For a good part of the 20th Century, it was not at all unusual to find one particular person front and center at important moments in the life of Chicago, in the business of media, and in American sports.
That person was not an athlete or a mogul, as such a person almost certainly would have to be today. He was the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune.
“He was so influential,” said one of my former colleagues at a gathering I attended on Saturday night; “it was the biggest job in the country.” “I couldn’t believe the famous people who came in,” said another. “He was a celebrity,” nodded a third.
We were sitting on a Lake Forest patio, about 5 miles from Halas Hall, and we were deep into the first of two days of talking mostly about Cooper Rollow, who died March 29. He was sports editor of the Tribune from 1969 to 1977, which means he was the boss when I began my 11 years in that department in September 1974. But the celebrity part goes back a good ways before that.