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We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends, family, and fans of Minnie Minoso from around the country.

We have met our Kickstarter goal with 43 hours to spare!

As you know, documentaries are costly and this Kickstarter goal is only a portion of the total budget for the project. All contributions beyond our goal will be deeply appreciated and helpful.

We still have the two collectible signed Minoso jerseys. Minnie gave them to us to help us fund this project, and we want them to go to you. They are now available to the first two contributors at the $499 level (reduced from $1,499 and $1,999).

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/235602734/minnie-minoso-the-documentary-0

Enough about Minnie… join us on Saturday for the first of several Studs Terkel Centenary events!

STUDS TERKEL BRIDGE (DIVISION AT HALSTED) REDEDICATION: SATURDAY, MAY 12TH, NOON

May 16th marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Pulitzer Prize winning author and oral historian Louis “Studs” Terkel. At Noon this Saturday, May 12th, the Division Street Bridge, just west of Halsted, will be rededicated in his honor. Division Street: America, published in 1966, was his first book of oral history.

The Division Street Bridge was dedicated to Studs by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1992, but sometime in the last 20 years, the designation was removed. Here’s the video (skip ahead to 1:10):

Governor Pat Quinn, Congressman Mike Quigley, State Senator Pat McGuire, and Alderman Scott Waguespack are expected to join a merry mob of Terkel torch-carriers to speak up and sing out, with help from the Mucca Pazza marching band and the Old Town School of Folk Music.

After the event, those in attendance are invited to gather at the nearby Hideout Chicago bar (1354 West Wabansia), which is opening its doors early for a special Terkel Toast.

Early this year, a loose-knit group of Terkel’s friends, neighbors, associates, and admirers formed the Studs Terkel Centenary Committee to recognize Studs and his wife, Ida Goldberg Terkel, who also would have turned 100 this month.

More information about Studs Terkel and 100th birthday events is available online at the centenary website and at Studs Terkel 100 on Facebook and Twitter.

Please support this project in its final 65 hours. We need your help.


You are the first to see this intimate clip.

In December 2011, we attended the Baseball Hall of Fame press conference sure that Minnie Minoso was going to be elected. Instead, he received nine votes–three votes short of the twelve needed. The 89 year old will not be eligible for another vote for three years.

In the Chicago Tribune, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf reacted, “I’m stunned. I really thought he’d get (all) 16 votes…. It disappoints me. Orlando Cepeda (a Hall of Famer from Puerto Rico) spoke out on this many times about how Minnie was the trailblazer, Minnie was the guy who opened the door for  all the Latins who came behind him. Minnie not only had the misfortune to be black, but he couldn’t speak English. It was a tremendous burden for Minnie, but with all of that, I thought he belonged, based on his accomplishments.”

Publicly, Minnie was stoic and professional. We sat down with him afterwards and he expressed genuine frustration that he may never live to see his honor.

Please share this with all who love Minnie.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/235602734/minnie-minoso-the-documentary-0

We are so pleased to have received pledges from 131 of you! We are 74% of the way there with three days to go–help push us over the top!

White Sox win the World Series, 2005

“Baseball’s Been Very, Very Good To Me” videographer/editor Joel Cohen will be a guest on the James VanOsdol Show on the Steve Dahl Network tomorrow, May 9. The Steve Dahl Podcast Network is a growing web of subscription-based podcasts led by broadcasting legend and podcasting pioneer, Steve Dahl. Those of you who subscribe to SDN should tune in to hear Joel’s story!

We added a new limited reward today, which is already 60% claimed. We also lowered the prices for the two limited edition signed MLB White Sox Minoso jerseys. They are real collectors’ items, and if you are a Minnie fan, this is a great opportunity. We only have one of each, so don’t miss out!

Read the article: “36 Years With Minnie Minoso” in Chicago Side Sports

The Kickstarter projectOnly four days to go!

Thanks to all who have pledged your support–either financially or by spreading the word–for “Baseball’s Been Very, Very Good To Me.” We are so pleased that our project has been emailed, facebooked, tweeted, tumblr-d, and blogged about all over the world, particularly in the last few days.

We have only seven days to make the do-or-die goal with Kickstarter, so for those of you have been thinking about pledging, do it now! All levels are deeply appreciated.

We hope you’ll enjoy this conversation between Tom Weinberg and Roger Wallenstein, two old pals who reveal they still love baseball as much as they did when they were kids.

MINNIE AND ME AND YOU
By Tom Weinberg and Roger Wallenstein

Minnie Minoso with Tom Weinberg, 1976
Tom Weinberg and Minnie Minoso, 1976

Tom: Hey, Roger, remember when we were seven and sat under the biggest oak tree in Highland Park trading baseball cards…and there was no card for our favorite player, Orestes Minoso? All through the ‘50s, he was the most exciting compelling, daring, gutty, player. And he always looked like he was having fun. Just like we did when we played ball four or five hours every day until it got dark.

Roger: Yeah, Tommer, just about all the faces on the cards then were white. There were no black players on the White Sox. Each league had only eight teams, and 25-man rosters. We knew every player in both leagues from those Topps cards that still smelled like that skinny cheap pink gum. When Minnie hit a homer on May 1, 1951 in his first appearance as third baseman for the Sox, we didn’t know who he was. We found out pretty soon.

Tom: In those days, TV and baseball cards were most of what we knew. We were pretty insular: nobody in our town was black, except the maids. And I had never heard anyone speaking Spanish there. First time I did was when my parents took us to the desert near Palm Springs, and we met the people who picked the dates and took away our plates.

Roger: Well, I did know every player in in the American League and most in National by position and could get pretty close to telling you their current batting averages. Plus, my brother John and I studied them quite carefully in the off-season. Especially the black players. The Indians had the most, probably because Bill Veeck signed them. Easter at first and Doby and Al Smith in the outfield. Satchel Paige pitched for the St. Louis Browns.   The National League was quicker to integrate than the American, and they had better players, too. The Dodgers led the way not only with Jackie, but Roy Campanella, Big Don Newcombe, Junior Gilliam, Joe Black, and Sandy Amoros.  Those guys were major parts of “The Boys of Summer.”

Tom: For us, though, Minnie Minoso was in a class by himself. Of course, we didn’t know that he wasn’t allowed to live in the same hotel at the time. We’d never heard of Jim Crow. George Crowe, yeah, but not Jim.

Rog: When Minnie showed up, he not only was the third or fourth black player in the entire league, but he could play! I don’t remember our seeing him as being black so much as considering him simply as the best player on the White Sox. And those teams were pretty good. When our dads took us to Comiskey Park, we loved watching Nellie Fox and Looie Aparicio, but Minoso was the biggest attraction. I think back to other black pioneers in the American League.  Sure, guys like Doby and Easter were good hitters, but other players like Carlos Paula, another black Cuban who broke the color barrier for the Washington Senators, had little of Minnie’s talent. Minnie was better than any of them.

Tom: I gotta tell you…he still IS! 89, going on 40, he’s a Chicago treasure. And a terrific guy.

Rog: I guess that’s why you wanted to make a documentary with him.

Tom: For sure. There’s nobody like him, then or now. He played pro ball in the ‘40s(Indians), ‘50s (Sox), ‘60s (Sox and Cardinals),’70s and ‘80s (DH for Sox) and in the ‘90s and in 2003—-he was 81–he played in the minors, for Mike Veeck and the St. Paul Saints. Seven decades…nobody else EVER did that.

Minnie Minoso in 7 decade hat
Minnie Minoso in his seven decade hat, 2012

Rog: When we were kids, hanging out with Minnie would have been inconceivable. But you have become friends with him. I remember the video of you playing shuffle board with Minnie during a rainy spring training day in the 70’s. He seemed surprised that you remembered Opening Day in 1960 when he returned to Chicago after playing two seasons in Cleveland. (“I hit a home run, way over there.”) How could anyone forget that homecoming?

Tom: “You was just a little guy,” he said then. It was also the same day time he held out his huge Cuban cane-cutter hands and said, “These are 54-year old hands.” That was March, 1976. So, on that day, he volunteered his “real” age…born in 1922. That same year, 1976 in Sarasota, in spring training, Bill asked me to record a few commercials for various TV channels encouraging fans to come to Opening Day. Minnie did one in Spanish and another in English.

Rog: His 90th birthday is November 29…let’s have a party. Of course, the party I’d really like to attend would be to celebrate Minnie getting into the Hall of Fame. When you look at his record, a few things really stick out. Like playing every day. Minnie led the American League ten times in getting hit by a pitch. And we certainly saw him crashing into walls and diving to make circus catches. So you know he had his share of bumps and bruises. But he always wanted to be in the lineup. At different times he led the league in hits, triples, and stolen bases, and on four occasions he drove in more than 100 runs. For the whole decade of the fifties, only Mickey Mantle had better offensive stats than Minoso. Is it any wonder that as kids we thought he was super human? Shoot, even when he swung and missed, I remember Bob Elson saying, “Wow, he went around like a corkscrew,” or “he swung so hard he almost fell down.”

Tom: Yup. As Minnie says, “Nobody hustles more than me.” Your friend and mine, Joel Cohen, and I have been recording interviews with Minnie for more than a year…maybe 30 hours’ worth. The amazing thing is that he’s never bitter about the Hall of Fame (which he lost out on by three votes last December) or the way he was treated in the early days by quite a few players. (It’s not entirely an accident that he was hit by all those pitches.) He has been saying that “Baseball has been very, very good to me,” for about 40 years.And he believes it to his core. This is a lovely human being, and we (and our kids) all have life lessons to learn from him.

Rog: So, Tom, when can we see this documentary?

Tom: I’m confident that we will have it ready to be on TV before the 2012 World Series.

Rog: I know that you’ve been doing this as a labor of love―not to make big dough.  But, don’t you still need some money and to make a deal?

Tom: For sure. We have no corporate sponsor. We need at least $20,000 to finish the post-production, including editing, mastering, sound finishing, licensing fees, and getting a ready-to-broadcast documentary in the hands of a few decision makers.

Rog: So, that’s what you’re doing with the Kickstarter campaign, right? Explain that.

Tom: It’s a cool way to raise money online for creative projects. Ours is at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/235602734/minnie-minoso-the-documentary-0 Nearly 100 people from all over the world have pledged more than $12,000 in the past three weeks. But, the way Kickstarter works, we gotta raise our complete funding goal ($20,120) or all those pledges go away and we get nothing. We definitely don’t want to even consider that possibility, but we only have about eight days to go…we need it all by 8 a.m. on May 12.

Rog: Is it complicated to do?  How does it work?

Tom: Three things: 1) it takes about two minutes to pledge and you can pledge using your Amazon account…the charges won’t go through until we get the full goal amount.
2)  Depending on the level of support, you can get some really unique stuff…lots of it signed by Minnie. All that is on the Kickstarter site.
3) When we get the full amount, you can deduct your contribution from your 2012 income taxes because the producing entity (Fund for Innovative TV) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

Rog: Seems like it could be great thing for the literally thousands of Minnie Minoso fans.

Tom: Let’s hope so.

Rog: Seeya at the ball park…maybe May first, the 61st anniversary of Minnie’s first White Sox at-bat.

Tom Weinberg is a Chicago TV producer with more than 500 programs to his credit, including portraits of Bill Veeck, Studs Terkel, Vito Marzullo, Dan Rostenkowski, and Joe Cummings. At WTTW, he created and produced Image Union for its first ten years and the two-time Emmy winning sports series, Time Out. His work has been aired on WGN-TV, PBS nationally, MTV, Tokyo Broadcasting, and others. He has taught documentary and television at Columbia College Chicago since 2000 and is the founder of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive, which has preserved all of the Minoso archival footage that Tom has shot over the last 35 years. Media Burn currently has about 2000 documentaries online at mediaburn.org.

Roger Wallenstein actually played baseball…at the University of Iowa, 1965-66. He claims he still could throw out a runner or two. He had a gun! He also has been writing sports and done sports radio since the early 1970s. His career has included teaching English for nine years at Francis Parker School in Chicago; coaching baseball at Parker and Kelvyn Park High School (2005) and for the past seven summers at Welles Park in the Chicago Park District. He and his wife Judy owned and operated Camp Nebagamon in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin from 1988 until 2003. His weekly blog, the White Sox Report, is at http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/sports/the_white_sox_report/

We’re excited about the enthusiastic piece by John Owens about our Minnie Minoso documentary on page 6 of the A&E section of today’s Chicago Tribune and the terrific video he made for Tribune online.

Tom Weinberg at the Media Burn Archive (Chicago Tribune photo)
(photo: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Check it out and please pledge your support to help finish this documentary.

We only have 14 days to raise about $10,000 and we can’t do it unless YOU help us. We know we’re going to make it!

It’s easy and fast. Go to:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/235602734/minnie-minoso-the-documentary-0

To the 80 or so of you who have already made generous pledges, we are so grateful… and we ask that you send the Tribune link to a bunch of your email and Facebook friends…now!

As you know, unless we meet our full goal by May 12, we don’t get any of the money that has been pledged.

Thanks for all you do.

Today we’ve got a video featuring Chicago TV personality Ben Hollis, who you may know best as the host and co-creator of Wild Chicago. We worked with him in 1995 on a show we produced called Weekend TV.

We recently discovered this camera original footage of Ben, shot by Andrew Jones, in the archive. It was not used in the show, but it’s one of the best things we’ve seen in awhile. We edited a short clip that should not be missed.

In the video, Hollis hangs out with residents of Taylor Street as they sit on their stoops and drink beer, eat Italian ice, and reminisce about the old neighborhood and the Chicago Democratic “Machine.”

It’s a portrait of the Chicago we love, but not everyone gets to see.

You can watch the whole 39 minutes at Media Burn.