Updated: November 11, 2011 3:42PM
Ask the average Chicagoan about Don Baylor or Terry Bevington or Neill Armstrong and you’ll get a blank stare. Only sports fans know those are former skippers of the White Sox, Cubs and Bears.
But ask about Mike Ditka or Ozzie Guillen, and there’s instant recognition. Even people who don’t know a warning track from a red zone are familiar with those outsized personalities.
On Monday, the Sox announced they had released Guillen after eight seasons as the team’s manager. It brought to mind 1992, when the Bears unceremoniously dumped Ditka after 11 years as head coach.
But Guillen, like Ditka, has worked his way into our civic psyche — this thing that tells us who we are as a town — and that won’t fade anytime soon.
In a way few sports figures have, Guillen and Ditka both left their stamp on Chicago. They enjoyed long and successful playing careers here, then later returned to lead their teams to championships.
Ditka, who moved on to coach the New Orleans Saints, left town 19 years ago, but he’s still one of us.
And for Guillen, though he’s off to manage the Florida Marlins, we’re sure it will be the same.
So long, Ozzie. We’ll miss the profanity and the smarts and the outrageous press conferences.
But as Ditka can tell you, we won’t forget you.