Jim O'Donnell: Hot flash -- Jay Mariotti considers an unauthorized biography of Jerry Reinsdorf

  • Sports columnist Jay Mariotti wants to write a book about Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and would like the chairman's cooperation.

    Sports columnist Jay Mariotti wants to write a book about Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and would like the chairman's cooperation. Associated Press

Updated 8/5/2022 4:41 PM

IT IS A MATCH MADE in sports publishing heaven:

Jerry Reinsdorf and Jay Mariotti.


Two longtime antagonists, as simpatico as Yosemite Sam and Bugs Bunny, inside of the same book binding.

Mariotti, now California-based, confirmed to The Daily Herald that he is "actively exploring" the fulfillment of an unauthorized biography of the powerful managing partner of both the White Sox and the Bulls.

"It's time," he said. "No owner has been more influential -- bad and good, mostly bad -- over the last four-plus decades in American sports. The question? Who will have the guts to talk on the record about him?

"I will not write a hatchet job with unnamed sources," Mariotti added. "Nor would this be soft in any way, unlike the treatment of Reinsdorf by the current Chicago sports media."

MAKE NO MISTAKE -- the project is not a collaborative effort.

Although, Mariotti has quite respectfully submitted an extended list of questions to Reinsdorf through high-level communications channels of the White Sox.

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Will The Chairman respond?

Over the years, Reinsdorf has steadfastly declined offers to write an autobiography with such gifted scribes as Elliott Harris and Melissa Isaacson. ("Jordan Rules" author Sam Smith would be far too "housey," like Jada Pinkett Smith writing about her man Will.)

But, the 86-year-old sports magnate did agree to appear in the hit Michael Jordan-authorized ESPN series "The Last Dance" two years ago.

There he was made to look like only a mitigating associate demon. Unfortunate underling Jerry Krause -- who died in 2017 -- drew the brunt of the video heat for the premature breakup of the NBA's most drama-laden championship dynasty.

THE RUNNING MARIOTTI-REINSDORF "FEUD" grew in intensity from the time the columnist arrived at The Sun-Times in 1991 until his abrupt resignation in 2008.

The pugnacious Ohio University grad showed no hesitation whatsoever in demanding accountability from the one-time tax lawyer, who emerged as general chair of the White Sox in 1981 and followed in the same role with the Bulls in 1985.


Greatly accelerating Mariotti's starting-gate furor was the fact Reinsdorf used his deal-making genius and the curious civic ways of old law school chum Gov. Jim Thompson to get a publicly funded new ballpark for the White Sox.

To this day -- now writing at substack.com -- Mariotti recurringly points out that in 78 seasons overseeing the Sox and Bulls, without Jordan, Reinsdorf teams have won one championship.

That came in 2005 when Ozzie Guillen -- another resolute Mariotti foe -- guided Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and crew to a World Series crown.

THE FULL TRUTH IS, Reinsdorf may quite likely borrow yet another page from career role model Walter O'Malley -- the man who moved the Dodgers from The Chairman's beloved native Brooklyn to lucrative Los Angeles -- and never produce or participate in a book on his life, ways and means.

That will leave a wide-open field afterward for writers both talented and not, credible and not, to pick up the pieces and craft their own interpretive mosaics.

Mariotti is offering Reinsdorf input into an independent work by a sports writer with both thermonuclear energy and virtuosity, whatever the public perception of his past peccadillos.

Will The Chairman respond?

STREET-BEATIN': Most hopeful White Sox fans may want to study the path of Yogi Berra and the 1973 Mets. They were .500 as late as Sept. 21 and had to sweep a closing two at Wrigley Field to win the NL East with an 82-79 mark. (They later took Reggie Jackson and the A's to Game 7 before losing the World Series; NBC had to interrupt daytime playoffs programming to announce the impending resignation of crooked Nixon VP Spiro Agnew.) ...

With his August dugout demeanor, Tony La Russa is absolutely pleading for a mattress endorsement deal. But even if they bring in Steven Spielberg to direct, The Sleepy Senor isn't going to top Joey Heatherton's old "Serta Sleeper" spot that aired on many Dick Allen/Sox telecasts. ...

Just waiting on the announcement of a rights renewal between the Bears and Audacy/Chicago. The team remains quite happy with Tom Thayer and Jeff Joniak; there has been some concern about the weakened signal of WBBM-AM (780). ...

Strong swirl that the oily 2023 LIV tour will wind up on Fox Sports. (And Greg Norman may star in a links-oriented remake of "The Beverly Hillbillies" as "Uncle Ned.") ...

And Bob Brooker, on news the Blackhawks will play a preseason game in Milwaukee: "Next season, can't they play 'em all up there?"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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