John Beasley "Jack" Brickhouse (January 24, 1916 – August 6, 1998) was an American sports broadcast announcer. Known primarily for his enthusiastic coverage of Chicago Cubs games on television from the late 1940s until the early 1980s, he received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.
He covered national events from time to time, including the World Series, even though the Cubs never got there. The voice on the audio track of the famous Willie Mays catch in Game 1 of the 1954 Series at the Polo Grounds belongs to Brickhouse. He was doing the game on NBC television along with the New York Giants' regular broadcaster, Russ Hodges.
Brickhouse also covered many other events, sports and otherwise, such as professional wrestling. Prior to the Chicago White Sox getting their own TV network, he often did Sox games as well. And for many years he covered the Chicago Bears on radio, in an unlikely and entertaining pairing with famous Chicago gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet.And he also did Chicago Bulls basketball games for WGN-TV from 1966 until 1973.
Brickhouse was born in Peoria, Illinois to Will and Daisy Brickhouse. His father died when Jack was just two years old, and the younger Brickhouse was largely raised by his mother. Brickhouse's first job was delivering the Peoria Journal and Peoria Star, a job he took during the Great Depression at age 11. Brickhouse attended Peoria Manual High School.
Brickhouse began his broadcasting at the age of 18 at Peoria radio station WMBD in 1934. Chicago radio station WGN hired him in 1940 to broadcast Cubs and White Sox games, largely on the recommendation of their top announcer, Bob Elson. He was also the very first face shown when WGN-TV, Chicago's Channel 9, began broadcasting in 1948. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, and thus missed the 1945 season, the only time during his long tenure that the Cubs would win the National League pennant. His only pennant as a broadcaster would be the one won by the White Sox in 1959.
Brickhouse tried to let the pictures speak for themselves. In contrast, his successor as Cubs announcer, Harry Caray, a radio broadcaster by training, tended to describe the game on TV as if he were doing a radio broadcast. Brickhouse was sparer with his descriptive prose; perhaps not as spare as Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but talking in quick bursts rather than long sentences, knowing that the well-established camera work of WGN-TV and of producer Arne Harris would tell much of the story.
Instead of over-describing the action, "Brick" was more likely to add "flavor" to what was obviously happening, with almost child-like enthusiasm. He would pepper his play-by-play with various old-fashioned expressions, such as "Whew, boy!" after a close play that went the home team's way, or "Oh, brother!" when it went the other way, or "Wheeeee!" when the team would do something well.
He was best known for the expression "Hey-hey", which he reportedly used everywhere... when the baseball team hit a homer, when the football team scored a touchdown, or even when he was taking tricks in a card game. But it was that home run call that stuck in fans' memories, and that phrase now vertically adorns the screens on the foul poles at Wrigley Field.
Chicago columnist and lifelong Cubs fan Mike Royko's annual Cubs quiz, April 11, 1968, included the following question:
- Q: Quick - When a ball goes over the left-field wall, what street does it land on?
- A: Waveland Avenue. But to hear Jack Brickhouse yell, you'd think it landed in his eye.
(One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko, University of Chicago, 1999, p.29-31)
Some examples of Brick's calls:
September 22, 1959; White Sox at Cleveland in the 9th inning of what would be the A.L. championship pennant-clinching game.
"(Carrol) Hardy on second, (Jimmy) Piersall on first, and 'dangerous' Vic Power is up ... one out. Power ... is 1 for 4, an infield single ... there's a ground ball ... (Luis) Aparicio has it ... steps on second, throws to first ... THE BALL GAME'S OVER! THE WHITE SOX ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF 1959! A FORTY YEAR ... WAIT HAS NOW ENDED!"
May 15, 1960; pitcher Don Cardwell, in his Cubs debut, is trying to get the last out of a no-hitter, against the St. Louis Cardinals; the batter is Joe Cunningham; the left fielder is Walt "Moose" Moryn...
- "Watch it now ... Hit on a line to left ... Come on, Moose! ... HE CAUGHT IT! Moryn made a fabulous catch! ... It's a no-hitter for Cardwell! ... What a catch that Moryn made, what a catch he made!"
December 15, 1963; Bears defensive back Dave Whitsell makes a key play that wins the game over Detroit, and clinches the Western Conference for the Bears...
- "Here's the pass ... picked off by Whitsell! ... HE'S GONNA GO! ... HE'S GONNA GO! ... TOUCHDOWN! ... HEY-HEY!"
May 12, 1970; Atlanta's Pat Jarvis pitches to "Mr. Cub", Ernie Banks...
- "Jarvis fires away ... That's a fly ball, deep to left, back, back ... HEY-HEY! He did it! Ernie Banks got number 500! The ball tossed to the bullpen ... everybody on your feet ... this ... is IT! WHEEEEEEE!"
Cubs broadcasters, June 11, 1981 - Vince
Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, Milo Hamilton, Jack Brickhouse
Following brain surgery on March 3, 1998 to remove a tumor, he died in Chicago, Illinois from cardiac arrest at age 82. This sad event came amidst the excitement of the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race, and was a double-whammy in that the Cubs had lost their other broadcasting icon, Brickhouse's successor Harry Caray, during the off-season. They had similar personalities and styles: extroverts, and "homers" who tried to make even the poorest games seem exciting.
- Baseball Hall of Fame - Frick Award recipient
- Jack Brickhouse Memorial in Chicago
- WGN Radio's page for Jack Brickhouse
Vin ScullyFord C. Frick Award
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