From the North Side to the Deep South
This article was published in the 2015 The National Pastime.
Sandburg’s “City of Big Shoulders” (that’s Carl, not Ryne!)
Was once quite important in a small world of mine;
For Fate placed me, in the Fifties, far from a city
Forcing this baseball lover to fight off self-pity.
Following 16 teams was a task by itself,
Yearbooks were plentiful on my bookshelf;
I memorized the stats of guys like Joey Jay,
And gave thanks for Mutual’s Game-of-the-Day!
Though I felt isolated down South from baseball’s great feats,
The radio in our house provided my necessary treats
In the form of broadcasts, day after day,
Each of a big-league matinee.
Wrigley Field, decades before the advent of cable,
Became the Mutual Network’s most common staple;
In the only ballpark with pure, natural light
Day games were plentiful, none played at night.
The Cubs were heard more often on my precious Philco
Than teams that won more in Frick’s acclaimed show;
That the Cubs often held the short end of the score
Mattered none to a youngster who loved the sport’s lore.
My mother, though no fan, showed little frustration,
Believing that listening increased one’s imagination;
And because that was true, I did “see” Stan Hack
Remove more than one pitcher, and Ernie Banks take a whack.
With every hit, pitch, catch, or Cubbie miscue,
I was transported off to Waveland Avenue;
Moved by the voices of men like Art Gleeson,
I relished events of each baseball season.
Bob Neal, Rex Barney, Gene Elston, John MacLean
Were key characters during each summer campaign
In a decade when the sun most clearly did shine
On an ivy-covered wall and unique baseball shrine.
The White Sox were consistently Chicago’s best team—
Of pennants their fans could reasonably dream;
Their games were broadcast once in a while
Sending Minnie and Nellie through my radio dial.
Many folks watched those games without giving a thought
To outland regions the big leagues forgot;
But we Southerners hungered for rare baseball meals,
Be it the Game of the Day or Frank Lane’s latest deals.
Mutual and the Cubs played a vital role
In bringing nourishment to my overlooked bowl—
Which, in my youth, was a brown radio
With sounds coming from it that made this fan glow!
FRANCIS KINLAW has contributed to 15 SABR convention publications (the number of double plays grounded into by Ernie Banks during the Cubs’ memorable 1969 season) and attended 19 SABR conventions (Banks’ doubles total that year). A member of SABR since 1983, he resides in Greensboro, North Carolina and writes extensively about baseball, football, and college basketball.