Many moons ago I traveled to Chicago to do a feature story on Ozzie Guillén, largely because I noticed how popular he was every time he came to Yankee Stadium. Bush Sr. was president, the White Sox were still playing in the amazingly dreary Comiskey Park, and it was 87 degrees and sticky for three days straight, and Chicago did not yet have air-conditioning. A young Sammy Sosa lingered around the clubhouse, but he looked so skinny and ineffectual to me at the time I thought he wouldn’t make it.
I found most of the players difficult to speak with because i wasn’t a beat writer, and predictably the two most friendly Sox were Steve Lyons, who went on to a career working in television, and the manager Jeff Torborg, a New Jersey native who later returned to the NYC area to manage the Mets. I thought since Ozzie was a Latino hermano he would be cool, but at first he was kind of a jerk. Fortunately I ran into Juan Vené in the press box, and as the dean of Spanish-language baseball writers, he sent a message to Ozzie to give me a few minutes, and it worked.
When I went back to the clubhouse the second night, Ozzie was totally open, in fact, a journalist’s dream, spewing all kinds of soundbites and peppering his speech with advanced Spanglish code-switching. It was a nice freeze-capture of what he would become–extremely communicative, yet erratic in how and what he communicated; very warm but strangely enigmatic.
Click below to read the whole story, as it appeared in September 1990.