Goss: Dan Roan a hit at Old Timers banquet
By Dick Goss email@example.com February 1, 2013 11:38PM
WGN-TV's Dan Roan signs autographs at the Old Timers Baseball Association of Will County banquet. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 21, 2013 4:26PM
Dan Roan may not have taken any cuts against major league pitching in his nearly 30 years with WGN-TV Sports, but he knocked the ball out of the park as guest speaker at Thursday’s 64th annual Old Timers Baseball Association of Will County banquet at the Joliet Holiday Inn.
The sports reporter/anchor we are accustomed to seeing on Channel 9 entertained the near-sellout crowd of more than 600 with recollections of major Chicago sports stories he has covered, and some not as newsworthy, yet fun.
From shooting successive rounds of 68-78-88 in a golf tournament as an Illinois State University student to having to guard Doug Collins in practice as a freshman basketball player at ISU (“that almost ruined basketball for me”) to attempting to stay quiet in his first WGN assignment so as to avoid annoying John McEnroe during the ATP tennis tournament at the Pavilion to hilarious tales — cleaned up, of course — of former Cubs manager Jim Frey and ex-White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen, Roan pushed the right buttons.
He recalled the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup a couple of years ago.
“All I did was cover it,” Roan said. “But Brian Campbell saw me and said, ‘Here’s the Cup, raise it above your head. You deserve it.’ I didn’t feel right, but I did it, and someone got a picture of it. It was cool, one of the nicest things any athlete has ever done for me.
“When I sit back and think about all the things I have done, it’s mind-boggling. I almost feel like George Bailey.”
Roan also answered questions and signed autographs until well after the program concluded.
Will any of us see the Cubs in the World Series?
“I would invoke the law of averages,” Roan said, “but obviously, that hasn’t worked out so well.”
How about the Ricketts family owning the Cubs?
“I’m glad they own the team, and I have complete confidence in Theo (Epstein) and Jed (Hoyer). I give Theo credit for having a plan and sticking to it. Maybe by 2015 or 2016, they’ll be a pretty representative team.”
The Hall of Fame?
“I don’t know what to say about (Mark) McGuire, Sammy (Sosa), (Roger) Clemens, those guys. It probably boils down to, what is the Hall of Fame? I don’t have a vote. Vin Scully, Bob Costas, Hawk (Harrelson) don’t have votes. Maybe someone besides writers should vote for it.”
Should Pete Rose be in?
“If Rose wasn’t such a dimwit, if he would just shut up about it, he probably would be in.”
Roan covered University of Illinois sports from 1977 until 1984 when he worked for WCIA-TV in Champaign. What about the current Illini?
“(Basketball coach) John Groce is tireless, like the Energizer Bunny. He’ll be OK.
“But football, it’s unbelievable to me what Northwestern can do and Illinois is not able to do jack. I don’t get why Illinois football can’t at least be on a par with Northwestern.”
The Old Timers have donated $323,000 in their 64 years to support youth baseball and softball in the area.
Every year at the banquet, the organization honors high school softball and baseball pitchers and players of the year as well as the youth team of the year. KenWoody Sports provides jackets for the high school honorees and the youth team receives the Town & Country Bowling Lanes Trophy.
The players honored all were seniors last spring and are playing in college.
Catcher Cailey Baker (Plainfield Central, Missouri S&T) was softball player of the year, and Taylor Weissenhofer (Lockport, Valparaiso) became a two-time softball pitcher of the year.
In baseball, first baseman Joe Sparacio (Plainfield Central, Lewis) and pitcher Kevin Duchene (Joliet Catholic, Illinois) received the awards.
Baker hit .424 with 32 RBI and was among the best defensive catchers in the area. Her coach, Anne Campbell, described her as “a coach’s dream player.”
Weissenhofer went 22-6 with a 1.23 ERA and struck out 272 while walking 44. She struck out 10 or more batters 15 times.
Sparacio hit .436 with 19 doubles among 48 hits and drove in 43 runs despite often being pitched around. He broke school records for RBI in a career and doubles in a season and career.
Duchene went 8-0 with a 0.13 ERA. He allowed 22 hits and 10 walks while striking out 96 in 52 innings.
Joe Rodeghero, who retired as the Lemont coach after last season, said Duchene was the best left-hander in the area since Carmen Pignatiello was at Providence. “We had (Duchene) scouted,” Rodeghero said, “and the report came back: ‘I saw Tom Glavine pitching today, only he was wearing a Joliet Catholic uniform.’ ”
Instead of going to a team, the youth baseball award was presented to St. Joe’s Baseball. The league had three teams in Pony Baseball World Series and two in USSSA World Series.
The night before the banquet, coaches whose teams are in the annual WJOL Baseball Tournament met to learn the draw for the event, which will be played March 28 and 30 (March 29 is Good Friday).
First-round games are scheduled for noon and 3 p.m. at Providence and at Lockport. Plainfield Central takes on Providence and Minooka meets Joliet Catholic at Providence, while Plainfield South battles Joliet West and Joliet Central tests Lockport at Lockport.
Consolation and championship semifinals will be played Saturday morning at Providence and Lockport, with the four place games at noon, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Silver Cross Field.