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

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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.

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