Jack Brickhouse Sought Cub Rich Nye’s Wit

Posted February 7th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Chicago Cubs, Jack Brickhouse, Leo Durocher, Rich Nye
This 1989 Pacific set
gave Brickhouse his due!

The best baseball letters I receive redefine eras. The most memorable missives are more than punchlines, answering trivia questions such as “Toughest hitter? Hank Aaron.”

Pitcher Rich Nye, flashing superb storytelling skills, shared one much-needed reminder for me.
Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse was a real journalist.

By the 1970s, when I was watching the Cubs via WGN-TV syndicated broadcasts, Brickhouse seemed quite low-key for me. Later, compared to Harry Caray, my memory of Brickhouse turned into a cold bowl of oatmeal. The difference? Brickhouse loved the Cubs, too. However, he kept on being a reporter (instead of pure cheerleader).

Brickhouse started on radio in 1934. He started at WGN in 1940. Brickhouse did EVERYTHING — not just baseball. He is a Radio Hall of Famer. Likewise, he appreciated that Nye brought an unusual perspective to the game.

Nye wrote:

“In 1967, the Cubs had the typical mix of old and young. Along with myself there was Ken Holtzman, Joe Niekro, Bill Stoneman, Gary Ross, Alec Distaso, Frank Reberger and maybe a couple of others who were vying for a place on the team. We were led by crusty old Leo Durocher, who had little regard for a college-educated player.

We were, however, well accepted by the media and especially Jack Brickhouse took a shine to me and had me on his show several times. He wanted to talk about my days at Cal in the 1960s when the student body was in an uproar. He knew he would get an articulate interview.”

I learned about DOCTOR Nye’s second career in this fascinating 2008 Sun-Times blog post.

Tomorrow: Nye recalls batterymate Randy Hundley and the feeling of winning on national television.  

Eddie Baskinski, Brooklyn Dodger & Portland Beaver, Earned TWO Nicknames (One From Leo ‘The Lip’ Durocher That’s G-Rated!)

Posted January 25th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, Eddie Basinski, Leo Durocher, Pittsburgh Pirates, Portland Beavers
“Eddie Three-Names”?

In 2007, I began puzzling over player nicknames. They aren’t on a guy’s birth certificate. Someone has to create them.

Furthermore, who uses nicknames? Just imagine…

“Hi, honey. I’m home.”

“Mister October, please take the garbage out NOW! Not in October!!!”

I was delighted to learn about Eddie Basinski, whose 1940s stops included the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He owned two monikers, “Bazooka” and “Fiddler.” In 2007, with ornate penmanship, his reply shared the history of both names.

“Leo Durocher, my Dodgers mgr., gave me the nickname ‘Bazooka.’ Because of my accurate, strong throwing arm, with the quickest release he ever saw; he compared all that with the U.S. Army weapon ‘the Bazooka.’ It was my first nickname.


‘Fiddler’ came about as I studied classical violin for 16 years, gave concerts, appeared on radio, TV and gave a rendition between doubleheaders while with Portland, in my baseball uniform at home plate before one of the largest at the ballpark.


The press used both nicknames constantly. Opponents used these names, but not favorably. when I failed to get a hit, fans from opposing teams would yell, ‘Why don’t you use your violin?'”

Basinski played 11 seasons with Portland. He was a Pacific Coast League fixture. Check out this Oregonian remembrance of the Beavers, including the nifty photo of a uniform-clad “Fiddler” entertaining teammates.

Tomorrow: Detroit Tigers catcher Lance Parrish explains the origin of his nickname.

Eddie Baskinski, Brooklyn Dodger & Portland Beaver, Earned TWO Nicknames (One From Leo ‘The Lip’ Durocher That’s G-Rated!)

Posted January 25th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, Eddie Basinski, Leo Durocher, Pittsburgh Pirates, Portland Beavers
“Eddie Three-Names”?

In 2007, I began puzzling over player nicknames. They aren’t on a guy’s birth certificate. Someone has to create them.

Furthermore, who uses nicknames? Just imagine…

“Hi, honey. I’m home.”

“Mister October, please take the garbage out NOW! Not in October!!!”

I was delighted to learn about Eddie Basinski, whose 1940s stops included the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He owned two monikers, “Bazooka” and “Fiddler.” In 2007, with ornate penmanship, his reply shared the history of both names.

“Leo Durocher, my Dodgers mgr., gave me the nickname ‘Bazooka.’ Because of my accurate, strong throwing arm, with the quickest release he ever saw; he compared all that with the U.S. Army weapon ‘the Bazooka.’ It was my first nickname.


‘Fiddler’ came about as I studied classical violin for 16 years, gave concerts, appeared on radio, TV and gave a rendition between doubleheaders while with Portland, in my baseball uniform at home plate before one of the largest at the ballpark.


The press used both nicknames constantly. Opponents used these names, but not favorably. when I failed to get a hit, fans from opposing teams would yell, ‘Why don’t you use your violin?'”

Basinski played 11 seasons with Portland. He was a Pacific Coast League fixture. Check out this Oregonian remembrance of the Beavers, including the nifty photo of a uniform-clad “Fiddler” entertaining teammates.

Tomorrow: Detroit Tigers catcher Lance Parrish explains the origin of his nickname.