CHICAGO -- Dave Jauss, a 58-year-old coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, looks the epitome of the baseball lifer, standing with a bat in his hand outside the team’s visiting on-deck circle.
He had just finished pitching batting practice to the second-best team in baseball as they prepared to play the third-best, his hometown Chicago Cubs, in a preview of the National League wild-card game Oct. 7. The home field in the game is still up for grabs, so this series carries extra importance.
I wanted to know what his father, the late, great Bill Jauss, a longtime sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune and panelist on "The Sports Writers on TV," would say about the Cubs and Pirates being in this situation. Bill Jauss, who passed away almost three years ago, was a true Chicago original and a beloved media personality.
“I hate to put words in his mouth because there’s nobody who could put words in his mouth, because he was one of the best speakers, let alone writers, that I know,” Jauss said. “Its people and the city, that’s what he would be talking about. It’s neat that Pittsburgh’s here, but just for Chicago to get back to where they’re a city and team of prominence, he’d be talking to every Andy Frain (usher), I don’t think they call them Andy Frain anymore, every concession guy, every Old Style salesman. I hope they still sell Old Style here. He’d be talking to all these people and every fan here and not worrying about [Joe] Maddon or [Anthony] Rizzo or [Clint] Hurdle or [Andrew] McCutchen.
“When he taught at Northwestern, that’s what he taught his students, that you have to get into the city to know who the people are to write for them.”
Jauss grew up in Rogers Park and then pitched at New Trier East and then for Amherst College, where he said his dad would send him typed letters that his roommates would steal because they were so well-written. Then, with his parents’ support, he embarked on a baseball life. He managed in the minors and the Dominican League, has been a bench coach with the Mets, Dodgers and Orioles and worked in various roles for the Red Sox for a decade. He joined up with the Pirates as a scout in 2011 and joined the coaching staff in 2013, just as the Pirates ended their two-decade playoff drought.
Is he the good luck charm?
“No, the organization is a very good luck charm, and it’s not by luck, it’s by design,” Jauss said. “It’s the best organization I’ve been involved with, and I’ve been involved with a lot of them.”
Jauss said his father encouraged him to go into sports, and he’s done the same for his son DJ, who was drafted out of UMass-Amherst by the Washington Nationals in 2014. He’s now pitching in Germany. When DJ got a job offer from a man who called baseball a “hobby,” Dave Jauss said his son replied, “Well my dad is 58 and he’s still doing it.”
“I learned that from my dad, and my son learned it from me,” Dave Jauss said.