Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Greatest Cubs Team Ever-- Part 4: Catcher

From the August 21, 2016, Chicago Tribune.

The winner of the Cubs best-ever right fielder was Andre Dawson.

Nominated for Catcher:

MICHAEL BARRETT--  Played three full seasons with Cubs and hit 16 home runs in each and 25+ doubles.

JODY DAVIS--  Eight seasons with Cubs.  Reached double digits in home runs six times.  In 1984, drove in a career-high 94 runs.

GABBY HARTNETT--  Played 19 years for Cubs.  Appeared in four World Series.  Batted .297 with 236 home runs and 122 RBIs.  "Hall of Famer" and six-time All Star and NL MVP in 1935.  His "Homer in the Gloamin'" won a key game against the Pirates in 1938.

RANDY HUNDLEY--  Primarily-known for his defense.  One of the poor 1969 Cubs.

GEOVANY SOTO--  NL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 2008.  Batted .285 that season with 23 homers and 86 RBIs.

My pick, easily, Gabby Hartnett.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Greatest Cubs Baseball Team Ever-- Part 3: Right Field

The winner of best Cubs center fielder ever was Hack Wilson.

Nominated for best Cubs right fielder ever:

KIKI CUYLER---  Hall of Famer played eight seasons with Cubs, batted .325 with 79 honers and 602 RBIs.

ANDRE DAWSON--  Signed with Cubs as a free agent in 1987 and had best year of his career, leading majors in home runs with 49 and RBIs with 137 and named NL MVP  Played six seasons and hit 20 or more homers each year.

KEITH MORELAND--  Six seasons with the Cubs.  "Zonk" reached double digits in home runs in all, including a career-high 27 in 1987.  drove in 80 or more runs three times.

BILL NICHOLSON--  Four-time NL All-Star, hit 20 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons 1940-1944.  Led majors in RBIs twice.  Played ten seasons.

SAMMY SOSA--  Cubs franchise leader with 545 home runs and third all-time in RBIs and extra-base hits.  Three seasons with 60 or more home runs.  Seven time All-Star and drove in 100+ runs in nine straight seasons.  You'd think with these stats, he'd be a shoo-in.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Greatest Cubs Baseball Team Ever-- Part 2: Center Field

These Cubs players were nominated for voting by the Chicago Tribune for center field:

Bobby Dernier--  Leadoff man for 1984 Cubs National League East champs.

Rick Monday-- 5 seasons  Hit 20 or more homers three times.

Andy Pafko--  Batted .294 in nine season with the Cubs.

Corey Patterson--  Had a big year with the Cubs in 2004 with 24 homers, 33 doubles, 72 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.

Hack Wilson--  Led NL four times in his six seasons with the Cubs.  drove in 100 or more RBIs five times.

I'd vote for Hack Wilson in this one.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Greatest Cubs Baseball Team of All Time-- Part 1: From Banks to Sandberg to Grace

From the August 7, 2016, Chicago Tribune.

The voting has been going on for awhile.  Every Sunday the Tribune offers five Cubs players per position and during the next week readers vote on their favorite at  They also have the White Sox players by position, but I will do that  later.

So far these Cubs have been voted onto the team:

First Base--  Mark Grace

2nd Base--  Ryne Sandberg

Shortstop--  Ernie Banks

3rd Base--  Ron Santo

Left Field--  Billy Williams

This date, fans were voting for best center fielder.

These players were listed:

Bobby Dernier
Rick Monday
Andy Pafko
Corey Patterson
Hack Wilson

I would vote for Hack Wilson.

The Hacker.  --DaHack

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 14: Boating and Bars

Growth continued with the return of servicemen from World War II looking for affordable housing.  the area became middle class communities with residents often commuting to jobs in Chicago and other suburbs for work.

The major tourism era was over, but a whole lot of people still came to the Chain area on the weekends to enjoy its recreation, especially boating.  Fox Lake at one time was known to have the most bars per capita of any place in the United States.  there are far fewer of them today.

A Great Place to Enjoy Life,  --CootBoat

Thursday, August 18, 2016

UGA Tweets Get Flagged

From the August 3, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Top Of The Second."

Some college football fans are going to have to get more creative with their hashtags for the next several weeks.  Thanks to the Olympics, #UGA no longer means University of Georgia (or its bulldog mascot , Uga X) and #PUR no longer means Purdue.

Yep, #UGA is what you'll use to talk about Uganda and #PUR stands for Puerto Rico during the Olympics.

Also #ECU (East Carolina University) means Ecuador.  Husker fans will have to type out "Go Big Red" because of Great Britain.

Twitter used flag emoji during the 2014 World Cup, but only East Carolina fans felt hash-jacked then.

The Olympics end August 21st and college football kicks off August 26th.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 13: The Railroad Brings Growth to Area

Growth of resorts along the Chain of Lakes increased dramatically with the arrival of the Milwaukee Road railroad to the area in 1901.  The railroad crossed the lakes between Pistakee Lake and Nippersink Lake where Route 12 now crosses.  (The train tracks are still there and handle an occasional train.)

Vacationers would take the train from Chicago and get off at a station by Nippersink Lake and then go by foot or by boats to various resorts.

Small cottages and resorts grew on the shores of the lakes as the area became a prominent tourist destination.  The Great Depression, however, was a major hit to the area and tourism decreased tremendously.  Resorts closed.  Some of these resorts were then turned into year-round homes.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 12: Own a Piece of Chicago Gangland History

Of course, with the Chain of Lakes' proximity to Chicago, there are many tales of Chicago mobsters muscling in on the many resorts as well as vacationing in the area.  One of those mobsters was Al Capone.

I recently saw a for sale sign at the building, now a home, but back in the 1930s it was the Manning Hotel.

It is located at 16 North Pistakee Road (right next to Hamsher Funeral Home) on Pistakee Lake and listed for $500,000.  Back in the 1930s, three mobsters were killed and wounded in an attack by a rival gang on the hotel bar/ restaurant..

Supposedly, bullet holes are still in the walls.

Own a Piece of History.  --DaCootGangsta

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 11: The Different Lakes and World Famous Lotus Beds

The lakes offer a variety of different activities as each is different.  The two largest Lakes are Fox Lake and Pistakee Lake at about 1.700 acres each.  They provide space for open boating and fishing.

Originally Pistakee was a shallow lake full of marshes and waterfowl, a great place for hunting.  The creation of the dam at McHenry, Illinois,, increased the depth of the lake and made it navigable.  Fox and Pistakee lakes were well-known for boating even back to the early 1900s.  They were especially known for sailboat races and Pistakee still has a Pistakee Yacht Club, featuring sailboats.

Grass Lake (Grasslake) is the third largest lake and estimated to cover 1360 acres, but is considered the shallowest of the Chain of Lakes with an average depth of 3 feet.  It was best-known to visitors in the early 1900s because of its world-famous Lotus Beds.  Rising lake levels due to the dam fairly well caused their decline, but in the last few years they are making a comeback.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 10: Expulsion of Indians and Coming of the Railroad Had Huge Impact

The area in northeastern Illinois now referred to as the Chain of Lakes was once home to a semi-nomadic Indian tribe.  French trappers and traders, including fur trapper Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette were said to have explored the area in the mid-17th century although no last settlements were founded.  Just passing through.

The area, which is roughly equidistant from Milwaukee and Chicago, did not quickly become settled by Europeans and colonists due to difficulty traveling to the area.  However, the expulsion of the Indians and coming of the railroads opened the area tremendously.

The railroads not only helped get products to market, but also brought vacationers from Chicago out for the recreation offered.

The Chain Became a Big Tourist Area.  --Cooter

Friday, August 12, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 9: Boating on the Chain

Navigation on the Chain of Lakes from Lake Catherine all the way down to Pistakee Lake (as well as the Fox River from Pistakee Lake to Algonquin), is a favorite summertime activity for thousands.  And, there are sure a lot of boats out on the water on the weekends.  We rarely go out on the weekends, preferring the much smaller crowd during the week.  But we have always been lucky as we were teachers so had summers off.

It was actually a part-time job that I had that got us into boating.  I did not grow up with boats as have many of the kids on the Chain.  I always thought owning a boat was a huge waste of money.  (Well, it sure isn't cheap!)

However, back in 1982, I started a deejay business and played many gigs at Neptune's Cove on Fox Lake and Eagle Point Park (the Puppet Bar, so named for the many puppets that sprang into movement when one particular polka was played) on Pistakee Lake.

Those boaters were having so much fun, I finally decided to get a boat and have had one ever since 1985.  We are now on our third boat, but I imagine this one will be my last one.


Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 8: The Lakes

Of the 15 lakes, 10 are connected by the Fox River:  Lake Catherine, Nippersink Lake, Lake Marie, Grasslake, Bluff Lake, Fox Lake, Pistakee Lake, Channel Lake, Petite Lake and Redhead Lake.  (Some people also say Spring Lake between Lake Marie and Petite Lake is also a lake, but it is more of a wide spot in the channel.

The other five lakes are Duck Lake, Long Lake, Spring Lake (this might be the one I mentioned in the earlier paragraph), Dunn's Lake and Brandenburg Lake.

These last five are connected not by the Fox River but by small channels.

This weekend, we plan to be at Cabana's on the Chain on Pistakee Lake, and Rally by the Lake on Nippersink Lake (old cars) and the Keeping the Spirit of 45 Alive at Veterans Park in McHenry (one block from the Fox River).

So, you can see, we are very much involved in the Chain of Lakes.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 7: Result of the Melting of the Wisconsin Glacier

The Chain of Lakes is the result of the melting of the Wisconsin Glacier, which left a unique landscape in northern Illinois.  The Fox River winds its way southward from Wisconsin, through Antioch, Illinois, and then it connects a series of lakes, 15 in all.  (The river eventually runs into the Illinois River and on to the Mississippi.)

These lakes, collectively known as the Chain of Lakes, or Chain O' Lakes, cover more than 7,000 acres of water and includes 500 miles of total shoreline (50 miles of river shoreline from where it enters Illinois down to Algonquin where a dam with no locks impedes boat traffic beyond it.  There is a dam south of McHenry, Illinois, which has locks.

The Chain of Lakes Waterway Agency oversees its use and maintenance.  This is a big job as the area has more boat usage per acre than any other inland waterway system in the United States.  I have even heard that it is the second busiest only to the Intercoastal Waterway.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 6: Aye, It's the Boating Life for Me


We boated over to Stormy Monday on Fox lake and were happy to find that they had a happy hour from 5-7 with $1.50 domestic bottles, $2.50 imports and $1 Miller High Lifes.  This place used to be a huge hangout for us back when it was Costello's Pub & Grub for many years, but not so often anymore.

We got our Chain Crawl passport stamped here.

We then drove the car over to Half-Times in Johnsburg, close to the Fox River for half price appetizers and $1 20 ounce draft and then to Sunnyside.


I went boating around Fox Lake and Mineola Bay and then drove to Woodstock, Illinois, (not on the Chain but not too far away from it) to see a movie, enjoy the historic 1850s square (where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed.  met some friends at Papa G's on the  for dinner and then went to the McHenry County Civil War Round Table.

Like I said, Plenty to Do Here.  --CootChain

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 5: More Bands

Saturday, August 6th, continued.

We then drove over to the Fox Lake American Legion where they had a band playing from 3-6 p.m. and saw the Brother K. Blues Band.  The American Legion is on Nippersink Lake.

Last stop was Sunnyside and their happy hour and then home to Margaritaville.


Enjoyed Bob Stroud doung his Root Salute to Summer of 1976, where he played songs from this date forty years ago.

We then went to Sunnyside for the card draw and then to Captain's Quarters, on Fox Lake, and sat outside while enjoying the band called Mixx.  They had a male and female lead singer and played a long medley while we were there.  Like their name implies, they mix up the genres of music.

We then stopped at Lake View on Grasslake and enjoyed the view before returning to Sunnyside for Happy Hour.


Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 4: Cruisin', Eating and Drinking on the Chain

For example, the last few days, we went out boating three of four days.

Friday, we boated over to Captain's Quarters on Fox Lake for their ribs special.  You get a full slab of ribs and wings for $9.999.  A REAL good deal.  We then put the boat up and drove to the Fox Lake American Legion and joined the Usual Suspects for the 50-50 drawing.

Saturday, we took a boat cruise over to the McDonald's on Pistakee Lake for breakfast and then did a sow cruise around Pistakee Lake, Nippersink Lake and Fox Lake.

We put the boat up (it tends to get quite hectic on the weekends as there are a real lot of boaters) and drove over to Oak Park Lounge on Pistakee Bay where owned Tom was celebrating his 40th anniversary of owning the place (which dates to 1895).  He had three bands and a deejay scheduled as well as 40 cent Hamms beer drafts.

We congratulated him and stuck around for the first band.

Chaining It Again.  --CootChain

Monday, August 8, 2016

Illinois' Chain of Lakes-- Part 3: An Example of Enjoying It

People often ask me why we don't usually go away for vacation during the summer.  My answer is, "Why?"  We have a great vacation spot right here.  First there is all that boating, then, there are the bars, many of which have entertainment during the week and weekends all summer long.

Plus, most every town in the area has at least one festival if not more.

Woodstock has weekly Wednesday night music outside in the gazebo as does Lake Villa and Lindenhurst.  Crystal Lake has weekly bands on Tuesdays and Antioch and McHenry on Thursdays.  Every town has 4th of July parties and Antioch runs a four-day Taste of Summer and McHenry a ten-day Fiesta Days.

There are few things finer than going out to eat, having some cocktails and sitting outside and listening to a goof band during the summer.