News & Politics

Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan

NPR host’s baseball story “will add to his fan club.”

Washington transplants who have sat in FedEx Field or Camden Yards secretly rooting for their real hometown teams will identify with Scott Simon’s devotion to the athletes he grew up with—Chicago’s Cubs, Bears, and Bulls. The National Public Radio Weekend Edition host offers witty stories about how the ups and downs of Chicago’s teams paralleled his childhood pleasures and traumas.

Home and Away is rich in anecdotes: gathering outside Leo Durocher’s apartment to hear his tales as he emerged for his nightly smoke, or the pennant race of July 1969, when the Cubs’ landing in first place seemed as remarkable as the moon landing. Simon’s sports stories are woven into Chicago’s raw political and racial fabric, such as his tale of the 1965 football draft that brought burly white southwest-sider Dick Butkus and graceful black Kansan Gale Sayers to the same Bears lineup. “At a time when open housing and school integration protests were rubbing the city’s sorest spots,” Simon writes, “the Bears of Butkus and Sayers, Da Bruiser and the Comet, were a team.”

Long after he left Chicago, Simon stuck with the city’s sports teams, offering his deepest reverence to the Bulls of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson. Like his beloved teams, Simon has dedicated followers on weekend mornings. Home and Away will add to his fan club.

Scott Simon