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In Chicago, the Name Isn’t Always Quite the Same

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United Press International

Something about Chicago brings out the worst in our language. What else could explain the constant mispronunciations, misspellings and general abuse of the people, places and things associated with Chicago athletics?

--Soldier Field. How many times have network commentators called it Soldiers Field? How many Chicagoans add the “s”? The plaque in front of the home of the Chicago Bears has no extra “s.”

--Ray Meyer. Again the “s” syndrome. He is Ray Meyer, not Ray Meyers, the former coach of DePaul. Even in Ray’s last game a couple of years ago, the announcers referred to him as Ray Meyers. Maybe they were talking about an appearance Ray planned to make at Soldiers Field.

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--Comiskey Park. Even local announcers have called the home of the White Sox Kominsky Park. There’s no “n.”

--Tony LaRussa. A great Italian name, right? But people in the city and all over the nation don’t seem to like the “a” at the end of his name and call him Tony LaRusso. Jimmy Piersall made a living purposely calling LaRussa LaRusso. It’s LaRussa, even if it’s LaRussa, manager of Oakland now instead of the White Sox.

--Gene Michael. Cubs General Manager Dallas Green called him Gene Michaels when he announced his hiring in June. It’s Al Michaels the announcer, Gene Michael the manager.

--Francis Peay. The acting, interim, substitute, temporary coach of Northwestern’s football team should have less trouble with the Wildcats than people do with his last name. It is pronounced “pay,” like pay me now. Now, the school in Tennessee is Austin Peay, same spelling, different sound. There it is Pee, like Sweet Pea or Pee Wee Hermann.

--Ryne Sandberg. This should be a breeze. But, nooooo . People like to add extra syllables to this Chicago Cub’s name. It isn’t Ry-an Sandberg. It’s Ryne, like Watch on the Rhine. The same people who like to call him Ry-an Sandberg like to call it Wrig-ah-lee Field. The gum and the park have two syllables: Wrig-ley.

--Ozzie Guillen. The trouble here began last year on a network telecast. The White Sox shortstop told an NBC play-by-play man his last name was pronounced “Gee-Jan.” What Ozzie failed to do was tell everyone else because everyone else pronounces it Gee-Yen. Because a network wag decided it was Gee-Jan, others picked up on it. But LaRussa (not LaRusso) and Jerry Reinsdorf, Sox board chairman who signs Guillen’s checks, call him Gee-Yen, which is the preferred pronunciation.


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