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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Locking up Cubs legend Yosh Kawano also got Supreme Court OK

Posted By on 06.27.18 at 11:56 PM

Japanese-American internment camps were also upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Japanese-American internment camps were also upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In one of those quirky fates of timing, Yosh Kawano died the day before the U.S. Supreme Court approved President Trump's travel ban on people from several Muslim countries.

As any longtime Cubs fan can tell you, Kawano, 97, was the ageless clubhouse attendant made famous over the years by Jack Brickhouse, Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, Harry Caray, and other legendary TV and radio broadcasters.

How many times did we hear Brickhouse allude to Kawano, followed by a cutaway to the man in his instantly recognizable white floppy hat, perched on the dugout bench?

He ran the clubhouse for more than 60 years, welcoming the likes of everyone from Ernie Banks to Ryne Sandberg to Kerry Wood.

What Brickhouse and the other announcers didn't mention was that Kawano—born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles—was unceremoniously, unfairly, and most unconstitutionally plucked from his home and interned in a concentration camp during World War II. It was the same for thousands of other Japanese-Americans.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

World Cup brings out Chicago superfans of every country [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 06.18.18 at 06:23 PM

This year, I celebrated Father's Day with the Pacific Ocean between my dad and me.

I watched Hirving Lozano score the only—but winning—goal for Mexico against Germany, followed by my dad yelling in astonishment during our video call.

International sporting events have a way of bringing people together.

Here are some of the biggest superfans in Chicago, as seen on Instagram:

#iran #worldcup#2018 ✌🏻🇮🇷😍

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Te amo Peru. #worldcup2018 📸: @brunopieroni

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Summertime Chi #Hrvatska 🇭🇷🇭🇷🇭🇷

A post shared by Michael Brewster (@brewcrew50) on

#worldcup #korea #frigginearly #chicago #selfie #happy #soccer

A post shared by David Duffie (@chicagoselfieman) on

Serbia! #worldcup #worldcup2018 #fifaworldcup #day4 #serbia #theglobepubchicago

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Drag queens find unlikely spot to perform—on a 50-foot climbing wall

Posted By on 06.11.18 at 06:00 AM

Dressed in a yellow leopard-printed bodysuit and a colorful skirt, Bambi Banks climbed a 50-foot wall while lip-synching to "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus. The crowd below cheered as Banks reached the top, let go, and gracefully rappelled down.

A climbing gym in Chicago might seem like an unlikely place for a drag performance, but in the spirit of Pride month, Brooklyn Boulders Chicago earlier this June hosted its second annual Out to Climb event to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

To many of the drag artists who attended, the evening wasn’t just an opportunity to try a new sport but a chance to reach a wider audience and expand their communal space.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Former Chicago Bulls guard Craig Hodges was dropped in 1992 for suspicious reasons

Posted By on 06.04.18 at 06:00 AM

Members of the 1990-’91 Chicago Bulls celebrate the 20th anniversary of their championship season during halftime of a March 2011 game. Hodges, center, holds the trophy. - AP PHOTO/CHARLES REX ARBOGAST
  • Members of the 1990-’91 Chicago Bulls celebrate the 20th anniversary of their championship season during halftime of a March 2011 game. Hodges, center, holds the trophy.

The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. In Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

The NBA finals have begun, pitting the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors—or, to put it another way, LeBron versus Curry. Sure, the mania is exciting, but nothing will compare to the electricity permeating Chicago when the Bulls began the first of their championship runs in 1991. The team remains a legend: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, and coach Phil Jackson. There was much dunking.

Far beyond the paint stood Craig Hodges, a guard boasting an impressive number of three-pointers; he sunk 19 shots at the league's annual three-point shootout in 1991. Despite his uncanny long range accuracy, Hodges found himself canned by the Bulls in 1992 for unknown reasons.

In a 2016 profile of Hodges, Hodges reveals what may have happened: he was blacklisted for his outspoken political beliefs. Ben Joravsky sets the scene.

Among his teammates, Hodges earned a reputation for having informed opinions on virtually any subject. He frequently disarmed coaches and teammates by initiating conversations about religion and politics—topics rarely tackled in the locker room. In 1991, he was one of the few Bulls players to publicly oppose the gulf war (on that issue, he saw eye to eye with Phil Jackson). And he urged his teammates to invest their millions in businesses that would create jobs in poor black communities.

During the 1991 NBA finals against the Lakers, Hodges approached Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson to suggest a walkout. "I wanted to stand in solidarity with the black community and call out racism and inequity," Hodges told Joravsky. "It would be a united front with the whole world watching."

Jordan and Johnson quickly brushed him off. This did not deter Hodges:

The Bulls went on to win the series and capture their first championship. In October, they were invited to the White House to be congratulated by President George H.W. Bush. Hodges showed up to the ceremony wearing a full-length dashiki and bearing an eight-page letter that he intended to hand to Bush. "The purpose of this note is to speak on behalf of the poor people, Native Americans, homeless and, most specifically, the African Americans, who are not able to come to this great edifice and meet the leader of the nation where they live," his letter began. "This letter is not begging for anything, but 300 years of free slave labor has left the African American community destroyed. It is time for a comprehensive plan for change. Hopefully, this letter will help become a boost in the unification of inner-city youth and these issues will be brought to the forefront of the domestic agenda."

Shortly after the 1992 season wrapped—another trophy for the Bulls—Hodges was unceremoniously let go by general manager Jerry Krause. The timing was suspicious. When the finals had just begun, Hodges spoke with the New York Times and scolded Jordan for not doing more to call out racial injustice. "The poverty in the city is so hellish, just look across the street [from Chicago Stadium]," Hodges told the columnist. "Then you have us playing in here—how much money did we make here last night? How many lives will it change?"

The blackball began, and included a ban from the three-point championship Hodges had dominated three years running:

When the 1992-'93 season began, Hodges was still without a team. In December '92, league officials told him they wouldn't allow him to defend his three-point championship at the All-Star Game in February. "They said they have a policy where you can't participate in an all-star event unless you're on a roster," Hodges says.

But that's not true. In 1989, the NBA allowed Rimas Kurtinaitis, a player for the Soviet national team, to participate in the three-point contest—and he never played in the NBA. Sam Smith wrote a column in the Tribune about the matter, blasting league officials for their hypocrisy. "The NBA sends out a lot of messages: Stay in School. Don't Use Drugs," Smith wrote. "Perhaps it's time for one that goes something like this: 'Keep your mouth shut and behave like people feel you should unless you can make them a lot of money or are too famous for them to silence.' "

After Smith's column was published, the NBA reversed its position and invited Hodges to participate. He finished third.

The writing on the wall flashed neon; Hodges became suspicious that there was far more to his unemployment than diminishing skill:

The list of his infractions is long. It wasn't just the dashiki at the White House or the letter to Bush or his admiration for Farrakhan or his criticism of Jordan or his position on the players' pension—it was all of those things together that made Hodges untouchable. "The biggest way to blacklist someone is to make him invisible," Hodges says. "Why do you think they didn't want to invite me to that three-point contest? Think about it. How would it look if I won? Someone might ask, 'Why's this guy, who's good enough to win the three-point championship, not good enough to play in the league?' So they pretend like I don't exist."

All's well that ends well. Today Hodges coaches basketball at Rich East High School in Park Forest, and reflects on his time in the NBA with zero regrets.

There's a difference between me as a competitor on the court and me as an educated black man speaking my mind. I won't take one if it means giving up the other."

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

A chat with Bill Veeck, the most fun White Sox owner of all time

Posted By on 05.03.18 at 06:00 AM

Bill Veeck at Comiskey Park, 1980 - CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • Bill Veeck at Comiskey Park, 1980

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

The Sox are off to a miserable start this year—after last night's loss to the Cardinals, they're 8-20—but really, what do you expect when your ballpark is identified with a giant downward-facing arrow? Let's look back on happier times, to the reign of Bill Veeck, the man who had a much better eye for decoration than the current owners and who is responsible for the exploding scoreboard. He installed that in 1960 during his first stint as the Sox' owner. He sold the team the following year due to poor health, but he bought it back in 1976 in order to save the Sox from leaving Chicago for Seattle. (Yes, that was really a thing.)

That spring, he sat down for an interview with the Reader's Dan Vukelich. Vukelich interspersed Veeck's present-day reflections with news items from his colorful past, mostly complaints from sportwriters and other owners that he was too colorful. ("UPI Item—March 17, 1953: 'We stood by while he introduced fireworks and midgets. He often has shown little regard for normal baseball protocol … This is where we must put our foot down. We've had enough of him … '—the other baseball owners.")

Vukelich wrote in his introduction.
Had he been born into another place or time, Bill Veeck might have been the beckoning captain of an adventuring ship. Or he might have joined the circus, or managed trade exhibitions, or even become a promoter of rock concerts (indeed, if he had had anything to do with Woodstock at least there would have been good toilets). It was merely a matter of fortune for Bill Veeck that he was born into baseball at a time when it was the undisputed king of national diversions.
Veeck, he noted, was, in addition to his ridiculous stunts like sending the midget Eddie Gaedel (who had a correspondingly short strike zone) up to bat and offering free admission to White Sox fans with the last name of Smith as long as they cheered for outfielder Al Smith, responsible for a lot of practical innovations that still exist in major-league ballparks. When he owned the Cleveland Indians, he integrated the American League just a few weeks after Jackie Robinson started playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He introduced promo giveaways like bats and caps, and deserves credit for opening up a nursery for small children so their parents could enjoy the game, and for putting players' names on the backs of their uniforms. He designed the Wrigley Field scoreboard and planted the ivy along the outfield wall.

He told Vukelich:

I think everyone is a potential White Sox fan, not just the south-siders, but the north-siders too. If we can put on an interesting show, and make it exciting and fun, I certainly anticipate getting casual Cubs fans here like we did before. So I see no reason to think that we won't do it again.

"And I don't think our fans fight and drink any more than fans anywhere else. I think that the security, perhaps, needs careful study. But you know, people behave much as the host does. If you go to somebody's house and they're throwing cigarette butts on the floor and so on, you'll start doing the same thing. In other words, you'll behave in accordance with the surroundings. The better the surroundings, the better the behavior. If people don't care enough to keep their own place up, why should someone else?
This was the man who, three years later, would introduce the infamous Disco Demolition Night. So people don't always behave as well as you might want them to. But he also persuaded Harry Caray—who was then the voice of the Sox—to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. Most of all, he got butts into seats at Comiskey Park because he understood that baseball was supposed to be fun. As he told Vukelich:
I believe that baseball should have an element of fun in it. I don't think of baseball as being the World Series. I think it's a game. Not that there's any connotation of not wanting to win—everybody wants to win—because if you didn't there wouldn't be any reason to keep score. But you can't always guarantee that the game is going to be exciting. You can, however, guarantee that you'll create a festive atmosphere. That's the reason for things like the fireworks. Often that's the only explosion that occurs.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Dog Day brings the best (in show) to Guaranteed Rate Field [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 04.23.18 at 02:29 PM

Dogs and their friends can catch the White Sox play the Mariners tonight.

Known as Dog Day, the game sets aside a few sections at Guaranteed Rate Field for canines, so the Fido-to-human ratio will please you dog lovers. Between innings, you can grab a beer, a hot dog (the sausage), a Cuban burger, or churro ice cream sandwich with your dog, as long as it's on a leash.

The best part about bringing your pooch is that in the event the self-proclaimed sports expert sitting next to you tries to explain the game to you (poorly), you can ask him to repeat everything to your dog. In any case, dogs and their owners can also bone up for the next Dog Day on Monday, September 23, versus the Cleveland Indians.

For more details, visit But first, check out our #SoxDog photo gallery below:

#SoxDogs absolutely living their best lives.

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My big dawgs at the ballpark. #slobbersquad #soxdogs

A post shared by Alexa Vaicaitis (@avaicaitis) on

Bark at the Park! 🐶🐾 ⚾🌭️#SoxDogs #soxvsindians #gosox @guinnessworldrecords

A post shared by Miley (@mileythegoldenretriever) on

A post shared by GERALD (GO BLUE)! (@gblanc3) on

SouthPaw and Scooter. #newbestfriends #soxdogs #soxgameday #southpaw #whitesox

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

It's MLB opening day, so enjoy some Reader baseball coverage

Posted By on 03.29.18 at 06:00 AM

House of David baseball team members aboard a miniature train - COURTESY DAN GEIB
  • courtesy Dan Geib
  • House of David baseball team members aboard a miniature train

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Happy opening day, everybody! The 2018 Major League Baseball season officially begins at 11:30 this morning when the Cubs face off against the Marlins in Miami; you'll be able to catch it on ESPN. The Sox season begins at 3:15 in Kansas City and also on NBC Sports Channel. And here's a gentle reminder that BatCrack Radio Delay syncs TV and radio so you can listen to Pat and Ron or avoid the Hawk.

Reader writers have written quite a bit about the Cubs and Sox over the years. But they've also written plenty about baseball fans. Here's Alan Boomer's delightfully geeky look back on some of the greatest World Series of all time, written in 1991, when it seemed improbable that the Cubs or Sox would ever play in a Series again. (Spoiler: Boomer's pick for best Series ever was 1912.) And here's Ted Cox's review of The Baseball Encyclopedia and The Bill James Historical Abstract, in which he argues that the true poetry of baseball lies in the numbers. (He may have a point. Most baseball poetry sucks.)

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Monday, March 12, 2018

A black woman climbed Mount Everest and nobody noticed

Posted By on 03.12.18 at 09:00 AM

Mount Everest - NEWS COPY
  • NEWS copy
  • Mount Everest

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Sophia Danenberg reached the top of Mount Everest on May 19, 2006, at 7 AM. She was the first African-American—and the first black woman— to make the summit. And she'd grown up in Homewood, though as an adult she lived in Connecticut. But it was a stealth operation—or as much of a stealth operation as climbing the world's tallest mountain can get. She didn't bother to alert the press, and neither did her sister, her husband, or a work colleague, the only three people she kept in contact with during her trek.

Jeffrey Felshman finally wrote a short profile of Danenberg in July. She'd begun mountaineering in 1999, she told him, and had met her husband, David, while climbing a cliff. She hadn't intended to become the first black woman to scale Everest. She was just looking for a challenge.
Danenberg, whose father is black and mother Japanese, says most people are surprised to hear she was the first African-American to scale Everest, but not other climbers. "There aren't a lot of African-Americans—or black people from anywhere, American or otherwise—in high-altitude mountaineering," she says. She's never met another black person on any big mountain in the world, and when the subject comes up with other climbers, most of them white males, they usually haven't either. 
The Sherpas, however, didn't pay much attention to her race. "Danenberg remembers one saying, 'Hey, this woman is really strong.' They also said she looked a little like them, because at five-foot-two she's short and she has dark skin. One Sherpa told her, 'You look Nepalese, only with better hair.'"

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Joravsky's classic ‘A Simple Game’ is the greatest story you will ever read about high school basketball

Posted By on 03.01.18 at 09:00 AM

The Rough Riders play Amundsen, February 11, 1992. Terrell Redmond is number 23. - CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • The Rough Riders play Amundsen, February 11, 1992. Terrell Redmond is number 23.

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

It's finally March. Which means it's time to get serious about basketball. Not the Bulls—that's just too sad. And the NCAA tournament doesn't start for two more weeks. But the Illinois high school basketball finals are already underway. The girls' class 1 and 2 championship games were last weekend (go Danville and Marshall!), but we still have classes 3 and 4 to go, plus all the boys' games.

To get yourself in the spirit, settle in with "A Simple Game," Ben Joravsky's account of the 1991-'92 season, which he spent with the Roosevelt High School Rough Riders. I can't claim to have made an exhaustive search, but I'd find it hard to believe anybody ever wrote a finer piece about high school basketball.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Early Man is an unexpected dud from the creators of Wallace and Gromit

Posted By on 02.21.18 at 07:04 AM

Early Man
  • Early Man
This year has already seen the release of three superior films for children—The Breadwinner, Paddington 2, and Mary and the Witch’s Flower. These movies teem with visual and narrative imagination, alerting young viewers to the medium’s rich potential. They also refuse to condescend to their viewers: the films are free of the sort of infantile humor and emotional underscoring one finds in less-inspired children’s fare; moreover, they achieve a complexity of detail that requires a certain amount of visual literacy. These are movies that adults can enjoy alongside children—the pleasures they offer are ultimately ageless.

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