This is pretty heady stuff for a White Sox fan. I mean my dad’s initials are tattooed on my arm in White Sox font.
About 90 seconds after checking in at Sports Bar 35, The Big Hurt walks in.
The guy looks like he could still play. He greets the family at Buona Companies who manages this revamped restaurant. BC is the consulting division of their Italian casual restaurant dynasty that operates nearly 30 Chicagoland locations.
Legend has it that it was during a Buona Beef commercial in Arizona last spring training that this idea started taking shape.
Buona signed the White Sox as a partner two seasons ago but didn’t know which player to spotlight in their commercials. The Good Guys are currently in rebuild mode and the thought was that any player could be traded. Last season the Cubs were signed and spokesperson choice was clear, it had to be Anthony Rizzo.
For the Crosstown Classic commercial Frank Thomas, Team Ambassador and fellow first baseman was called to represent the White Sox. Glendale, AZ was chosen as it was best for all schedules.
Frank couldn’t wait to meet Anthony; the two would talk about hitting. The story goes that Frank would tell Rizzo things like, when they pitch you inside, you take that ball right over the shortstop’s head!
The Big Hurt is the only player in MLB history with 7 straight seasons batting .300, with 100 RBIs,100 runs scored, 100 walks and 20 home runs. He is a first ballot Baseball Hall of Famer.
During our interview there was a parade of fans and city officials wanting to greet the big fella. Does this ever get old? “Not at all.” He quickly replies, “This is life.”
I’ve got a 2005 World Championship banner hanging in my kitchen. When I saw the interview going left with interruptions after 10 good minutes, I politely asked if he would sign it before making my exit to record Chicago Beer Pass.
Frank made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the beers sporting his brand produced up in Monroe, Wisconsin. We were all rooting for him, but the truth is we weren’t happy with them either.
The project is in good hands now as Wild Onion Brewery, a crew we are more than fond of now produces Big Hurt ales.
The Brewhouse was open for two years before it closed for remodeling. My mom goes to church at The Living Word in neighboring town of Forest Park. I’ve been baptized there…twice. The only time mom ever wanted to go to a brewery with me was when she mentioned that Frank opened this space near her church.
Friends of the Blast! Marketing network were at the bar. We talked about random local facts that get me excited. The new Coopers Hawk location in Oak Park sparked a conversation about how to how their membership program has garnered a cult following in Chicago’s burbs.. Coopers Hawk is the 25th largest winery in the country.
A town like Orland Park has a population of 30,000 people. The Coopers Hawk in Orland boasts a membership base of 20,000.
Chicago is a living, breathing museum. A trip to 35 Sports Bar & Grill is worth it for the aesthetics alone. It’s a modern sports bar wrapped in a historic exterior powered by a south side legend.
You can find the actual interview here on Chicago Beer Geeks.