Chicago White Sox radio icon Ed Farmer impacted so many in his 28 years broadcasting baseball, and his legacy will live on.
The first time I met Ed Farmer he instantly starting sizing me up like he had so many others.
“Where are you from?” I knew what that question meant. WGN radio had just purchased the rights to the White Sox. WGN had always been Chicago Cubs land. Farmer wanted to know where your allegiances lied.
I grew up in Highland Park, I said sheepishly. “Oh, so you’re a Cubs fan,” Farmer said.
Highland Park was a northern suburb. Farmer knew without me telling him that yes, I grew up rooting for Ryne Sandberg. I quickly tried to defend. Hey Ed, Steve Stone, Harry Caray along with so many others have made the transition from one side of town to the other.
“I don’t care who you rooted for. Just go out and do a great job covering the White Sox.” Phew, I had failed, but still passed the Farmer test.
Farmer was South Side all the way. He loved to tell the story of his mom bringing him to old Comiskey Park and saying one day that he was going to play there. He had so many stories that were impossible to believe. The White Sox stuck on the tarmac in Cleveland, Farmer calling his good friend President George H. Bush to get clearance for the team to take off. Off they went.
For two seasons now, I have hosted the White Sox weekly radio show and many postgame shows. This was a big deal for me in my career to be a small part of a major league baseball broadcast. You want to feel welcomed, that you belong. Farmer would go out of his way to include you on the broadcast. Sometimes you did not know what the score was, but you knew who was producing, engineering, interning and who was hosting the postgame show.
Farmer cared about people. He loved the game, but he equally loved the people around the game. The parking attendants, security guards, off-duty policemen, servers, ushers, they were all friends with Ed.
Food and various candies were delivered to his booth every game. He loved Mike and Ikes, chicken tenders, fries, donuts, grape soda. He wanted anyone who visited his radio booth with Darrin Jackson to also enjoy a treat.
I arrived at the park one July Saturday afternoon last season at noon. My show was in 3.5 hours, first pitch over six hours away. Farmer had no reason to be in the parking lot, but there he was in his car, talking to one of the security people.
The baseball season is a long grind. But, there Farmer was. Loving baseball. Loving people. At home.
It was a regular day for Ed Farmer who will miss Chicago, the ballpark and White Sox baseball terribly. And anyone who knew Ed Farmer, will be missing him right back.