Apologies for the delay this morning! If you had Day 67 of my lockdown as the first time I’d struggle to find something interesting to write about, go to the window and collect your winnings. The good news is that I’ve been working on a few longer things for the future that I think you’ll enjoy.
For now, check out this piece that my friend Julie passed along. Beautifully written by veteran Chicago journalist Dave Hoekstra, it’s about the recent death of Wrigley Field vendor Bill Griffin at age 88.
Even if you don’t know Bill’s name, you probably know his face or his tough facade. He sold everything from beer to programs to foam claws in Chicago’s ballparks for 65 years.
Griffin’s story isn’t an intrinsically happy one. In fact, it’s almost as if he stepped straight out of the pages of an Algren novel in the ‘50s and lasted all the way to the year 2020.
"Griffin says his life since has been a winding road of alcohol, bankruptcy, sorrow and loneliness — but also friendship. He bounced around the country, selling cotton candy and snacks at carnivals and a traveling circus. He drank away his concession wages, and moved in and out of transient hotels and apartments. He mourned the death of his longtime woman friend and remains crushed he doesn't have enough money to buy a marker for her grave."
Not exactly an uplifting story to start our day, but an important one nonetheless.
We like to think of ballparks as these happy refuges full of mustard on hot dogs and smiles for FanFotos. But for a lot of people like Bill, a ballpark is simply a refuge. A place to draw a honest paycheck and get away from life’s many other hurdles. Now that baseball isn’t being played, I worry about the people who have lost that compass and lifeline.
Still, there’s a lot of good to be found in Griffin’s story. One man’s drive to survive. The friends and neighbors who stepped up to fill his pockets when they were empty. The businessman who read about Griffin in the Trib and paid for his friend’s gravemarker.
Hoekstra also notes that Griffin died on the day the organ music returned to Wrigley Field. Many might write that off as a simple coincidence, but I like the poetry in it.
May he rest in peace.
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• Horace Grant talked with Kap and aired some grievances with “snitch” Michael Jordan before inviting him to “settle things.” I probably could have just written about this last night and called it a day, but no one likes to write about family fights. (ESPN)
• A new Wright Thompson article on Michael Jordan. No further message. (ESPN)
• An ex-Pizza Hut employee made the media rounds on Tuesday claiming he was the one who delivered MJ the infamous pizza. Seriously, this guy was everywhere. I didn’t think I was ready to move on from The Last Dance content, but this might’ve been the tipping point. (Salt Lake Tribune)
• Today’s the 26th anniversary (26 years!?!) of Scottie Pippen’s dunk over Patrick Ewing. Here’s a piece I wrote six years ago about LISTENING to that dunk on the radio. (Yahoo Sports)
• Because you can never watch it enough:
• I had no idea a look through Paul Sullivan’s junk drawer would be so entertaining. I think I’d actually pay him money for those Royko socks. (Tribune)
• We lost Macho Man nine years ago today. Here’s Sam Borden on Downers Grove’s favorite son. (ESPN)
• Zach LaVine took Darnell Mayberry through his quarantine workouts. (The Athletic)
• How ESPN1000 chief Mike Thomas is managing the crisis. (Barrett Sports Media)
• Just eerie:
Finally … the Wax Pack giveaway announcement!
And the winners are … Benson Stone, Jonathan Hart and Louie Maxx!
Thank you to everyone who entered!
That’s it for today. Have a fantastic Wednesday and, as always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter!