By David Haugh
When the incomparable Bob Verdi used to call the Tribune sports desk to check on his columns, several questions routinely followed.
Self-deprecating to a fault, Verdi liked to ask if his work was running in the back of the section by the tire ads. He would quiz copy editors about Chicago’s breaking news or screaming headlines. He might challenge the slightest changes to the version he filed with deft diplomacy every columnist needs or draw chuckles with wit drier than vermouth. Almost always, Verdi wondered the same thing aloud before hanging up.
“How did it read?” Verdi asked sincerely, according to several former Tribune colleagues.
More times than not, Verdi was told his column read fine.
“Just fine?” Verdi asked.
No, Bob, it was good. Very good.
“Just good?” Verdi countered.
The answer, once and for all, came last week, when the Hockey Hall of Fame announced Verdi will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism.
Has anybody in Chicago sports journalism ever written any better than the man named Illinois Sportswriter of the Year 19 times over a Tribune career that spanned from 1967 to 1997?