Editor’s note: The late Les Grobstein in his wanderings about Chicago sports was a witness to Dick Allen’s 1972-74 White Sox feats, and talked about that era on his popular overnight radio show on AM 670-The Score. Here is a memoir of Les’ impact on fans and radio…
Les Grobstein already was a legend in his travels when he agreed to co-host my syndicated “Diamond Gems” baseball radio show in 2003 after predecessor Red Mottlow had passed away at 76 from a brain tumor.
As the story goes, one seemingly impossible trip had The Grobber finishing his all-night show on The Score AM 670 at dawn Friday, then hopping a plane to Seattle to cover the White Sox-Mariners American League Division Series Game 3 scheduled for 3 p.m. Central Time. When the Sox lost, The Grobber simply turned around on the longest Lower-48 States flight to Chicago and returned home. The next afternoon, he supposedly was in attendance as usual at a Northwestern home football game.
Another all-nighter on radio, then a round-trip to a Cubs-Cardinals game in St. Louis, were also endurance feats to Grobstein’s credit.
“He lived the life that he wanted to live,” said Mark Grote, Grobstein’s Score teammate, former Cubs radio pre-and-post-game host and Frank Gorshin-like imitator of Les and Sweet Lou Piniella.
“What might’ve appeared chaotic to you and me was bliss for him,” Grote said. “He never lost his youthful exuberance, and fierce loyalty as it pertains to sports, even as he often was on the front lines for some of the biggest games in sports history.”
Recognizing Grobstein’s ability to conduct his sleepless travels, I concocted the proper introduction at the start of each show in which Les occupied the second chair. The intro went something like this: “And now here is our co-host, a man who tries to be in two places at once, who must keep moving like a shark to survive, who was born 300 years too early for a Star Trek transporter…Les Grobstein.”
Dozens of attempts at describing The Grobber had been attempted in the days after his body was discovered Jan. 16 at his home in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village, far too young to go at 69. Something went terribly awry – Les had called in sick four days earlier, unable to do his midnight to 5 a.m. talk show on The Score AM 670.
Like other Score hosts, Grobstein had done his show from home during the pandemic. His mindset was reporting to work at 50%, as long as he could talk and think. But not going on the air now from the comfort of home and apparently declining friends’ urging to visit the emergency room was pretty serious.