One day Joey Chruby my next door neighbor and I decided to throw mud balls at the Durocher's side window. It was retaliation in that every time our wiffle ball went into Durochers' yard, they kept it. The Durochers' yard was at the end of our backyard. Half the neighborhood could fit into our small patch of suburban paradise for a wiffle ball game.
But god forbid if Mike Mintz, now the "singing orthodontist" on WJOB, or Jonny Pupillo, the musician who calls once in a while, hit a home run into the Durochers' yard. Mr. Durocher would harrumph, bend over, pick up the wiffle ball, and throw it in his shed. Then he'd walk into his house. Unless we had a spare wiffle ball, it was game over
There is irony here. The Durochers were part of, yes, that Durocher family. Every once in a while, Leo Durocher would appear in their backyard for a barbecue. Perhaps one of the three or four of you who read this blog regularly will recognize the name, especially if you used to rush home from school to watch the end of Cubs games on Channel 9.
Yes, that Leo Durocher, the manager of the Cubs. You could watch him kick dust at Harry Wendelstedt one day and see him on the Durochers' back porch the next.
So here is one of the biggest figures in baseball and if, god forbid, we hit a wiffle ball into his nephew's backyard, the ball would be lost forever. Go figure.
And it was "go figure" that Joey Chruby and I attempted to do. One day after losing another waffle ball to the vast emptiness of the Durocher shed, Joey and I put dirt in a bucket, added some water from the hose, packed grainy little mud balls, then snuck around to the side of the Durochers' house and whipped them at a window.
Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.
And then we ran - directly back to our houses. A few minutes later, Mr. Durocher, the nephew of one of the titans of major league baseball, came rambling through our backyard and knocked on our side door. By the time Chruby's dad and my dad got home from work, Joey and I were carrying a ladder between the garages. It took forever to scrape away the dried mud and even longer to Windex.
"You missed a spot," my dad said from the bottom of the ladder. "Do it again."
It was slightly humiliating to be standing on a ladder scraping mud balls, especially when Russel Gower and Steve Woehler walked by pointing and laughing. And by Windexing the Durocher's window over and over again, I developed a lifelong aversion to washing any sort of window.
But the question remains - was it worth it?
Absolutely. You have no idea how good it felt to throw mud balls at Durocher's side window. And from that day on, for whatever reason, every time a wiffle ball flew over the fence, the portly Mr. Durocher would take a puff of his cigar, amble over to the ball, pick it up with a sigh, and flip it over the fence. Problem solved.
... I don't know why I thought of that just now, other than I'm trying not to watch CNN and Fox tell differing stories of the same bombing events in the middle East. As far as I can tell - and you have to carry a translator with you to get this far - president Trump, who is being impeached this week, threw a few mud balls at Iran by killing a guy named General Soleimani. The Iraqis, in response, are throwing the American soldiers out in a manner not totally unlike Mr. Durocher sighing as bent over to pick up a wiffle ball.
In the meantime, tonight the Iranis threw a few bombs at an American base but didn't kill anyone. Either they're really bad aim or they just wanted to retaliate without starting a war. Either way, I gotta get up in a few hours and do a morning show.
It's now past midnight. It's Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, so I have to refer to my last show as "Tuesday's show." Tuesday's show started out with Verlie and I arguing about whether or not the Times newspaper is a "local" newspaper. They're owned by Lee Enterprises, which owns dozens or dailies and hundreds of weeklies across America. It was a decent argument, but, to be square with the three or four of you, Verlie got the better of me. For whatever reason, I'm not on my arguing game these days. I'm thinking too hard about things other than the current events of the Calumet Region.
And what would that be?
I'm trying real hard to set a course for my media shit for 2020. And we're close. Debbie Wargo, Ryan Walsh, Tony Panek and Sam Michel and I had our staff meeting... and we're close. We have stumbled on to the magic of streaming media. Our audience is growing. Our impact on the Region is growing. After almost 16 years of muddling through the waning days of radio, we are emerging as a new media. It's exciting, but we also have to make smart decisions.
In the end, I'm not concentrating like I should on the issues of the day in the Calumet Region. It came out in a half-hearted response to Verlie's charges today. I enjoyed the banter, but I really didn't care about the outcome, which is no way for a media soldier to be. So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go prepare for a show in a few hours. You sleep, I'll prepare. Good night, er, good morning.
As a kid, we lived at 8125 Madison Avenue behind Munster Lanes and the Colonial Motel. Later, I worked on a sewer project on Manor Avenue as a 41 Laborer. The tunnelers on the project came in from Tennessee and stayed at the Colonial. They hired hookers and drank all night by the pool.
Then they woke up in the morning and dug tunnels under Ridge Road.
It’s 11:30pm on the Sunday before the Monday that officially marks the end of Christmas break. I did the show on Friday but for 10 days before that I did family stuff. Time to get to work.
And by “work” I mean what?
It’s midnight, so I’ll be talking on the radio and TV in less than six hours. There’s not enough time to sleep. There never is.
I have been waking up before 5am for 33 years – 18 as a trader and 15 as a radio guy. Before that, in high school, my dad would wake me up on Saturdays at 5am to work all day as a union construction Laborer. I’d make about a hundred bucks a Saturday, which was great money back then. In the winter, I would sometimes have to cut out early to play a high school basketball game.