O'Donnell: For Mike Leiderman, Highland Park was a tolerant, safe haven now grossly violated
MIKE LEIDERMAN REMAINS one of the lost gems in the history of Chicago TV sportscasting.
Today, in the wake of "Highland Park," he is among the profoundly diminished.
Leiderman's run-up at WMAQ-Channel 5 all those years ago was far too short.
He fell victim to the same "Nuthouse News" operation that in less than six years also blew away Johnny Morris, Greg Gumbel and Tim Weigel.
All four were in unquestioned ascent.
As Gary Deeb later said: "Leiderman was simply too smart for Chicago TV."
John Schulian wrote: "He had grace and wit and intelligence and his higher-ups couldn't deal with it."
STILL, HE AND WIFE HERMINE -- an attorney -- steadfastly called the North Shore home since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
He survived professionally by hosting, writing and producing for a number of local TV vehicles. The list includes the forerunner of what is today NBC Sports Chicago, WTTW-Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight," Fox 32's "9 p.m. News" and "North Shore Magazine on the Air."
The Leidermans currently live in south Florida.
The Daily Herald asked him for any perspective on Monday's despicable gun violence.
"Three years ago, we left Highland Park and Deerfield, the family home for more than 40 years. Our children were now middle-aged adults living on opposite coasts and we thought it was time for a warmer, less stressful retirement.
"While we'd miss our former life, we looked forward to our next chapter.
"Then came Monday's parade."
"My wife and I rushed to contact as many friends as possible. Several had attended the parade. Thankfully, none were harmed, although some had close calls and all were traumatized.
"Then I saw my town's familiar main streets splashed over what seemed like every media outlet in the country, described as scenes of horror and carnage.
"Selfishly, I felt violated. How dare someone do this to a peaceful community? We had come for a better life and we'd found it. Our children had friends from different backgrounds and socioeconomic groups. They learned tolerance and resilience, enjoyed the benefits of an outstanding education.
"Their religion was respected and they, in turn, honored the beliefs of others.
"Since our move, we continue to stay in touch with old friends and neighbors. Thank you, 'Face Time' and 'Zoom.' "
"But the shock that somehow, this good place could fall victim to such evil both angered us and reinforced the bonds we felt toward it. We can live elsewhere, but Highland Park will always be home.
"A lone gunman -- young, white, male -- shooting at innocents with high-powered weapons. 'It was inevitable,' many said, recalling the numerous similar national tragedies.
"To me, that phrase should never apply to Highland Park. It was a safe haven for years, but, sadly, no longer.
"That reality hurts far more than simply moving out of town."
STREET-BEATIN': Returning to the more mundane, deserving White Sox fans are facing a very rough reality -- the '22 Twins of Rocco Baldelli are a hungrier, more efficient, better-managed baseball team. (How about a swap of Rich Hahn to the Cubs for Jed Hoyer and a sportsbook to be named later? That way Hahn gets to escape the madness and Hoyer can expand his sphere of softball sports media appearances.) ...
Hardest Q. come fall for South Side archivists will be: Which play most typifies the lobotomized ball of The Sleepy Senor: Tony La Russa's two-strike call for an intentional walk to LAD's Trea Turner last month, or Monday night's 8-5 MINN triple play enabled by the madcap baserunning of those disconnected Sox? (Vote early and often.) ...
That report Lori Lightfoot may "explore the feasibility" of a $1B dome for Soldier Field suggests a different sort of lid. That would be the one on Her Honor's chances of being reelected Mayor of Chicago next year. ...
Nick Faldo will be side and back of center for NBC's coverage of The Open from The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland next week. The Sneaky Sir is third-billed analyst behind Paul Azinger and Justin Leonard. ...
And theatrical Dick Mueller, after a recent appearance of gray sage Mike Mulligan on Marquee Sports' minimalist "The Sportswriters": "Is he about to open sometime soon in 'The Ghost of Brian Dennehy' at Steppenwolf?"
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com.