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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sox Radio Redux
by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends, bits and pieces:

The Sox booth has improved by at least fifty percent since I last wrote a column here. In just a matter of days after my second trashing of the Sox radio booth, Chris Singleton left the Sox and WSCR radio to join ESPN in a non-play-by-play capacity. That was the good news.

The better news was that his replacement is Steve Stone, one of the best analysts in the game. I’ve only been able to hear a little of the new radio combination, but it seems much better already. Stone brings a lot to the game. He’s a student of the game, and a lot of his predictions about what pitchers and hitters are going to do in a given situation are uncanny.

One can only hope that Ed Farmer takes the hint and lifts his play-by-play calling up to Stone’s high standards for analysis. If he does so, that will at least bring him up to perhaps an acceptable level of mediocrity.

It’s no secret that I’d love to see Farmer leave the booth, especially if Stone stays for more than a year in his analysis role. It’s also no secret that my choice is former pre- and post-game host Dave Wills, who currently is doing radio play-by-play for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of course if Stone only sticks around for this season, I’d have no objection to Farmer’s moving back into the analyst’s chair. Anything to relieve the fans of enduring his game calling….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is with sadness that I report the passing of a great Sox fan, Jan Bryk. Jan passed away two weeks ago, and since I was unable to put out a column last week due to other commitments, this is my first chance to mention it here.

I first met Jan in the early ‘90s when we were both members of a now-defunct Sox fan club. I really got to know her well, though when a group of us started the Windy City Sox Fans about twelve years ago. Jan and I were both charter board members of the club.

Jan managed a printing company, and designed the layout for our newsletter. She also designed the Windy City Sox Fans logo. For years at events like SoxFest, Jan could be seen in front of our booth, hawking our “World Famous Pencil Pull.” I have no doubt that the success we’ve had with that game had a lot to do with her getting out in the aisle and convincing people to put down a dollar, pull a pencil and win a prize.

I worked most closely with Jan on our newsletter. I basically edited content, and she figured out what headlines to write and how to lay it all out. We’ll miss her wit in the headlines and in the little blurbs that she’d add to the gutters next to each article.

I’ll miss Jan’s sense of urgency that she needed articles yesterday if possible, and certain no later than in maybe thirty seconds. She kept me to at least some semblance of a deadline, and when all was said and done, she did a professional job on what would have otherwise been a strictly amateur undertaking.

We found out a couple of years ago that Jan was seriously ill, and required surgery. A few months after that, she was recovered enough to meet with a group of us for dinner. She looked good and was optimistic about her chances. Somewhere along the way, we even heard that her illness was in remission.

Then not long before the 2007 SoxFest, we heard that her illness had returned. I had to stop by her house to pick up something. She still looked okay and was optimistic.

Over the past year, our only contact was by email. She worked on every newsletter except the last one. I think it was last fall when we found out that things were pretty bad, but she was still optimistic and we were all still hopeful. It was just before SoxFest this year that we got the news that Jan only had about two months to live. Still, even after that, she emailed us one last time with a little joke about Sox fans and Cubs fans.

Then two weeks ago, on March 2, hours after I submitted my last article here, I received an email from her address, simply titled “Jan.” It informed her friends that she had passed away earlier that day.

When we were in the old club, we used to take a trip to Milwaukee every year to watch the Sox and Brewers play. We’d always have a trivia contest about the Sox. Jan’s answer whenever she wasn’t sure for whatever reason was, “Hoyt Wilhelm.” I’m sure Hoyt is informing her right now of what he did and didn’t do as a player.

Our condolences go out to Jan’s mother, her brother Bill Bryk of the San Diego Padres organization, and the rest of her family. Jan will be missed by everyone her life touched.

Rest in peace, Jan.

______________________________________________________________________

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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