Top 40 OMG Moments in Recent Chicago History

MOUTH WIDE OPEN: We pick the 40 moments in recent Chicago history that made you stop, blink, and say, “Oh my God!”

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OMG moments in recent Chicago history

To celebrate our magazine’s 40th anniversary this December, we name the 40 best records, restaurants, movies, and more

30. Sox Come Up Short
August 8, 1976
Bill Veeck introduced shorts into the uniform lineup, which the team wore once—during the first game of a double-header against the Kansas City Royals at Comiskey Park. The players were ridiculed. “You guys are the sweetest team we’ve seen yet,” quipped Kansas City first baseman John Mayberry. For footage of the Sox frolicking in shorts at Comiskey against fabulous ’80s background music, watch the video below:

29. Royko Crosses the Street
January 11, 1984
Tears fell and jaws dropped when Marshall Field V announced to the newsroom that the Chicago Sun-Times had been sold to the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, ending four decades of ownership by the Field family. A month later, Mike Royko took a leave of absence; a month after that, he published his first column for the rival daily, the Tribune.

28. Out, Damned Sculpture!
May 1, 1981
Ten days after Miró’s Chicago was unveiled, a 24-year-old part-time art student named Crister Nyholm threw a jar of red paint on the piece—a 40-foot woman with a fork coming out of her head by the Spanish surrealist Joan Miró. “I just don’t like the statue,” Nyholm told police. The city fined him $17,037.21, the cost to clean the damage.

27. Predeceased
April 23, 1989
The Tribune announced that Vito Marzullo, the city’s 91-year-old political patriarch, had died. One problem: Vito was still alive and read his own obit over Sunday breakfast. In a story the next day, the paper’s media writer explained that there had been a death at the four-flat where Marzullo lived—but it was his brother-in-law, Louis Coia. (Marzullo died the next year.)

26. Shattered Reputation
June 3, 2003
When Sammy Sosa’s bat cracked apart in the first inning of a Chicago–Tampa Bay game and umpires found cork inside (a banned form of tampering), was it the beginning of the end for the Dominican slugger? Or did Sosa’s lame excuse that he accidentally picked a practice bat do him in? Either way, after a seven-game suspension, Sosa continued his season slump; his image never recovered. Read our September 2010 story on the ex-slugger: Sammy Sosa: Cubs ‘Threw Me into the Fire’ »

25. Do as They Say
September 16, 1998
Chicago politicians have a knack for hypocrisy. Our favorite: Representative Henry Hyde, of Bensenville, then the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was leading the charge to impeach President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky episode when it came out that Hyde had conducted a five-year affair in his mid-40s. He dismissed his actions as “youthful indiscretions.”

24. Oops! Was That a Historic Landmark?
August 25, 1980
A year after it was designated a Chicago landmark, the city’s second-oldest residence—the 129-year-old Henry W. Rincker House at 6366 North Milwaukee Avenue—was “accidentally” demolished by the Cirro Wrecking Company.

23. Food Fight
March 29, 2005
In a Tribune story about proposals in other states to ban the sale of foie gras (fatty duck liver), two of Chicago’s starred chefs took potshots at each other. Charlie Trotter said he didn’t serve the product because he considered its production inhumane. Rick Tramonto called the stance hypocritical since Trotter’s restaurant served meat: “Either you eat animals or you don’t eat animals.” Trotter’s retort: “Maybe we ought to have Rick’s liver for a little treat. It’s certainly fat enough.”

22. Kindergarten Cop
January 24, 2009
Clad in a real police uniform, a 14-year-old boy walked into a South Side station and posed as a traffic officer for five hours—reportedly riding with a partner, issuing tickets, and even driving the squad car—before someone noticed that he wasn’t wearing a regulation star. Watch the WMAQ-TV report of the story »

21. Love Bug
Spring 1981
A month after Ruth Love became Chicago’s school superintendent, a top aide, Charles Mitchell Jr., reported that electronic eavesdropping devices had been found in her car, office, and conference room (the infamous “Love bug”). Five days later, Mitchell revealed that the story was a hoax he’d concocted “to discourage the possibility of future wiretaps” and threats to Love’s safety. He resigned immediately.

Photo gallery


4 years ago
Posted by tribe22

Re: #30, obviously, the Sox wore those shorts more than one if they debuted against KC. The film clip show the Sox in shorts vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

4 years ago
Posted by J.T.

Thanks, Tribe22. We're tracking down the actual number of times the team wore the shorts. Stay tuned.

4 years ago
Posted by TheMikePhillips

Good article. I'd like to see proper credit given to the owner/shooter of the video from the Olympics announcement. The way the article is written, it leads the reader to assume Chicago Magazine shot this video. But looking at YouTube, it does not appear so.
At any rate, I see the media engaged in this practice way too often. I don't see it any different than ripping off a photo for the publication's own gain.
It's true, the video is technically open to the public. However, there are few options, at this point, when it comes to sharing video online. So, people are forced to use YouTube or another "sharable" service. I think video owners should expect to have their videos shared by others but, at the same time, should also expect the courtesy of being credited appropriately.

4 years ago
Posted by Joe Pepitone

Lee Elia's rant still is still 100% true only they can add another 27 years of winning nothing.

4 years ago
Posted by Nelson Fox

Looking for the White Sox winning the World Series, the first baseball championship in this city in nine decades, followed immediately by the largest public gathering in Chicago history, a LaSalle Street parade with 1.75 million people in attendance? Surely you've included it, and I just missed it. What number is it?

4 years ago
Posted by J.T.

Tribe22, according to the White Sox, the team wore the bermuda-shorts uniforms three times during the 1976 season.

4 years ago
Posted by SB Nation Chicago

There were three dates, confirmed
by newspaper accounts (the Chicago Tribune archive) and the YouTube
video you posted.

August 8, 1976 was the first date; they did it again on August 21
(mentioned in newspaper accounts as being done for NBC, which was
carrying the game as its backup Saturday Game of the Week) and the
first game of the doubleheader on August 22. The latter is the
confirmed date of the YouTube video -- it shows a beer-case stacking
contest which was held between games of that doubleheader, which was
shown in a photograph in the Tribune recap of that day's games.

Mystery solved.

3 years ago
Posted by Jules236

You may have mentioned this in the Top40 sports moments, but the Sox winning the World Series has got to be an OMG moment is there ever was one -- it was SO much more than a seminal sports feat, and took in almost all the residents of the city, even (a few) Cubs fans. Didja see how many people were downtown for the parade?

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