The Day Thread Resembles the Fo’c’sle of a Tramp Steamer

After the Chicago Bears’ incredible 1985 season, expectations were high for a repeat performance the following year. However, on January 3, 1987, the Bears were defeated in a playoff upset by the Washington Team on their home turf at Soldier Field.

Then as now, local media was obsessed with airing the reaction of inebriated fans to their favorite teams’ wins and losses. Dozens of news crews were lined up outside the gates of Soldier Field to record the cogent insights of departing Bears supporters who had just had their Super Bowl dreams crushed. WBBM, the CBS affiliate, had sent in legendary Chicago newsman John “Bulldog” Drummond on their behalf.

Drummond covered the organized crime beat for 30 years and was one of the few media figures trusted by operatives on both sides of the law. He had seen some shit and did not put up with shit. He also loved a colorful turn of phrase, as we’ll see in a moment.

As the WBBM newsroom cut to the remote feed, viewers saw a clearly frustrated Drummond dealing with an unruly crowd (who may have been further antagonized by Drummond’s University of Minnesota cap, whose colors resembled those of the Washington Team). “Bulldog” tries valiantly under the conditions but throws in a rhetorical flourish that immediately entered Chicago broadcasting history; he says that the foul language used by the crowd made him think he was “on the fo’c’sle of a tramp steamer”!

Drummond is wearing that same coat during his appearance in 1993’s “The Fugitive”, screenshotted above.

Drummond follows this up by elbowing a goon behind him, then gets into a shoving match with the crowd after one of them tries to steal his hat. He does his best to carry on with the segment but quickly gives up and throws it back to the studio.

Now, this may all seem somewhat quaint by 21st Century standards, but it caused a mild sensation at the time and Drummond’s verbose outburst went viral. Local disc jockeys played the audio endlessly. Call-in sports programs devoted air time to explaining just what a “fo’c’sle” was. Drummond took the ribbing with grace and even appeared on the Steve Dahl and Garry Meir program to discuss the incident. He’s still alive and kicking, and still being asked about that remote segment thirty-five years later.

Hope you have a better January 3rd than John Drummond did!