack live but you are 100% accurate when you mention Harry's contributions to the Cubs compared to Jack's legacy. If Harry was given a statue Ernie and Jack deserved a the ballpark to be named after them. Don't get me wrong I liked Harry, and certainly Harry made the Cubs popular but comparing broadcasters Jack Brickhouse's contributions were much more significant. Jack was a class act!

I'm way too young to have ever heard Jack Brickhouse, so can you guys provide reasons why he is so much more important than Harry Caray? I'm not saying he wasn't, but just saying something is true doesn't necessarily make it so.

I was a young kid in the eighties, so Harry evokes fond memories of watching the Cub's on WGN and watching him stammer through "Take me out to the ballgame". I don't know much about Brickhouse, but I remember and really liked Caray.

I, too, only knew Carey. Here is a video of Brickhouse calling the 9th inning of Don Cardwell's no-hitter, from The Southpaw:

http://108mag.typepad.com/the_southpaw/2007/0...

And bonus video: The Cubs in the 1929 World Series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U63LW6wV3no

One aspect of the ongoing 'guest conductor' feature that gets increasingly tiresome to me is that the celebrity du jour intrudes on a half inning of both the radio broadcast and the TV telecast of the game. Pat, Ron, Len & Bob have to set them up w/ opps for their career bios, upcoming appearances, films, books, etc. @ the expense of the action on the field. Just play a tape of Harry every day or can it altogether.

Also, I have fond memories of listening on the radio as a kid w/ my dad to Brickhouse, Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau [AKA, 'Good Kid'?]

Re #5: Good article here about Brickhouse's career:
http://wgntv.trb.com/sports/wgntv-brickhouse-...

Re #7:
You're dead on, though I have to admit, the day that Santo and Hughes had to make small talk with Dawn Wells--Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island"--was surreal. One for the ages, as they say.

You can hear Brickhouse call the 9th inning of Don Cardwell's no-hitter at The Southpaw (linked).

Mike Wellman, I completely agree with you. I appreciate Len and Bob's (espy Bob's) commentary enough to wish they were watching the game in the bottom of the seventh.

Maybe they could do the song in the middle of the third!

what i think is interesting is that when they erected the statue of harry, they seemed to be saying that the product of the cubs was entertainment, and that their biggest "star" was an announcer, not a player. i want to be naive enough to think that this correction implies more than putting up a statue of the cub's greatest player, but also a return to stressing the importance of what's going on on the field. as if.

i love that they do this in a clear attempt to divert attention from the fact that the expensive team they fielded this season flat out sucks.

As an old Cub fan, there has been no Cub player in the past 60 years that compares with Banks. He not only was a great player but always a classy citizen. He certainly deserves a statue in front of Wrigley.

As for Brickhouse and Caray, there is no doubt that Brickhouse was a much better technical announcer but like most people I loved Harry's comments. Nobody again will be given the latitude that he enjoyed in the booth.

Cubnut - what i said earlier notwithstanding, i'm sorry i missed out on ginger/mary ann...my guess is that ron santo could expound for hours on the myriad of issues raised by the ill-fated 'three hour tour' of the s.s. minnow.

I can see ron playing 'gilligan' to pat's 'professor'.

I first heard Brickhouse in the late 70s, and thought he, Boudreau and Lloyd were very much past their prime. Those who heard them 20 years earlier assure me that they were great, but I can't say from personal experience.

Harry I did hear when he was with the Sox with Piersall. I've also talked to Cardinal fans who heard him back in the day when he did Cardinal broadcasts. My view of him was with the Cubs he was more of caricature than anything else. He and Piersall were crazy with the Sox, and my sense was he was a much sharper announcer then. I have been told by others that he was wild with the Cardinals also, but also much sharper than he was with the Cubs.

I grew up listening to out of town radio broadcasts of games on Summer nights on the clear channel AM stations located in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and St. Louis, so to me, Harry Caray was the Cards' guy on KMOX ("The Cardinals are coming, tra la, tra la"), I never believed for a minute that he was a true Sox fan or a true Cub fan, just that he grew up a Cards fan, and after he left St. Louis, he remained a baseball fan who really liked other baseball fans. But I doubt that the Cubs were anything special to him, although he obviously enjoyed Chicago and Cubs fans. .

Jack Brickhouse, though, was a true blue, orange, red, and black Chicago sports fan (Bears, Cubs, Sox, and Bulls) who just desperately wanted Chicago teams to win, although (after he retired) spending the summer on the French Riviera was a greater pleasure.

I remember seeing Brickhouse at HoHoKam Park in about 1996 (15 years after he retired), and he was standing up and cheering for the Cubs just like all the other Cubs fans. I doubt that he ever stopped rooting for the Bears, Bulls, or Sox, either.

I can't remotely imagine Brick broadcasting for the Cardinals (for instance). Heck, he was the TV voice for both the Cubs AND the White Sox for about 20 years, and thought nothing of it. He rooted for both teams, and that never seemed odd to me, either, although I can't envision anybody doing that today.

Brickhouse was a very nice man (he was a client of my family's business and I met him a number of times when I was a kid) who was a self-educated high school drop-out who developed a taste for the finer things in life. (Hardly the "gee whiz" bumpkin a lot of people thought he was).

He was also an expert on Chicago and Illinois politics, and was friends with both Democrats and Republicans alike. That's why WGN always pulled Jack off Cubs and Sox games to work the national political conventions, because he could get scoops no other reporter could get. All it took was for Jack to sit down with a political friend for "a few drinks," and while the pol got drunk and spilled his guts, Jack could drink like a fish and stay totally lucid and in control. He was a truly amazing man.

Sometimes I really miss Brickhouse's pet phrases and extreme optimism. In fact his optimism was SO extreme and full,of excuses it was funny, although he would have been crucified for it at a place like TCR. But I really liked it. When Jack yelled "Hey! Hey!" he really meant it.

I liked Jack Brickhouse a lot better when he worked alone on the air (although "Sports Editor" Jack Rosenberg was always nearby typing Jack's "ad libs"). But when Lou Boudreau started working in the booth with Jack for a few innings each game in the 1970's (with Boudreau providing the analysis to Jack's play-by-play), that's when the Cubs broadcasts really went downhill. Jack was one broadcaster who worked better alone. He didn't need a sidekick, except to provide him a break in the 4th, 5th, and 8th innings, so he could enjoy a libation or two.

I vote for moving the Brickhouse statue from the shadows of Michigan Avenue to outside Wrigley Field, and Harry Caray's statue from outside Wrigley to somewhere on Rush Street. That would make a lot more sense.

I don't like how the statue of Harry looks...looks like Chairman Mao...I hope they do a better job with Mr. Cub

Nicely stated AZPhil - although its not Cub related Jack was also the face of WGN for a long time. He also did Bear games for almost 25 years not to mention wrestling, Cubs & Sox as well as one-on-one interviews with politicos, entertainers and athletes. The other thing was Jack knew everyone from Presidents to the ball boys. He was a sharp guy with certain kindness and class and as you correctly stated he could hold his own at any bar. In terms of his announcing style he had a very relaxed method to delivering what was on TV. He talked in spurts and let the visual speak for itself. Too often announcers overstate things and go on and on. Harry was special too but he was no Brickhouse, however in terms of Cubs lore Harry was more Cardinals and Sox in terms of his accomplishements Jack was the Cub.

I think the statue of Jack on Michigan Ave. was a disservice to him. It was a complete insult to the Brickhouse family.

I became a Cubs fan because of Brickhouse, I'd say. Remarkably, growing up in a Sox household, I didn't view Harry as a simple turncoat, maybe because I knew he came from the land of Busch. I enjoyed Harry and Piersall and the other, younger kid that he kicked around with, especially when they showed close ups of Walt Williams spitting into his batting helmut.

Despite Brick's obvious credentials as a true Cubs fan, Harry probably did a lot more to turn the Cubs into a tourist attraction, so it's no wonder they built a statue for the guy. Harry, of course, benefited from the WGN's conversion to a national sports broadcasting outlet, which I don't think had happened by Brick's retirement.

Dying Cub Fan #18

I spend many a night listening to Harry broadcast the Cards games at night when I was young. You are absolutely right when you view him as a caricature by the time he got to the Cubs, but he was still entertaining. I don't remember him being quite as wild in St. Louis as when he was with the White Sox, but Veeck might have encouraged that.

I grew up listening to Brickhouse, but he was such a house man for the Cubs it became infuriating by the late 70's (Jim West, his sidekick for awhile, was almost as bad). Carey was not as good technically, but he called out players when they deserved it - and so many Cubs players richly deserved the criticism he dished out regularly. That's the main reason why Caray and Piersall were kicked out of the White Sox booth - LaRussa couldn't handle their criticism, so Reinsdorf and Einhorn caved.

But I agree that the statue of Caray is an abomination - a yahoo statement by a yahoo franchise.

I used to go to sleep to the voices of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon on the radio; and until I was 9 years old or so was a Cardinal fan...largely because all other teans were a figment of my imagination. We had no TV.

My family was monetarily challenged.....chek that, we had nothing except a roof and food (sometimes)and did not have a TV until the aforementioned time. Even then, we couldn't really see the screen becuase of tubes being blown, etc.

My brother and I whined to Mom about getting this thing called cable TV...and she broke down, but WE were responsible for earning the money mowing lawns, etc, for the neighbors. I remember our first bill was $6.95.....paid mom in cash!!!!!

I remember the first CUBS game I saw on cable (George "The Baron" Mitterwald was the catcher).....thought WGN was bigger than NBC, CBS or ABC...Brickhouse was smart, and he didn't talk with a drawl like all of us did in Southern Iowa and Missouri, back in the day anyway.

Brickhouse was my first exposure to something that was beyond rural Iowa......he was smart....low key.....had an easy way about him...and for a young boy that had experience dlife as the son of a violent alchoholic father, Brickhouse in some way was an example of adult men that were.....just okay, different, nice, easy going, guys who could laugh, but werent goons.

I get chills when I hear recordings of his voice. By today's standards, he's too vanilla....but for me, I'd chip in a chunk of dough to move his statue to Wrigely Field, where it belongs.

If someone can organize it, let me know. I'm in.
Joey from Mankato

Brickhouse was the voice I came home to from school in the 70's.

Back, Back....Hey!Hey!

WHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

I remember one rainy day game and the Cubs were losing, as usual, and Brickhouse remarked something along the lines of "You know, its days like today that make you want to tape worms to the sidewalk just to watch the birds struggle."

Im not sure what he meant by it, but Ive remembered it all these years.

Jack Brickhouse was my babysitter, too, Jacos. From preschool through second grade when I lived in Glen Ellyn, ('65-'70) I came home from school in the afternoons and watched day games from Wrigley on WGN, using the ol' rabbit ears antenna (remember those?).

I used to love how his voice would crack when he got excited. That man was my hero growing up. I always wanted to be Jack Brickhouse.

My wife wouldnt let me name my son Jack Brickhouse though. She didnt understand.

Im still bitter.

As someone eluded to earlier in the thread. All you need to know about the priorities of the organization since they bought the team was to look out at sheffield and addison and see who they had a statue of. Its a disgrace they picked a damn TV announcer to build a statue of rather of any player. The Tribune is a joke. No matter who ends up getting this team, the day the trib no longer owns the Cubs, it will be a good day.

Especially an announcer who used to work for the Cardinals and White Sox. I mean, come ON!!!

Eh, Haray Caray picked me out of a crowd when I was a teenager and spoke to me for a good 10 minutes. It was a difficult period in my life, and he was a shining spot that I will always remember. My dad and I had a lot of issues, but the times he took me to Wrigley Field were some of the best times we had, and Caray was a symbol of those times to me.

"I don’t remember him being quite as wild in St. Louis."

I think Auggie Busch would disagree with that.

chifan 3887:

Don't get me wrong, harry could be wild in St. Louis but when he and Jimmy teamed up with the Sox, they were sheer mayham at times/

Augie Busch and Bill Veeck had quite different ideas on what they wanted on the air. Veeck was a showman and anything that drew fans was just great with him. I know I am in the minority but believe that Veeck (as in wreck) did more harm to the baseball product than good.

I grew up with Bozo the Clown and Jack Brickhouse on WGN, how cool that was for a young baseball kid. Bozo, then a shortened 15-minute newscap on WGN (that was lunchtime!), then the Lead-Off Man, then the Cubs game. Simpler times, but in many ways, enviable times.

Brickhouse was a CLASS act, but I do agree, towards the end he was getting pretty lame in the booth, he probably stayed on a few years too long. But he earned the right to call his own retirement.

I grew up listening to Brickhouse and he struck me as a dull-witted homer, although AZ Phil paints a different picture. WGN always had a better crew on the radio, Jack Quinlan and later Vince Lloyd with Lou Boudreau as the analyst. Boudreau was a little like Girardi, maybe, a brilliant manager who ruffled feathers and couldn't hold a job. But Boudreau kept the radio gig for many years.

It's hard to do justice to how great a player Ernie Banks was. Just logically, how great must he have been to win back-to-back MVPs in the absolute heyday of Aaron, Mays and Clemente?

Some folks on this board have probably only seen Banks taking a swing at the ball that became his 500th home run, but he was an old guy then with a swing that had slowed by about half. If you want to picture the wristy swing of a younger Banks, think Soriano. But there are no videotapes of that Banks, since the medium hadn't been invented yet.

My stepdad always spoke of Banks as one of the only bright spots during all those losing years.

My thesis advisor gave me a Cubs jersey when I graduated last fall. It's the home pinstripes, with my name across the back (Bredemeyer) and number 14. He said I embodied the spirit of Ernie Banks and his "Let's play two!" attitude while working in my advisor's research lab. (Nice compliment, actually.)

So I wore it to Wrigley last month. What do you think the response was--a #14 jersey with someone else's name on it at Wrigley field?

This team is really pathetic. I think the Padres have as many homeruns in this series as the Cubs have hits. With Young on the mound to close this series, a sweep appears pretty much in the bag.

I concur that there should be a Banks statue and should've been before one of Cary, but be realistic, here...if not for Harry Caray broadcasting in the 80s, Wrigley would not be full to this day. The current crop of yuppies dropping 30-some bucks on BLEACHER tickets certainly didn't get hooked on the team itself. And who else from the 80s era Cubs would you immortalize, Leon Durham?

Caray made Wrigley seem like a fun place to be even if the team stunk. All you geezers groaning on and on about Brickhouse needing to have his statue moved and made a Saint by the Holy See, etc.--what was the average attendence during the Brickhouse era?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

no — May 24, 2007 @ 10:15 am
I concur that there should be a Banks statue and should’ve been before one of Cary, but be realistic, here…if not for Harry Caray broadcasting in the 80s, Wrigley would not be full to this day. The current crop of yuppies dropping 30-some bucks on BLEACHER tickets certainly didn’t get hooked on the team itself. And who else from the 80s era Cubs would you immortalize, Leon Durham?

Caray made Wrigley seem like a fun place to be even if the team stunk. All you geezers groaning on and on about Brickhouse needing to have his statue moved and made a Saint by the Holy See, etc.–what was the average attendence during the Brickhouse era?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Chicago Cubs attendance at Wrigley Field

=============================

NO: That's just absurd. People do not come out to Wrigley Field or stay home because of the TV and radio announcers.

And it was typically brilliant of you to use Leon Durham as an example of a Cubs "star" from the 1980's who could of been immortalized in statue instead of Harry Caray, intead of mentioning Ryne Sandberg (who's in the goddam Hall of Fame).

Attendance at Wrigley Field has followed the general increase in attendance for MLB in general over the years, but where there have been spikes, they have corresponded with the Cubs having a contending team. And the real change for the better occurred in 1984, when the Cubs (with Ryne Sandberg--NOT Leon Durham--as MVP) won the division with the best record in the N. L. and just missed getting into the World Series for the first time since 1945.

The Cubs have ALWAYS drawn well when they have a contending team, and then in the last few years (but only AFTER Harry died) they have drawn well even when they don't have a good year, but again that all started AFTER Harry Caray died.

So if Harry had any impact, it was maybe on TV ratings for WGN, not on attendance at Wrigley Field. So then they should move Harry's statue to somewhere outside 2401 W. Bradley Pl.

Up until about ten years ago, attendance at Wrigley was positively influenced only by having what was perceived by the fans as a contending team. People (and you are obviously the exception) did not and do not come out to Wrigley Field or stay home because of the announcers.

ATTENDANCE AT WRIGLEY FIELD:
2006 3,123,215 (Still no Harry)
2005 3,100,262 (Where's Harry? He's dead)
2004 3,170,154 (Harry remains dead)
2003 2,962,630 (Harry is still dead)
2002 2,693,096 (Harry still dead)
2001 2,779,465 (Harry not around)
2000 2,789,511 (No Harry)
1999 2,813,854 (Harry still dead)
1998 2,623,194 (500,000+ increase- Cubs win Wild Card - Harry is dead)
1997 2,190,308 (Harry's last year)
1996 2,219,110
1995 1,918,265 (1st season after strike)
1994 1,845,208 (strike year)
1993 2,653,763
1992 2,126,720
1991 2,314,250
1990 2,243,791
1989 2,491,942 (Cubs win division)
1988 2,089,034
1987 2,035,130
1986 1,859,102
1985 2,161,534
1984 2,107,655 (Cubs win division - best record in N. L.)
1983 1,479,717
1982 1,249,278 (Harry's 1st year)
1981 565,637 (strike year - Cubs finish last)
1980 1,206,776 (Cubs finish last)
1979 1,648,587
1978 1,525,311
1977 1,439,834 (Cubs in 1st place til July)
1976 1,026,217 (lousy team)
1975 1,034,819 (lousy tram)
1974 1,015,378 (Cubs "rebuilding" - finish last)
1973 1,351,705
1972 1,299,163 (Durocher Cubs)
1971 1,653,007 (Durocher Cubs)
1970 1,642,705 (Durocher Cubs)
1969 1,674,993 (Duricher Cubs)
1968 1,043,409 (Durocher Cubs)
1967 977,226 (Cubs contender for first time since 1945)
1966 635,891
1965 641,361
1964 751,647
1963 979,551 (Cubs over .500 1st time since 1953)
1962 609,802
1961 673,057

Couldn't disagree more with your ASSessment of the tribute paid to Harry Caray.

I am happy that Bank will be getting a statue, although I wish Jesse Jackson would take his race-baiting act elsewhere, preferably sowwhere the sun dont shine.

Where was Jackson in February when Ron Santo was again inexplicably and unjustifiably denied entrance into the Hall of Fame?

My thought is Ronnie's skin simply doesn't have enough melanin in it to merit Jackson's attention.

*NO: That’s just absurd. People do not come out to Wrigley Field or stay home because of the TV and radio announcers.*

Then you proceed to dump a bunch of numbers that basically proves my point. The Cubs in the 80s had twice as many in the seats as the "good" Cubs teams under Durocher for crying out loud.

Harry got national exposure even when the team stunk, even if it was someone making fun of him. The man had a best-selling autobiography. Hell, Steve Stone wrote a book about Harry and it sold well. Who else associated with the Cubs from 83-98 was that popular? Grace? Sandberg? Not even close.

NO: As I said, attendance at Wrigley Field has followed the general increase in attendance for MLB in general over the years, but where there have been spikes, they have corresponded with the Cubs having a contending team.

BTW, the main point here is that IF you have to build a statue of somebody outside a ball park, make it a BASEBALL PLAYER (like Ernie Banks), not a freakin' Radio-TV announcer.

Da Kronikal hits the nail on the head. Jackson and Sharpton are race baiting losers drunk with their own power after the Imus Incedent. Most people are too PC (without even realizing it?) to admit it.

*attendance at Wrigley Field has followed the general increase in attendance for MLB in general over the years*

Huh. I guess all those empty seats I see everywhere are just people who bought, say, Pirates tickets, but were too lazy to show up.

* but where there have been spikes, they have corresponded with the Cubs having a contending team. *

The Cubs have been near or above the 2 million mark for what, 2 decades in a row, bar strike years?

They have been a "contending" team how many of those years?

NO: So you honestly seriously believe Harry Caray is responsible for increases in Cubs attendance starting in 1984? You must be either really gullible or retarded (probably both).

The Harry Caray propaganda troller snagged you and reeled you right in, didn't it?

Yes, it sure is amazing how Harry Caray--who was (and remains) quite dead--could have caused the spike in attendance from 1997 to 1998 that remains at an even higher level today.

With the Cubs drawing an all-time record 3.1 million-plus each of the last three seasons (the last two of which were losing seasons), you must think Len Kasper and Bob Brenly are even bigger and better than Harry Caray. What other explanation is there for maintaining the all-time record single-season attendance through two losing seasons? It's GOT to be Len Kasper and Bob Brenly. Let's build them a freakin' statue, too. Put it right next to Harry's.

Ohh, I've never seen Phil so upset before.

You are obviously joking about Len&Bob statues, but I could see a Steve Stone version (as well as him being back in the booth)!

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