“The Twins”
A Journey of a Lifetime

The authors developed a fondness for Chicago sports and its heroes by the time they reached six years of age. They managed to forge  lifelong friendships  with many sport legends ranging from George Halas, founder of the National Football League and owner/ coach of the Chicago Bears for whom the twins served as clubhouse boys during their high school years of 1963 through 1967; to Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita,  Hockey Hall of Fame members of the Chicago Blackhawks; and to Yosh Kawano, legendary Chicago Cubs clubhouse manager. They also forged a friendship with Frank Shorter, Gold and Silver medals winner in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic marathons.  These friendships led to interactions with countless celebrities in the sports, entertainment, and political arenas. Combined with a caring and supportive family, the friendships set the authors out on an unexpected journey. The authors intersperse their stories with discussions of familial, educational, and vocational experiences. They provide a narrative of an era when neighbors seemed more connected to each other and Chicago’s professional athletes seemed more connected to their fans.


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.

Tony and Carl Ruzicka were the recipients of the middle-class upbringing in the blue-collar mecca of a city named Cicero, an area just west of Chicago’s downtown. In the 1920s, mobster Al Capone headed up his gang in this large city. The heart and soul of Cicero was the hardcore worker and church-going resident laboring toward the American dream of a home and a good-paying job to provide for his/her family.

Twin brothers born one minute apart on May 22, 1949, the third and fourth children of the Ruzicka clan, Tony and Carl would start the next chapter of America’s history with their “new generation”. It must be noted that on the day the twins were born, in typical Chicago Cub fashion, the north siders lost a game to the Boston Braves by a score of 7 to 2. The Cubs starting pitcher, with the longest name in baseball history, Calvin Coolidge Julia Ceaser Tuskahoma McLish, would hit a home run during the loss in front of 15,113 Wrigley Field partisans. This once proud franchise, winners of a league-high 10 pennants between 1906 and 1945, would finish in the second division of the National League every season from 1947 to 1966. The Ruzicka twins were destined to cheer for this downtrodden group of players and characters who made up the Chicago National League club without much distinction for most of their youth. Time spent playing ball in the street and schoolyards of Chicagoland in the 1950s was safe haven and great fun. Loyalty, friendship, and charity were values taught by Tony and Carl’s folks. Thus, cheering for the local rag/tag group of baseball players was not difficult when you had faith that the next day, or in the Cubs’ case, the next decade could be a better one.

 In this book, you will meet sports legends George Halas, Ernie Banks, Yosh Kawano, Mike Ditka, Bill Bishop, Pierre Pilote, and Chico Maki. You will find out that the most unlikely people to have friendships with the “rich and famous” may, indeed, be living in the bungalows of the neighborhood you live in now, or once did in the past. These “rich and famous” athletes may be living in similar bungalows. You will learn of their pure joy of buying and trading Topps baseball cards and of their receiving Hartland figurines of Ernie Banks, Babe Ruth, and Nellie Fox in perfect miniature molds of their likeness;  of their magical experience of running home from school and seeing Frank Ernaga and Cuno Barrigan hit home runs for the Cubs in their first at-bats; of their seeing umpire Vic Delmore allow two balls in play at the same time in the wackiest moment in baseball history; and of their being on the field for the 1963 NFL Championship game between the Chicago Bears ( 14-10 winners) and the New York Giants. This experience would make the 14 year-old Ruzicka twins the most famous Cicero residents this side of former Bear tackle Bill Bishop.

The story that these two friends of mine have to offer is about living each day with a purpose; that hard work, while smiling and laughing at whatever fate would bring their way, will prevail. Both of these fine gentlemen have lived that good life from the perspective of being rich in character and being men of honor. They will show you, in this enjoyable walk through the decades, how having goals and values, while living up to those golden rules, is the true reward for a life well-lived.

Join these proud Cicero natives in reliving the coming age for America and Chicagoans. They present a fascinating life and reveal real people who became their friends and helped shape the journey they have taken for 71 years.

Find out how being aggressive and not taking “no” as an answer, led them on a magic carpet ride of historic moments with giants in the sports world. How many 13 year-olds can say NFL founder George Halas would become a focal point for their hard work and success? The Ruzicka twins can tell you they were hired by Papa Bear himself.

Tony and Carl will take you in a time machine back to when neighborhoods and neighbors were essential to learning life. Growing up in a small section of a giant metropolis like Cicero, Illinois, these two fun-loving brothers take you on “L” rides, car trips, and walks through decades of their love of Chicago sports and the people who made history around the games.

Enjoy this wonderful life journey by two of my favorite people. They will entertain you with a tour of Chicago while growing up in simpler times, during this very special post-war time of the “50s and 60s”. You will marvel at how easily they made high profile friends, while becoming successful businessmen and raising families along the way. As the anarchist Abby Hoffman one titled his autobiography, if you can’t afford it, “steal this book”!

Tony and Carl offered remuneration for this foreword. Having known them both for over 45 years, their friendship and kindness have more than paid forward this brief look into their last six decades of sport and social consciousness in Chicago, the greatest city ever created. Enjoy the indomitable Ruzicka twins’ zest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of sport happiness, despite the Cubs college of coaches and the 1-13 Bears 1969 season.

Bruce Levine-May 2020

A Journey of a Lifetime What our Reader think…

“The Twins”
A Journey of a Lifetime Book Reviews

Tim Terry
An unforgettable memoir of two extraordinary lives.
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Tony and Carl, “the twins,” have written an inspiring and poignant book of their lives during a period in history which will probably never be repeated again. Technology and other innovations after the great war had begun to improve the lives of most people, and the world would experience some of the most extraordinary changes. Although the twins have related their story primarily from the reference of their love of sports, their story is also compelling as they appeared to have had an infectious overall enthusiasm for life. This spirit is reflected in the style of writing which makes this book fascinating and compelling to read. The authors appeared to be able to identify and embrace incidents which changed their lives and allowed them opportunities to meet celebrities, from sports stars, to astronauts and wealthy businessmen. Apart from being crammed with photographs and descriptions of events that will bring back memories to anyone who also formed a part of that generation, this book will also be an inspiration to younger readers who are just beginning their lives. It is not necessary to be a lover of sport to enjoy reading this, as it also provides a glimpse of a period in time where celebrities were not motivated purely by money and when, quite honestly, I feel that most people were far more humane, and celebrities such as sports stars valued their fans. The world of the period that these authors lived through, and have described so eloquently, also had many serious challenges and I believe that reading their story will inspire today's generation to overcome present difficulties and create a world, and individuals that will be just as fascinating as these two author's, and the people that they knew.
Sports Fans Journey!
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The book is a journey of twins Tony and Carl Ruzicka, sports fan written in a way that is sure to touch the heart of sports lovers. The two grew up in Chicago and reflects their experiences and passion for sports. It’s a fun collection for sports lovers as well as memories of sports legends. It helps us also draws the contrast between past and present sports world that can be a treat for any sports lover.
Lorenza Seldner
Take me out to the ball game!
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The twins is a fantastic memoir filled with sports and nostalgia about the good old days. Narrated by the most enthusiastic twins, the narrative revolves around Chicago, back in the day when the Dodgers were from Brooklyn and when sports were more about excitement than money. Without sounding pessimistic, these brothers tell their stories as young kids, devouring any book that had to do with sports, writing letters to head coaches to switch players, mischievously unwrapping their Christmas gifts to discover the gloves they had asked for. There's nothing ambitious about the writing, nor the book per se. Just a couple of brothers telling the readers about their experience living an All American life through the many sports that lift the spirits of millions of Americans. If you love sports, games, and anecdotes, I highly recommend this book.
Elliott Becker
Congratulations on your Journey of a Lifetime
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Hi guys! Just finished the book! Tremendous! Learned a lot I didn’t know. I laughed and even teared up a few times.
Rashad E. Dabaghi
An engaging story--revolving around great sport figures and heroes from a bygone era
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This book is unique as it is written by two twins, Carl and Tony Ruzicka, who have been inseparable and have had remarkable lives which they unabashedly share with us. I found the book engaging and could not put it down. I grew up in the American middle class at a similar time but not in Chicago, especially Cicero. I did enjoy reading about some of my sports heroes of that time —from a different perspective. They describe their upbringing and subsequent lives vividly and with their special, sometimes self-effacing humor. One of the notable gifts of this book is the their relationship with Yosh Kwano, legendary Chicago Cubs clubhouse manager and trainer. This relationship, like the book, reflected the twins’ character, compassion, and passion for life and sports. They came from an humble background, have excelled at every stage of their lives, and obviously remain humble and grateful for their “journey of a lifetime.”
Nancy Reid
Chicago Sports Journey through the decades
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A fun and inspiring journey that Carl and Tony experienced as young boys and young men. It helped shaped who they became and who they are today. A must read for all the Sports Fans out there. You don't have to be a Chicago Sports Fan to enjoy! Check it out!! Nancy Reid
Jimmy ray
Amazing history of Chicago sports through the eyes of real fans
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This book is a great collection of stories experienced by twins Tony and Carl Ruzicka growing up in Chicago as sports fans. From the start of the journey, these two fans met and idolized many of the legends of the times while collecting autograph and phots along the way. If you love sports, this is a great collection of stories about some of the greats in sports history along with an amazing learning experience of these two avid fans. Check this one out folks, the life and times in sports back in the 60’s was so much different that it is today.
J Armstrong
Great book about Sports and humanity
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Sports Biographies are always a pleasure to read when done well, and this book is no exception. The Twins: A Journey of a Lifetime dives deep into the world of professional Sports in the Chicago area. From the Chicago Bears to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Authors bring us well known facts, but also lesser known tidbits about your favorite players. Behind the scene information about some famous plays and how the friendships between themselves and athletes they met over their lives have shaped their own lives, relationships and friendships. This was a great book in that it reminded us that the famous athletes are simply human too. They err and they can make mistakes, but they can also triumph, and they can bring meaning to peoples lives by breaking barriers and being good human beings. The book was really well written and drew me in quickly. I would certainly recommend it if you like sports, but also if you like to read about inspiring human stories.
Mitch Amino
You guys are amazing
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“I really enjoyed the book. Can’t believe how much you just showed up at the players’ houses. Chico Maki was one of my favorite Hawks when I watched on TV. I was hoping for more Yosh stories, perhaps saved for another book? You guys are amazing. I would’ve liked to see you playing football and running!”
Paul Palandri
The photo montage is unreal
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The book is incredible! The photo montage is unreal. I am predicting a NY Times bestseller.

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