Brett Ballantini

Brett Ballantini

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Brett most recently logged a couple of beats at CSNChicago, first following the Blackhawks and covering their first Stanley Cup win in 49 years, then shifting to the South Side and the White Sox.

His sportswriting career began right before the turn of the century, first as an editor for Basketball News and later editing Basketball Digest and Bowling Digest. He has written for Baseball Digest and the Chicago White Sox and MLB World Series programs, as well as Slam, Hoop, Inside Stuff, Courtside, Rinkside, and numerous NBA game programs. He has been featured in ESPN the Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Baltimore Sun and Crain's Chicago Business, and on NBA-TV, NHL.com, MLB.com, WLS-TV, WGN-TV and the BBC. He's also written features for the NBA Finals and NBA All-Star Game programs.

Brett is the author of the essential baseball reference work 'The Wit and Wisdom of Ozzie Guillen.' When Ozzie first saw the book, on Opening Night 2006, he cracked wise to those in his manager's office, asking, "What's wisdom?" To which owner Jerry Reinsdorf replied, "Don't worry, Ozzie. You don't have any." Precognitive, Jerry is.

A lifelong Chicago sports fan, the first game Brett attended was on Dec. 4, 1976, watching the Bulls snap a (still) franchise-record 13-game losing streak and setting in motion the playoff run that would come to be defined as the Miracle on Madison. At Brett's first White Sox game on June 4, 1977, Richie Zisk of the South Side Hit Men homered over the roof at Comiskey Park at a time when the feat was as rare as a no-hitter. Brett's first Chicago Bears game was on Oct. 7, 1984, when Walter Payton broke the all-time NFL career rushing mark.

More than anything, however, Brett is a baseball and a White Sox fan, having seen hundreds of games over his lifetime, including a walk-off grand slam by Carlos Lee to defeat the Cubbies, the infamous Michael Barrett sucker-punch on A.J. Pierzynski, a then-season record home run by Oscar Gamble in 1977, Bobby Thigpen's 50th season save and the classic Blackout tiebreaker win over the Twins in 2008. There have been many pilgrimages to see the team, including a September 1990 drive up from Texas to see a final series at Comiskey Park, an April 1991 flight to see the otherwise-unmentionable first game at the then-New Comiskey Park, outrunning a snowstorm to see the White Sox be whitewashed in late September at Kauffman Stadium, and a jaunt down to the juice box in 2005 to catch the club take on the former Devil Rays.

His highlight as a fan is, of course, witnessing the entire home run of 2005 White Sox playoff victories, including the two extraordinary wins over the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field that spurred a World Series sweep. More recently, he took in Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009, during which Brett made the boldest prediction imaginable--not of an eventual perfect game, but a Josh Fields grand slam! Brett has watched games in every major league city.

Brett graduated from Texas Christian University with a Journalism and English degree and later went on to take two decades to finish his English master's at Kansas State University. He's won a number of writing awards in areas as varied as poetry, fiction, news reporting and opinion writing. Brett lives in Buffalo Grove with his wife, the incomparable Angelique Anacleto.

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Now that you know a little bit about him, see how you score below. True or false, Brett:

Believes that the ABA saved professional basketball.

Borrowed the title of the first draft of his master's thesis from a Camper Van Beethoven song.

Co-founded and played in a band called Ethnocentric Republicans, who once shared a bill with 15-minutes-of-fame grunge rockers The Toadies.

Considers nachos piled high with jalapenos as his go-to concession food.

Gave a Crunch bar to then-Nestle spokesman Shaquille O'Neal before their first interview together in Milwaukee. Later saw an empty Crunch bar wrapper in Shaq's locker.

Gave three photographs from his personal collection to the Chicago Bulls for their "walk of fame" leading to the locker room at the United Center.

Had four front teeth.

Has appeared in one movie, in which he was murdered when Albert Einstein slammed his head in a door.

Has appeared on the cover of a magazine with a circulation of 100,000. As Santa Claus. Bowling.

Has attended just three games in Wrigley Field as a fan. One was to see the Chicago Sting.

Has been a vegetarian for almost 25 years.

Has been doused by Bill Veeck's outfield shower in two different decades, in two different White Sox parks.

Hasn't cried over a game since Tito Landrum crushed that homer off of Britt Burns in October 1983.

Has worked for at least seven publications that are no longer in business.

Kissed the Minnie Minoso statue in the outfield concourse at Sox Park on the cheek as a good-luck gesture before Game 1 of the 2005 World Series.

Lists Sox Park, PNC, Petco and Camden Yards as his favorite ballparks.

Made his modeling debut as a "troubled teen" for a counseling brochure while in college.

Names Chet Lemon as his first White Sox hero, but Bill Naharodny as his first White Sox autograph.

Once walked eight times in a single high school doubleheader.

Published his very first feature in a local newspaper in 1985 while still in high school, about a shopping mall Santa Claus.

Regrettably, on advice of parental counsel turned down a job at Amnesty International to work on the railroad.

Sang along to "Tears of a Clown" with Lakers coach Phil Jackson walking together through the bowels of the Bradley Center.

Snuck onto the Comiskey Park infield after the game on Jacket Day 1978 to circle the bases and slide into home plate before the Andy Frain usher awoke and chased him away.

Still has never caught a foul ball or batting-practice homer at a major league ballpark.

Survived his first teaching job, being plopped into a room full of bilingual kindergarteners.

Was mocked as a "chicken" (or, language-appropriately, a "gallina") by a Guatemalan 3-year-old while nervously descending ruins at Tikal.

Went six-of-eight in a Little League World Series game, won by his Mundelein All-Stars, 55-1.

Won election to university student government on the Facial Hair ticket.

Won gold medals for Wiffleball playing, free-throw shooting and Nerf hoop shooting.

Wrestled Abraham Lincoln in his debut stage performance.

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