Craig Lynch, Blind Sportswriter and Wrigley Field Press Legend, Dies at 72 – Chicago Tribune

Wrigley Field scoreboard operator Rick Fuhs received a message from retired NHL broadcaster Doc Emrick after relaying the news of blind sportswriter Craig Lynch’s death.

“One of the great souls in the press box,” Emrick said. “Now I believe he can see.”

Lynch, who died March 15 at age 72 from complications of a stroke, had that kind of effect on everyone he met. Even Bill Murray stopped by the press gallery last summer to say hello.

Lynch became a mainstay in Wrigley’s press box working for radio station WLPO-AM and for two decades in local high school gymnasiums and football fields covering Chicago Sun-Times games.

“He knew what was going on at Wrigley, over 95% of people were watching the games,” Fuhs said.

Lynch, who was blind from birth, had an encyclopedic memory of Cubs history and tried to disrupt Cubs broadcasters Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer during their evening meals in the Wrigley Dining Room.

“If I didn’t answer his question, he would tear me apart,” Coomer said with a laugh. “He was like, ‘Did you bring your A-game, Coom? I hope your show is better than your answers.

“That’s what was so great about him. He was blind but was just one of the guys and extremely smart. He would ask questions that I would come home at night saying, ‘This guy knows more about baseball than I do in 17 years of playing. That’s impressive.’ ”

I met Lynch in the late 1980s when we covered Public League high school games on the West Side and brought him home. Lynch had walked into the Sun-Times building unannounced and convinced then-editor Taylor Bell that he could do the job – and Lynch was so good at it that other reporters asked him during games how many points or rebounds a player had. Lynch was never wrong.

He also had a great sense of humor and was quiet about his disability. When we were sitting next to each other at Wrigley and something weird happened in the game, he joked, “Well, I’ve never seen that before.”

Lynch once asked White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen how he got to Wrigley Field that day. Guillen told him he had been driven by coach Joey Cora, who Guillen said was driving erratically.

“I’d rather you drive me than him,” Guillen told Lynch.

Lynch grew up and spent most of her life in the North West, graduating from Foreman High School and Trinity College in Deerfield. He would take a CTA bus to get to his reporting assignments, never worrying about getting lost or getting in trouble.

“He has to walk six blocks from Wrigley to Irving with a cane, facing rough traffic,” Coomer said. “It was amazing.”

Most of the time he was accompanied to Wrigley by friends, including Joe Stancato, who drove him and sat with him in the press box. Stancato met Lynch in the early 1970s in the stands of Wrigley Field, where Lynch sat with two other blind friends and rang a bell whenever the Cubs scored.

“I once asked him if he’d rather be sighted as a kid than go blind,” Stancato said. “He said, ‘No, I’d rather not know what I’m missing.’ ”

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Fuhs remembers driving Lynch home on Irving Park Avenue and Lynch said to him, “We’re in Pulaski now, aren’t we?” Fuhs was amazed to know that Lynch was right about the money and asked how he knew where they were.

“He said to me, ‘I know the bumps in the road and the noises,'” Fuhs said. “It was amazing.”

Veteran sportswriter Maggie Hendricks met Lynch when she was a cheerleader at Fenwick High School and covered for basketball star Corey Maggette and the brothers.

“He was so nice and caring with the players,” Hendricks said. “I asked him for advice because I knew I wanted to do this job. He said I didn’t need advice. “Just be curious and work hard.” ”

The only time in the past three decades that Lynch hasn’t been a regular on Wrigley’s press box was in 2020, when COVID-19 protocols restricted media access. He returned in 2021 and had clearly missed his home away from home.

“The press box will never be the same without Craig,” Fuhs said.

A memorial service for Lynch will be held at noon March 26 at Bethel Community Church, 7601 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, with visitations preceding the service at 9 a.m.