LUNCH WITH...JACK BRICKHOUSE: Hall of Fame WGN-TV broadcaster, voice of the Chicago Cubs and Sox. Interviewed by Tom Weinberg at the 410 Club in the Wrigley Building. Talks about Minnie Minoso and other characters in sports and broadcasting that he encountered in his career.
0:00Copy video clip URL Tape opens to Jack Brickhouse sitting at a table in the 410 Club He is being interviewed by Thomas Weinberg.
0:48Copy video clip URL Brickhouse expresses his admiration for early camera work in sports: “The type of camera work I admire among others is the…constantly, without ever missing, [those] who can follow that golf shot.” Brickhouse describes how he created All Star Golf with Walter Schwimmer, the first broadcast of golf on television. He goes on to describe the logistics of the first broadcast at Cog Hill, which took seven camera crews and two days.
4:11Copy video clip URL Brickhouse talks about his arrival in Chicago in 1940 at WGN radio. He worked with Elson on baseball, a staff stretch, and also worked as an announcer for dance bands on late-night live radio. They called it the “Milk Route.” Three announcers split the broadcasts into three concurrent sections so that each had time to get to their next venue.
6:00Copy video clip URL TW: “Who’s your first sidekick” JB: “Well, at one stage I was a side kick, as Elson’s assistant…but when I came back [from service in World War II]…WGN had given up baseball. The following year, 1945, I did the White Sox on WJJD, and that was, of course, the year the Cubs won the Penant…”
8:10Copy video clip URL “Later I came back to WGN, and we wanted to do the Cubs or the White Sox, either one, but what had happened was that WGN gave up baseball, because they were one of the stations on the principle network, and in those days the kids’ shows were big…you couldn’t sell this feature to Proctor and Gamble on a market basis unless you could live in a number 2 market…to be a team player WGN gave up baseball…that opened the door for the Cubs to sell baseball on an exclusive basis.”
10:57Copy video clip URL Brickhouse talks about working with Joe Wilson, Harry Creighton, Vince Lloyd, Lloyd Pettit, and Marty Hogan.
13:53Copy video clip URL Brickhouse talks about doing a broadcast from a plane.
15:24Copy video clip URL Cut to shot of bar.
15:34Copy video clip URL Weinberg: “Well, there’s a lot of memories here, a lot of characters. It’s funny you were saying about 1945, the year the Cubs won, was the one you didn’t do the broadcast!…and by the time in ’83 you weren’t doing the play-by-play anymore!”
17:11Copy video clip URL Close-up on Brickhouse’s ring from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He received the Ford C. Frick Award in 1983.
18:23Copy video clip URL They go through the preceding members of the baseball broadcasting hall of fame.
19:00Copy video clip URL Weinberg talks about the dropping public awareness of baseball, in part because of marketing and salaries. Brickhouse: “I have always taken the position that my job is to sell baseball tickets, to sell baseball, to sell beer, automobiles, whatever, and then after all of that–if you move all that merch off the shelves– then if you have any time after that, you can sell yourself.” He maintains that young broadcasters who make the mistake of taking their air-time to market themselves end up cutting their careers short.
21:09Copy video clip URL They talk about Minnie Minoso. Minnie hit a bullpen home run the first time he went to bat in Comiskey Park. Brickhouse: “One time he slid into second base and all of the sudden the whole game is held up for several minutes,…because Minnie was wearing his money belt under his shirt and it broke and he had three thousand dollars in that thing… Minoso said: ‘You play ball in some of the places I play you don’t trust a clubhouse man or anybody else with your money–you carry it with you.'” And, after a Yankees/White Sox fight, Yogi Berra says that, next fight, he’s going after Minoso. Minoso responds by saying: “Minnie got too good a wheels for you, Yogi, you’ll never catch me.”
25:00Copy video clip URL Brickhouse: The first three or four times I interviewed Minnie… I can honestly say I didn’t understand a single full sentence Minnie said.”
26:01Copy video clip URL When he played third base, his coach, Frank Lane, quickly took him off the position, “because I don’t wanna be responsible for three or four thousand dollars worth of dental work the way he fields that position.”
27:30Copy video clip URL Weinberg: “How did you start with ‘Hey, hey!'” Brickhouse: “I remember one time the program director called me in and I want you to listen to the tape of your work at the stadium last night… I listened for about five minutes…I fell in love with the word ‘whistling.'” Brickhouse talks about his habit of falling in love with one word or expression without realizing it. At one point, he had been saying “hey” too frequently, and his crew superimposed the words “Hey hey” on his monitor, so that he would realize he was using it too much. He decided to keep it as a “identifying remark” or catch phrase.
31:02Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Brickhouse about some of the characters that he loves being with. Brickhouse cannot give a concise answer, since he’s been broadcasting in six different decades.
32:34Copy video clip URL Brickhouse discusses his transition into television broadcast. He was initially hesitant about the move: “I am a legitimate broadcaster, this is a sham, this could hurt me…!” They go on to talk about wrestling. Brickhouse: “Show me one other form of entertainment that always gives you a dollar’s worth of entertainment for every dollar you spend.”
37:18Copy video clip URL Brickhouse gives an anecdote about wrestlers enjoying other wrestlers taking each other to pieces.
40:53Copy video clip URL Brickhouse describes the predictability of football these days. Weinberg agrees, saying that there is little finesse involved in football. Brickhouse rejoins with a comment about the acrobatic nature of football. Brickhouse also says that football is the hardest sport to do, baseball is the most difficult sport to concentrate in, and basketball is the simplest. They discuss the sports from a broadcast perspective. Football is a particularly difficult sport to call, because the players are actively trying to deceive each other, they are located far from the broadcast booth, and sometimes there is inclement weather blocking the broadcaster’s vision.
46:10Copy video clip URL Brickhouse pretends to call a huddle.
47:40Copy video clip URL Weinberg ruminates about the fact that Brickhouse has mediated thousands of sports memories for countless people. Weinberg: “Part of it is an accident…it’s an accident of continuity and ‘being there,’ being there at the right place and the right time… a sort of fate.” Brickhouse: “I couldn’t agree with you more.”
49:10Copy video clip URL Brickhouse “…When I left the booth, I figured that, y’know, even a few years later some of the old timers and veteran viewers and listeners might remember me, but the thing that surprises me today, and I’ve been out of that booth now for all practicla purposes for some 12 years, guys in their twenties, and some even younger than that, still remember me. All of which really surprises me–I never thought the kids that age would hang in there with me. What it means I guess, is that when you’re 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old you remember things that happened then so well…I think that’s even true in your case.”
50:42Copy video clip URL Brickhouse says that his earliest memories of a performer is Bob Elson. “As I look back on voices and performances…to me, if there was such a thing as a perfect announcer, it was Ted Husing.” He goes on to suggest that Husing’s description of the end of the Notre Dame vs. Ohio State football game in 1935 should be required listening for everyone interested in broadcasting.
54:15Copy video clip URL : Two people approach the table to introduce themselves to Brickhouse.
55:57Copy video clip URL Brickhouse gives a prediction about the Cubs season: “At this point, I’m very pleased with what the Cubs have done…I’ve finally seen a Cubs team with a good bench…” He goes on to compare the other teams in the field, including the White Sox.
57:43Copy video clip URL Brickhouse gives funny anecdotes about the last time the Cubs won a World Series: there were 46 states and Reagan hadn’t been born.
59:15Copy video clip URL Brickhouse says that local fans want the broadcaster to root for the home team. Brickhouse believes it’s possible to root for the home team while maintaining journalistic integrity. The trick: “Give all the credit they have coming to the opposition…if you beat a great performance it makes your victory all the sweeter…and it’s no dishonor to lose to a great performance.”
1:01:15Copy video clip URL Brickhouse says that “telling it like it is” only means reporting what has happened in a game and not positioning yourself as an expert.
1:02:44Copy video clip URL End of tape.