Remembering Jack Brickhouse and the origin of his “Hey-Hey!” catchphrase

The words “the Chicago Cubs are on the air” and “Hey-Hey!” still hang in the old wooden rafters of Wrigley Field. For an older Cubs fan, those words and the name Jack Brickhouse  (January 24, 1916 – August 6, 1998) stand as early pillars of WGN broadcasts. Jack is also the most memorable and notable name is Cubs broadcast history, followed by Harry Caray and Ron Santo.

My earliest memories of the Cubs date back to the 1960s when I watched games on a black and white TV while clutching my old leather baseball glove and worn out second-hand baseball. And Jack was at the helm calling the games. Jack’s faith in the Cubs reminds me a lot of Santo, a Cubs fan at heart. Each game that Jack called was supported by his true excitement and sincerity. At times, Jack would attribute the winning of games, and well hit home runs by Cubs players, to divine intervention.

Jack was at the mic when WGN-TV started broadcasting the Cubs games in 1948, and he stayed there until 1981. Jack’s unwavering optimistic outlook was contagious, and in Jack’s own word’s, as he was once heard to say, “any team can have a bad century.” Jack’s favorite baseball player was Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

But Jack’s long-standing mark on the Cub’s was his battle cry of “Hey-Hey!” That short blast of verbal excitement (like many things associated with the Cubs) has its own story. In an interview with Jack’s lovely wife Pat (which can be viewed here), she tells us that, like so many sportscasters, Jack had fallen in love with these specific words, though he didn’t even know it at the time. It just became more or less part of his routine. One day, WGN producer Arne Harris flashed the words “Hey-Hey” on the television monitor. When Jack saw it, he called down to the trailer and asked Arne what  it meant. Initially, Arne was a little shocked, and asked Jack if he was serious. Jack was surprised, too, and never realized he yelled “Hey-Hey!” every time a ball exited Wrigley Field off a Cub bat. So, it stuck from that day forward.

No matter when it began, it created a tradition that lasted for 40 years at Wrigley Field.

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