According to IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database), “John Cusack is, like most of his characters, an unconventional hero. Wary of fame and repelled by formulaic Hollywood fare, the Chicago-born actor has built a successful career playing underdogs and odd men out–all the while avoiding the media spotlight.”
He was born in 1966 in Evanston, Ill., and attended Evanston Township High School, which was one of the schools I was assigned to cover when I moved to Chicago in 1989 to take a job as assistant sports editor at Pioneer Press Newspapers. By that time, John had already been in 14 feature films, including “Sixteen Candles,” “Stand By Me,” “Eight Men Out,” and “Sixteen Candles.”
I was watching “Eight Men Out” again the other day when John Cusack’s character, baseball player Buck Weaver, struck me as looking like an Art Schumacher-type of guy back in the late 1900s and early 1920s. “Eight Men Out” is the story of the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, in which several White Sox players took money from gamblers to throw the World Series. It’s been said that Buck Weaver never took any money and played near flawless, inspired baseball during that World Series, while some of his teammates obviously were not giving their best effort. Nevertheless, Weaver was banned from baseball for life in 1920, along with seven of his teammates.
After reading more about Buck Weaver, and the enthusiasm he had, and how he stood up for what he believed in, it seemed to me that he and Art Schumacher were of the same spirit, living in the same time about 90 miles apart, Art in the Milwaukee area and Buck in Chicago.
I’d always thought John Cusack would make a good Art Schumacher anyway, so I thought I’d send him a book. I signed it, telling him I’ve always enjoyed his work, which I have, and that the Buck Weaver character reminded me of my book, which it did. I also mentioned that I’d spent much time at ETHS (Evanston Township High School) as a sports reporter for the Evanston Review back in the 1990s.
I went to the post office and the clerk asked me if this was the John Cusack. I said yes and told her it was a book I had written. She wished me good luck and said she was going to have to remember my name.
So, there you go. My book is on it’s way to John Cusack.