The 108 Interview Series – Mark Mendelson
Here at the 108, it is our job….our duty to bring to you the great personalities of White Sox twitter, either via tweet / photo / video or blog post. This edition is a VERY SPECIAL one, friend of the 108 Sam Mendelson turned us on to his dad who’s lived quite the life as a dealer in Vegas and then a trader here in Chicago….oh, by the way, he’s also the nephew of one Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, the focal point of the movie Casino (Sam “Ace” Rothstein played by Robert DeNiro)….I think I’ve said enough, strap yourself in for some great stories, some cool thoughts on the White Sox and some vintage pics……
Favorite Game That You Were At – I can’t remember the game but it was back around 1964. Hoyt was called for a save, and a guy sitting next to us had a radio and the announcer says, “here comes the Doctor with his dancing medicine show” I’ll never forget it.
Favorite All Time Player That Doesn’t Have a Statue on the Concourse – It’s Luis Aparicio. Not sure if he has a statue. After that, Nellie Fox
Favorite Drink and Dinner at the Park – Polish by far and 6 beers
Favorite Place to Sit – In between home and first base
Favorite Uniform – 1983’s.
Favorite Giveaway – Any kind of bobblehead giveaway
Favorite Theme Night – Big fan of Elvis Night at the park
What irks you the most about White Sox fans? When they like the Cubs too
What is the worst part of being a Sox fan? Not having made the playoffs in over a decade
Worst part of the game day experience? Any time there is a wave going on
What really grinds your gears? Wrigley, that sewer
Least Favorite White Sox player of all time Adam LaRoche
Most memorable experience as a White Sox fan Last out of 2005 World Series
Ballpark experience, how could it be better? If parking lots opened earlier during weekend day games so tailgates can start earlier
What brings you back for every game? The beauty of baseball
Feelings on the wave? Weak
Which Gate is your favorite to enter the park from? Gate 5, that’s where they have the Chicago Sports Depot and ChiSox Bar & Grill
How Early Do You Get To Games? As early as I can, always an hour at least
What Do You Bring To Games? Never bring anything in particular, sometimes a bag but hate having to go through security with it.
How Many Games Do You Go To Each Year? About five or six
Section 108 Questions
What is your favorite baseball word? Velocity
What is your least favorite baseball word? Bunt
What gets you excited about the White Sox? Incredible over the top talent – Moncada!!!!
What makes you sad about the White Sox? The lack of attention they get from the media
What sound or noise at the ballpark do you love? Crack of the bat
What sound or noise at the ballpark do you hate? The sound when a player gets hit by a pitch in the wrong spot
What is your favorite Hawkism? Can a corn
Your son Sam tipped us off to the fact that you in fact are the nephew of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, or for the uninitiated Sam “Ace” Rothstein (played by Robert DeNiro) from the movie Casino, did he ever give you a hot tip on a bet?
Never. He did not want me to play. He perceived me as too straight to play.
Can you give me a story about your uncle, something that wasn’t in the movie or the book?
He called my house on a Saturday afternoon. He asked if my mother was home. She was not. He told me to put on a certain station on the radio, which was a Northwestern football station. I found it. He said leave the phone off the hook next to the radio. He preceded for at least 2 hours of long distance calling, which was a fortune to listen to, but he had serious money on them.
I’m super interested in the early parts of the book, the parts that were glossed over, when your uncle was making his bones as a pro-gambler in Chicago. Did he ever delve into any other gambling besides sports? Gin Rummy, Poker, etc, that you know of?
No. Strictly sports betting – extreme discipline.
I heard from your son Sam that Robert DeNiro followed your uncle around for ~6 weeks to get the character down. Did your uncle share any DeNiro stories with you?
I met DeNiro at my Uncle’s house. Tee shirt and sandals, incredibly normal and nice. He gave me an old DeNiro picture and signed it. He studied my Uncle’s every move for weeks.
He smoked a cigarette identical. He acted exactly like him, facial expressions perfect, etc. No one would know that.
I understand that you worked in the casino as a dealer for your uncle, did you ever see any locals trying to cheat?
Yes, if you had your back turned to them, which you can never do, they will try to add chips onto a winning hand or in craps on the pass line. This happened when learning how to deal. I was a target.
Did you ever get asked to deal “seconds” or to cut a deck in half to foil an Advantage Player?
No such thing. Just standard rules of cutting after shuffling.
What was the craziest shit you ever saw as a pit employee? (Chorizy and BeefLoaf generally talk to dealers and pit bosses when we are in casinos and love to hear their stories)
I was dealing the 100 minimum B.J. table and a guy comes up to the table with his wife and starts talking to the 21 Pit Boss and a couple floormen. This guy worked on the floor in one of the pits and he knew these guys. After talking a couple minutes, he takes out $300 in cash and puts it down in the circle to play it. He wins and presses up his bet. He precedes to win 16/17 hands in row and turned $300 into $20,000 in about 8-10 minutes. In the meantime, the bosses behind me were going insane, swearing quietly as they walked by me so as to not let the player hear it. I heard it loud and clear. In those days some of these were guys would blame the dealer for a bad loss. We all know that is ridiculous, but the mentality back then was different at times. Needless to say, I quit dealing about 2 weeks later and moved back to Chicago with my wife.
Your uncle’s wife, Geraldine McGee, who is played by Sharon Stone in the movie Casino (as Ginger McKenna), seemed like quite the character, can you share any fun stories about her?
Not really funny. My wife worked for my uncle and saw my aunt every day. There were many days that vodka was poured into her coffee cup. With that said, she was incredibly charming and fun to be around. The movie portrays her pretty accurately.
What’s the biggest difference between Vegas in that era and Vegas now?
That would take a novel to discuss. It is day and night. Everything back then was free to get you into the casino to play. Cigarettes, food you name it. Now just charge top dollar.
Do you still ever go back for vacation?
I moved there. My wife is from Las Vegas.
Did you ever cross paths with Anthony Spilotro, who was played by Joe Pesci in the movie Casino (Nicky Santoro)? I heard Steven Schirripa on Joe Rogan’s podcast talk about what a sweetheart of a guy he was in general.
My Bar Mitzvah and my Cousin Steve’s soccer game in Vegas. He was incredibly polite and quite respectful.
If you could go back in time to Vegas of that era, would you do anything different?
Buy as much land as I could.
I understand you are a trader by profession. What markets do you / did you trade?
Interest rate markets
I only know of a handful of big market crashes, Black Monday in 1987 is one of them. Were you a part of that and can you give us the scenery of what that looked like?
Yes, I traded interest rate futures, it was frightening with huge opportunities trading the S and P’s
What similarities if any do you see between trading and gambling (like your Uncle) as a profession?
The perceived edge in both that only you know.
What does it take to last as a trader for the long term?
The fellas BeefLoaf and MySoxSummer are both parents (they have girls ranging from 9 yrs old to a year old), and your son Sam is one of the realest dudes we’ve met along this journey of blogging, podcasting, actin’ a fool. Do you have any advice for us on how to raise such a fine young adult?
All luck, and the less you interfere.
What’s your greatest fear about the “rebuild”? Injuries to these great talented kids
What is there about this team that excites you the most? UPSIDE HUGE!!
Give us a #HotTake about the rebuild. White Sox will win 90+ games next year. I am feeling a big offseason after a major letdown last year
Twitter Account (Besides @fromthe108) and why? Tough question, I would have to say all of them. Each one brings something different to the table and I enjoy hearing different perspectives on things
Person from White Sox Twitter that you’d most like to meet and why? Juan Uribe’s Cup (@Billywires) – that guy is a character
What do you like best about @fromthe108? How quickly the brand has been built. Everyone involved in White Sox baseball seems to know about it, which is a pretty cool thing
Favorite White Sox related blog or podcast and why? FromThe108 podcast, a great combination of Sox baseball, Chicago sports, and random bull s**t
What is your favorite alcoholic drink for #108ing? Be specific and feel free to go with more than one if you need to. What about your favorite beer style? Vodka Tito. My favorite beer style would have to be any kind of IPA.
Favorite cut of Steak? Prepared? New York
Favorite performance enhancing drug? Beta-blockers for pitchers
Who do you hate more Jim Belushi or John Cusack? BOTH
What Other Chicago Teams Do You Enjoy – Bears/Hawks/Bulls
Favorite Chicago Sports History Moment – El Duque getting out of a bases loaded and nobody out jam vs the Red Sox during the 2005 ALDS
Favorite All-Time Sox Broadcaster – Hawk
Any Stories About Running Into or Meeting White Sox Players? Other Chicago Athletes? Our very close friend is the head European scout for the Bulls. His best friend is Toni Kukoc who we have become close with as well – Toni is a tremendous guy
Favorite Band? The Who/The Doors are my top two
What is your favorite song? Roadhouse Blues by The Doors
Favorite TV Show (or Netflix or HBO or whatever the fuck)? Star Trek
Married or Single? Looking for a GF? Married to the best wife ever
Do you remember your first Sox game? Unfortunately, I do not.
What Player had the greatest impact on you? Luis “Little Louie” Aparicio
What was the happiest day watching the Sox? The day they clinched 1959
What was the saddest day watching the Sox? The day they lost the series 1959
What do you do for work? If you could be or do anything else – what? Lead singer in a band
If you could live in any other time, when might that be? I would not, the present is perfect.
If you could have dinner with five White Sox Players, past and present, who would they be? Hoyt Wilhelm, Luis Aparicio, Minnie Minoso, Early Wynn, Dick Donovan
If you could change one thing in your past, what might that be? A financial move
What are you most proud of? My kids and my marriage
How would you like to be remembered? Over the top integrity
What’s the one thing about you few people know? I wanted to be a professional bowler
What do you dislike most in others? Dishonesty
What do you like doing in your spare time? Music
Who is your celebrity crush? I don’t really have one, most of them are full of s**t
What is your favorite movie? The Godfather
What is your favorite baseball movie? It Happens Every Spring
What is your biggest/weirdest fear? Somebody putting something in my drink
What would be your one super power? The ability to see into the future
What would you change your name to? Tony Load
What pet would you love to have? My dog Patches back
What’s your one biggest pet peeve? Those who talk down to others
What’s your one annoying habit? My big mouth getting in my way
What would be a good theme song for your life? Don’t Stop Believin’
What ballpark would you like to visit? PNC Park, I have heard only great things