Everyone knows their favorite baseball announcer as a kid. Mine was Jack Brickhouse, the TV announcer for the Chicago Cubs.
The memories run deep. I can remember coming home from school and turning on the Cubs game which was in the late innings, and listening to Jack Brickhouse describe Ernie Banks‘ at bat against a Juan Marichal or Jim Maloney.
And, sometimes, Banks, with his sweet swing would park one in the in the left field stands.
Brickhouse, a Peoria, Illinois-native born in 1916 and passed away in 1998, was like “Uncle Jack” — he was an invited guest into my den, where the color TV was situated. I’d be lying on the floor a few feet away, so not to miss anything. I am sure my Mother told me to not be so close to the TV more than once.
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But I wanted to see the faces of the players and their movements. Jack described at all in an affable, down-home, mid-western style that made you feel at ease and wanting to hear more.
He was the Cubs announcer for forty years until 1981. At one time he was both the Cubs and the Chicago White Sox announcer for twenty years. He also was known as the radio voice of the Chicago Bears with the late Irv Kupcinet.
He was a fixture in the Chicago sports scene for years. In the 50’s and 60’s, Brickhouse was my conduit to the Cubs. He was the hometown announcer but a fair-minded one. If another player on a team made a great play, he pointed it out.
In 1954, he was the announcer who called Willie Mays‘s catch in Game One of the World Series at the Polo Grounds. Mays made a great over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field off of Cleveland’s Vic Wertz that is probably the best catch in World Series history.
I remember his call of “Hey-Hey, atta boy Ernie” when Banks clobbered one. I think that was the call when Banks hit #500.
He did the 10th inning show, a post-game show after the game, and if the Cubs had won, he says, and “here’s the happy recap.”
Jack Brickhouse received the Ford C. Frick award and was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. There are many great broadcasters there, but he belongs to them. One day I was walking on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago when I noticed a bust of Brickhouse near the WGN radio studios. I stopped and took a picture. I thought, “Hello, Jack Brickhouse, good to see you.”