“The Twins”
A Journey of a Lifetime
Twin brothers’ journey through Chicago Sports History and their recollections of a bygone era

Hello! We are twin brothers, Tony and Carl Ruzicka. Growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Cicero, Illinois, a suburb just west of Chicago, we were sport fans. Life seemed much simpler back then. Sports, while important, did not serve as the huge, money making industry it is today. Each town seemed like a true community. Each neighborhood had its own school. Students, “gifted” or “not”, living within the school’s boundaries, had to attend that school. Each neighborhood had its own bank and savings & loan. Mortgages were made by and stayed with the local institution. For the most part, families could happily sustain themselves with one income parent. The Prudential Building at 601 vertical feet was Chicago’s tallest skyscraper. Professional athletes usually had secondary jobs in their off season and seemed more attached to their fans.

Using our uniqueness of being twins, some courage, and our knowledge of Chicago sports, we managed to become lifelong friends with many of our heroes. These friendships, and what would appear to be pure chance, took us on a serendipitous lifetime journey that would have been impossible to predict or even comprehend.

 One day, at age 11, while reading the sports page of the local newspaper, the ”Cicero Life”, we were about to embark on that adventurous journey that continues to shape our lives even today at age 71. Who knew that our journey would include writing this book? Hopefully, it will be a nostalgic look back at Chicago sports, but also serve as an inspiration to youngsters that many things are possible if an effort is made and to professional athletes and to all adults that their interest in youth can truly make a positive impact.

 This is our story.


Living the good life in the brave new world of America in the 1950s, gave hope to a wide spectrum of possibilities for the young post-World War II men and women of the “Great Generation”. These hard-nosed people, you must understand, had dreams to fulfill, with children to raise, that would be unthinkable in the decades to come. Television, space travel, counter-culture revolutions, and the computer world would all be ahead in the next years and century.

Like the authors’ parents, Anthony and Martha Ruzicka, my mother and father grew up in the great depression years preceding and following the Stock Market Crash of 1929. With jobs in short supply and times difficult at best, these very special kids and young adults rolled up their sleeves and worked hard at any menial job they could find while learning trades and seeking education with the promise of a better life.  This was the American dream that immigrant parents sought while leaving the “old country” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With World War II now in the rearview mirror, this new rising society had the belief that any career and future dreams would be easy to accomplish after having survived their previous 20 years of life and death struggles on a daily basis. However, those dreams would mostly wait to be fulfilled by their newborn sons and daughters of the baby boomer era.

Interview with Bob Sirott on WGN Radio 720

Twin brothers Tony and Carl Ruzicka joined Bob Sirott to talk about their book: “The Twins: A Journey of a Lifetime“. The book covers a wide spectrum of their experiences with Chicago sports icons, including run-ins the brothers had over the years with names like George Halas, Phil Esposito, Mike Ditka and Stan Mikita. Click to read the Interview on WGN Radio720

Family, friendships, and encouraging the Bears to hire ‘Da Coach’

“The Twins”
A Journey of a Lifetime

The turn of the page of our local newspaper embarked us on our serendipitous journey

This describes our town and gives an introduction to our immediate family, childhood friends, childhood games, collecting baseball cards, television shows and music of that period.

Our local newspaper had a picture of Chicago Bears Football player, Bill Bishop, stating he resided in our town. His phone number and address was listed in the telephone book. We rode our bikes to his house, rang his doorbell, and developed a lifelong relationship. His wife, Marilyn, suggested we write George Halas (coach, owner, and founder of the NFL) to see if we could be clubhouse boys for the Chicago Bears. We discuss devising the same defense as the Bears defensive coach to stop the San Francisco 49ers “shotgun” formation led offense in 1961.

Just like riding our bikes to Bill Bishop, we similarly did the same with players of the Chicago Black Hawk hockey team. Players included Pierre Pilote, Glenn Hall, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Chico Maki. We describe our relationships and experiences.

We held the clubhouse boy positions for our four years of high school. The first year 1963, the Bears won the championship. Players included many Hall of Fame members such as Doug Atkins, Bill George and Mike Ditka. In 1965, the Bears had one of the greatest drafts in NFL history. Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were part of this draft. We describe our experiences and relationships with these player, Coach Halas, Coach Sid Luckman, and others. We discuss “deflagate” made famous by current quarterback Tom Brady and playing catch with actor Mark Harmon, star of the “NCIS” television show and playing catch with Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli Manning, star NFL quarterbacks. We discuss suggesting to Mike Ditka that he write a letter to George Halas stating his desire to once again become a Bear and calling George Halas with our recommendation of Mike Ditka as coach, and our experiences in 2013 at the 50 year reunion of the 1963 championship held at Chicago’s Hilton Hotel. We are filmed for a segment of “Inside the Bears” that aired on 1/17/14 titled “Halas Twin Ball Boys”. You can view the episode at the following website: www.chicagobears.com/video/inside-the-bears. You have to click on “Load More” at the bottom of the page a number of times until you get to the 1/17/14 date.  

Because we worked for the Bears, we had to switch sports while in high school. We ran track and cross country. Our high school cross country coach suggested that we apply to Yale. We would never have thought of this. We describe our experiences at Yale, including being teammates with Frank Shorter, who became the Gold medal and Silver medal winner in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic marathons, respectively. We describe our meeting Eric Segal, the author and screenwriter of “Love Story” and screenwriter of “Yellow Submarine”. We discuss issues of diversity at Yale, its rising tuition costs, and experiences with Don Schollander, Gold medal Olympic swimmer. We also discuss our hitchhiking to Shea Stadium to see the Cubs play the Mets in 1969. At one game, from an advantage point of a window behind home plate, Carl witnessed an iconic Cubs moment when Tommy Agee of the Mets was called safe at home plate. This is referred to as the “Black Cat” game in Cubs lore. 

After playing tennis and having experiences with Billy Jean King, Chris Evert, and Eddie Dibbs, we get back into running.  We describe our growing relationship with Frank Shorter. This included the experiences involving his running apparel and retail stores, working with him and Olan Cassell of the AAU to bring money into the sport, becoming founding members of the Chicago Marathon, founding running for philanthropy, and forming friendships with other runners such as Steve Flanagan, Herb Lindsay, Gordon Minty, Francie Larrieu Smith, and Ellen Hart. We run with former Chicago Mayor, Michael Bilandic, and are blessed by Pope John Paul II when we see him on one of our runs. We meet singers David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Gene Pitney; television personalities Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas, and Scott Brady; and Arnold Scwarzenegger. Tony meets actress Rachel Welch. Tony meets Barack Obama. We discuss lessons applied by Tony as president of the Village of Glencoe, IL.

Throughout the narrative is our love for the Chicago Cubs. We relay experiences of going to Cubs games at an early age with our brother Tom. We describe collecting autographs, kept scorecards, and experiences in the right field bleachers with a group of elderly fans. In right center field, Joe Mantegna, actor and high school classmate, was doing the same. He wrote a famous play about his experiences entitled “The Bleacher Bums”.

Carl worked on the Cubs audit while at Price Waterhouse & Company. He met P.K. Wrigley, the owner of the Cubs and Wrigley Chewing Gum Company. Because of his relationship with Cubs personnel, we become season ticket holders, with seats in the third row behind the Cubs dugout. We describe some experiences, including a relationship formed with a mentally and physically challenged individual who enriched our lives. We describe how Tony played a part in a famous moment in Cubs lore: The Lee Elia Tirade. We form friendships with individuals who forwarded photos of O.J. Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes to the prosecutors in Simpson’s civil trial. We help Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons finish a song at a Chicago Concert.

We become great friends with Yosh Kawano, legendary Cubs clubhouse manager. We describe Yosh’s background, including his friendships with Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Pro Golfer Raymond Floyd. We discuss his being in a Japanese internment camp at the outbreak of World War II.  Our relationship with Yosh affords us experiences that were not available to any Cubs fan. They included access to the Cubs clubhouse and dugout, receiving one of three game balls from Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game, and celebrating with the team in the clubhouse after the 1998 playoff victory against the Giants. We became part of another moment in Cub lore when Brant Brown dropped a flyball resulting in a key loss near the end of the 1998 season. 

We describe various experiences we shared with Yosh, Billy Williams, Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Cubs managers, and others. We met singer Eddie Money.

Yosh moved in with Carl for the last 10 years of his employment with the Cubs. His involvement with the team spanned 65 or more years. We describe some of the most interesting and humorous stories. We discuss meeting Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider, Dodger icons. We made attempts to get Yosh into the Hall of Fame (His trademark white floppy fishing hat is on display in Cooperstown), hosted his 85th birthday party, and accompanied him on the Cubs plane for a 3 game series against Houston. Through Houston’s clubhouse manager we met Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. In his last years, Yosh was confined to a nursing home in LA. We visited him every year on his birthday. When the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, we purchased and presented him a World Series ring. Yosh died in 2018.  As a celebration of his life, a party was thrown at Harry Caray’s restaurant in Chicago.

We become good friends with the father of Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks. This allows us access to players. We describe these experiences and family experiences that culminate in the 2016 championship. We discuss the rising costs of Cubs season tickets.

We summarize our journey, describing how our lives changed with the day we rang the doorbell of Bill Bishop. We discuss what lessons we learned along the way.

This section affords some of the personalities we met along our journey to describe the experiences from their perspective. These people include: Marilyn Bishop (89 years old widow of Chicago Bears Bill Bishop), Nancy Maki (80 years old and first wife of Chicago Blackhawks Chico Maki), Bobby Hull (Hall of Fame member of the Chicago Blackhawks), Mike Ditka (Hall of Fame player and coach of the Chicago Bears), Johnny Morris (84 year old star Bear),various other Bears,  Frank Shorter (Olympic Gold and Silver winner 1972 and 1976 marathons), Steve Flanagan (outstanding runner in the late 1970s and early 1980s), Herb Lindsay (outstanding runner in the late 1970s and early 1980s), Lee Flaherty (founder Chicago Marathon), Billy Williams (Hall of fame Chicago Cubs outfielder), Mark Grace (Cubs first baseman), Jim Riggleman (former Cubs manager), and Raymond Floyd (Hall of Fame professional golfer).

“The Twins”
A Journey of a Lifetime Book Reviews

Grady Harp
‘Who says, “There is no crying in baseball?” – history on both sides of the plate
Read More
Illinois authors Carl and Tony Ruzicka are twins, born in 1949 to middle-class blue-collar parents in Cicero, Illinois, a small town west of Chicago’s downtown. Why is it important to know that background? Because the timeframe that makes this book so memorable to read is such a contrast to the current status of contemporary times. Best to let the authors set the tone of this warmly rendered collection of sports facts – and cultural differences in time – with their opening words – ‘Hello! We are twin brothers, Tony and Carl Ruzicka. Growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Cicero, Illinois, a suburb just west of Chicago, we were sports fans. Life seemed much simpler back then. Sports, while important, did not serve as the huge, moneymaking industry it is today. Each town seemed like a true community…Using our uniqueness of being twins, some courage, and our knowledge of Chicago sports, we managed to become lifelong friends with many of our heroes. These friendship, and what would appear to be pure chance, took us on a serendipitous lifetime journey that would have been impossible to predict or even comprehend.’ In addition to the plethora of facts and records and people and sports figures that bounce off these pages, the twins offer insights into their family life, and in doing so share some fine moments of philosophy and psychology for reflecting on the progression of the culture of the last mid-century period and forward as a canvas over which contemporary times are being painted. Nostalgia reigns as surely as does the memory jogs that all the information about the Chicago teams – Cubs, Bears – and the men who made it happen. Plentiful photographs accompany this journey, allowing the reader to follow the growth of the twins as well as the teams and heroes they love. As they say in closing, ‘The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, breaking the longest championship draught in professional sports history...Our lives have been like a fairy tale…After our first encounters with our heroes, they became our friends, and these friendships mirror those of our childhood playmates, high school teammates, and classmates at Yale’ – and that tale creates a splendid book for sports fans – and for everyone who enjoys a nod to reminiscence. Grady Harp, October 20
Patrick Bales
A great story about two amazing brothers!
Read More
I know the Ruzicka brothers and they are fantastic people with an amazing story. A wonderful book. Highly recommended!
Chicago Sports Experts
Read More
This is my favorite book to share with my Chicago sports enthusiastic friends. Every person whom I have given the book to (15 copies), come back with a wonderful and appreciative response. The twins were not just viewing the sports scene, they were part of it. Their appreciation for the athletes and sports figures as real people, and not just heroes, comes across on every page. Their respect and love for Yosh Kawano is the perfect example. 5 Stars is not enough.
Thomas R.
Great picture of what it was like growing up in the city in the 50s.
Read More
This was a time of enjoying the outdoors safely in the heart of the city where young boys played sports all day long. It was a time when young people could travel the city without any fear of personal safety. It as you can read is a time when a young person could get close to our professional athletes and truly build relationships with their heroes.
Susan Buchanan
Very Entertaining!
Read More
Great book!
christopher w. nugent
Great memory lane excursion
Read More
A great trip down memory lane with two men (twins) who from an early age were great sports fans in Chicago but reached out to many to enjoy all the games of sport in the US.
fern Josephs
Twin adventures in life
Read More
It’s about life and friendships, and oh yes about sports!
A captivating and enthralling book that you will love
Read More
This book tells enthralling stories that tell so many stories- about brotherly love, about the generosity of strangers, about bridging racial and class boundaries, and most of all, about the tenacity of two captivating twins, who against all odds, become civic leaders and life-long friends with some of the most legendary figures in Chicago history. Written in a fast-paced and generous voice, this is a book that you read and never want to put down!
What a Delightful Read!
Read More
This is a delightful, very personal, romp through Chicago sports as seen through the eyes/experiences of two born-and-bred sports fans. Wonderful personal stories of growing up - and getting to know and work with! - many Chicago professional sports "heroes", whether owners, managers or players. And in ALL the main sports. Remarkable, really. It's a tribute to the people in the professional sports industry as well as to both Carl and Tony as they provide this fascinating history for all of us to enjoy!
john oboikowitch
Unique and Kind!
Read More
Great read A fun reflection on sixty years of sports history by two active participants in this incredible period A must read for sports fans
Read More
It was interesting learning about Carl and Tony’s life and their love of sports. Their creativity in meeting the Chicago sports stars was impressive and becoming the ball boys for the Chicago Bears. Their lives and how it was shaped by family and the Chicago sports scene of the 1960’s. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any fan of the Bears, Cubs and Blackhawks.

BUY NOW! “The Twins” A Journey of a Lifetime

“The Twins” A Journey of a Lifetime Press & Media

Skip to content