Five Minutes with Rick Kaempfer
In 2008, I contributed to the book “Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Until Next Year”. The editor of that book (Don Evans) interviewed me for the publisher’s website, Can’t Miss Press. The following is a partial transcript of that interview…
MY BRUSH WITH THE CUBS:
I met Jose Cardenal at a Mt. Prospect Jewel in the produce section a few winters ago. I had my two oldest boys with me, and I kept circling the bananas and oranges bin to get a closer look. Jose was trying to pick out the best red onion in the nearby onion bin, examining them all closely. My kids thought I had gone completely out of mind. I finally conjured up the courage to say “Are you Jose Cardenal? Good ol’ #1?” He smiled and shook my hand. You have to understand that I worked as a radio producer for 20 years and met just about every celebrity and it had never affected me before—but I was positively giddy about meeting Jose. I asked him what he was doing there and he said that he never moved out of town. He spends his off seasons in Prospect Heights. I remember thinking, “Prospect Heights should put that in their brochures. A guy from Cuba thinks this place is so cool he spends his winters here.”
WHO WERE YOU?:
In my mind I was always Ernie Banks. In Little League, I was more like the Mick Kelleher of my team.
Publisher of Eckhartz Press, Editor-in-chief of Justonebadcentury.com, media columnist for the Illinois Entertainer, and most importantly, work-at-home dad.
RADIO PERSONALITY I’D HIRE TO MANAGE THE CUBS:
Dick Biondi. He has more energy in his 80-something body than the entire Cubs team combined. Plus, he’s been fired something like 20 times in his radio career. He could take it when that inevitable day came.
THE CUB I’D MOST WANT TO LIVE INDEFINITELY IN MY BASEMENT:
Carmen Fanzone. He could play his trumpet for us at dinner time.
MOST CHERISHED CUBS MEMORY:
That’s probably a three-way tie. I was at the Sandberg game with my little brother. We had standing room tickets and moved around the whole ballpark looking for somewhere to sit. I was also there for Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game. My boss at the radio station had just told us they were going to revamp our show (The John Landecker Show), and rather than get all depressed, I took my colleagues to the game and we saw the best pitched game in history. That really took the sting out of it. And then last year I took my youngest boy Sean to a game. He’s six, and he was totally into it, as much as I was at his age (1969). I could just see the torch being passed before my eyes. Sorry, Sean.
BEST PIECE OF CUBS MEMORABILIA:
I have the baseball card of every starter from the 1908 Cubs, including the starting rotation. I told my wife I was buying them to sell on my Web site, but I secretly hope no-one ever buys them.