40 years ago

Bill Skowron was a slugging first baseman for the Yankees during their glory years. He was from Chicago, had relatives in Forest Park and made appearances here speaking to youth and civic groups. This is a true story that he told.

Bad Boy pitcher Denny McLain and the Detroit Tigers were having a golden year. Ahead in a one-sided, meaningless game at Yankee Stadium, McLain had a notion – let good ol’ Mickey Mantle hit a homer. He signaled his intention to “the Mick” that a balloon ball was coming. Mickey, like most batters, had never known a pitcher he could trust, so he let it float by big as a honeydew melon. McLain offered him seconds and Mantle dug in. He throttled the baseball far, high and deep into the distant, upper right field seats. A kind of game within a game.

Life went on and Joe Pepitone (Skowron’s successor) came to bat. Like Mantle, “Good Time Joe” had a reputation for trading some of his talent for the “sweet life.” Privy to the gift homer, he wanted a slice of that same melon. Tapping the meat end of his bat on the plate and waving the palm of his right hand knee-high over it, he indicated clearly just where he’d like McLain to present the baseball. Next thing the hopeful Pepitone saw was a rocket-propelled, red-stitched missile moving very fast, then filling the space vacated by his head.

Skowron told – and still tells – a pretty good story.

From the Sept. 3, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

There’s still a contingent of Lutherans in Forest Park because the village had a mostly Germanic plurality the past two centuries. In August of 1979 the Review reprinted a piece about these reformed Christians that appeared in the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church bulletin. Garrison Keillor notwithstanding, here are a few examples:

Lutherans can sing “A Mighty Fortress is our God” better than anyone else … Lutherans can make better coffee than any other God-fearing people … Lutherans believe it is wrong to vote for a political candidate purely on religious grounds unless the office seeker is a Lutheran … Lutherans frequently confess their sins, especially when confronted with the evidence … Lutherans are generally suspicious of pastors who have spotlights trained on their pulpits. More to come.

From the Aug. 15, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

A 38-year-old man was taken to Loyola Hospital for a lacerated shoulder and a psychological evaluation. Refused a rental at U-Haul, he ripped his clothes off and headed for the park where he was collared by the police.

A Chicago teenager stepped off a CTA train and harassed passengers by asking them for money. Once arrested, he became incoherent.

Such police reports often seem amusing and can lend color to a “grey” page. Too many, though, reflect frightened, disturbed or tormented souls.

From the July 12, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Before editing and publishing this paper, Bob Haeger was a one-time failed mayoral candidate, an executive at the defunct Abell-Howe Crane Co., one of the most popular enemy-makers in town and maybe its most underrated nice guy. Besides, he had a keen appreciation for the well-made classic straight-up martini.

He also originated our Annual All Schools Picnic. It’s a lot more than a picnic. It celebrates diversity. For students, teachers and administration, it’s a meaningful all-day get-together in a setting of fun and informality. The way Bob planned it, it also got grown-ups to get to know each other the way many of the kids had already learned. Diversity is the name – and the game. None of us was born with suspicion of others; like the lyric in the musical, South Pacific, “You’ve Got to be Taught.” Bob’s idea is a true one. Attend our All Schools Picnic next May.

From the June 2, 1999, Forest Park Review