I enjoyed the previous book I read by Jerome Holtzman, so I decided to try another. This one was written by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass. The full title is “Baseball, Chicago Style – A Tale of Two Teams, One City”. It was published in 2001.
First of all, that title reminded me of the TV comedy show from the 70s: “Love, American Style”, the stupid theme song of which is going through my head right now. And the name of that TV show reminded me of the Marcello Mastroianni movie “Divorce, Italian Style” from the 60s.
And so we have: “Baseball, Chicago Style”. As you might guess, this is a book about the two teams currently known as “The Chicago Cubs” and “The Chicago White Sox”.
I know I’ve said this before, but the White Sox might as well have been playing on the moon for all I know about them. I don’t have anything against them, I just never paid any attention to them.
And since I only followed the Cubs during the 50s and 60s, and again during the past year and a half, there’s a lot I don’t know about them, too.
I enjoyed reading this book. It describes, with 20/20 hindsight, what was happening to these teams simultaneously, since at least as far back as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and up through the 2001 season.
Here are some favorite excerpts:
- “If we cannot be first we care not for second, which is but the anteroom to oblivion,”
- “Times have changed. Today the women don’t shoot. They sue.”
- “He could speak 12 languages, but couldn’t hit in any of them.”
- “According to some people…losing is the worst thing in the world. Well, it isn’t. What’s worse is allowing yourself to be eaten alive by it.”
- “In a perverse way, 1948 was a ‘miracle season’, the White Sox and Cubs accomplishing the unprecedented and uncomfortable feat of both finishing in last place in the same year.”
- “Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko, an ardent, if realistic and hard-bitten, Cub fan, remarked whimsically: ‘Maybe that’s what they should put on his plaque when he goes into the Hall of Fame: ‘Ryne Sandberg, who walked away from one of the biggest paychecks in baseball, because he didn’t think he was earning it’.’”
- “Either a brief burst of hope followed by a period of despair, or a period of despair followed by a brief burst of hope.
It’s been that way since 1946, and the Cubs have always run strictly true to that inconsistent pattern since their last pennant in 1945.”
- “Rather than attract fans with his batting prowess, Belle repelled them with a surly, belligerent attitude.”
- “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Well, I was born great.”
- “Wrigley’s principal concern was maintaining ‘Beautiful Wrigley Field,’ more than the team itself. ‘We can’t guarantee a winning team,’ he said, ‘but we can guarantee the physical properties. We can take care of that’.”
- “To Grimm, baseball was fun, not war.”
- “I’d rather be a lamppost in Chicago than a millionaire in any other city.”
- “a manager must adapt his style to what material he’s got. There’s no other way to do it.”
The front cover proclaims: “Cubs- Sox Pictures, Bios and Anecdotes Capturing the Best and the Most Memorable”. Also: “Untold Stories about the Black Sox Scandal and Cubs Intrigue”
I enjoyed reading “Baseball, Chicago Style”, and I recommend it to any and all with an interest in Chicago baseball history.