Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Q&A What Might Have Been

For the past twelve weeks we have been re-introduced to some former owners via this Q&A format.  Next week we will begin the Q&A with the CFCL’s current owners.  I thought a nice transition would be to do a Q&A with “What Might Have Been”.  Back in 1984 David and I approached anyone we knew who understood baseball and might be interested in participating in the league.  We’re honored to hear from one of the people who turned us down.  

It’s time to meet – Mike Swierk.

You were one of the first people, aside from David and Rich, to be aware of the creation of the CFCL.  Do you recall being invited to join back in 1984?

Thirty years ago I made two huge mistakes. I was the micro-computer coordinator at Oak Park-River Forest High School. My first mistake was failing to purchase Apple stock. That wasn't so bad. The big error was failing to become a charter member of CFCL. Some of my students would talk baseball in the morning before school began. The conversations would occur in the hallway outside my classroom - often drifting inside. If no one fell asleep in any one of my math classes the day before I would participate in some of the heated discussions. These guys missed their calling. They were more versed than Ron Santo and Keith Moreland. They were Moneyball before Moneyball! And all this with no Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED).

If you knew back then that this juggernaut would still be going strong 30 years later would that have influenced your decision?

Students would try to talk me into scores of "opportunities." I never took the bait. I'm sure some were successful - like the CFCL.

It turns out that you taught College Algebra, Trigonometry and possibly other advanced math classes to three of the CFCL’s owners.  Inquiring minds want to know.  With the thousands of students you taught, do you have any recollection of Rich Bentel, David Mahlan or Dave Holian?  If so, who was the best student?

Rich Bentel wrote to me asking if I would participate in this Q&A. From what I understand, David Mahlan, Dave Holian, and he were the founding fathers. Rich tells me he was the best student -and the best looking. Rich, the check has yet to arrive.

Even though you didn’t join the league, you always seemed to enjoy talking baseball before class.  What sports do you follow?

I liked to talk with these guys but baseball was not my forte. I played high school and college football (St. Joseph's - Indiana). To this day my neighbor, Bob, and I watch the Bears on a weekly basis. I follow the Cubs, but not as strongly as I did years ago. One of my best friends is a scout with the Boston Red Sox. Great stories!

You recently retired from OPRF.  How long did you teach there?

I retired from Oak Park-River Forest in 2003 - teaching in the mathematics department for 31 years. While I was at OPRF I negotiated 12 teaching contracts for the faculty. The business manager and I got to know each other fairly well. He left for the financial world and a few years later I followed him. In 1993 I became a financial representative and grew my business along with teaching for ten years.

What are you doing now?

I am still a rep for Lincoln Investment Planning. Our niche is the 403b business - retirement plans for teachers and not-for-profit organizations. For the past three years I was mentioned as one of the top 7% of wealth managers in the Chicago-land area. My book of business is just over $70 million. Love what I do! Now teach people who want to learn. Sorry, boys.

We were able to connect with you in large part due to your daughter Beth.  She was a bit of a Chicago celebrity as a producer for the John Williams Show at WGN Radio.  She started her own business.  Tell us about it.

Rich reconnected with me through my younger daughter, Beth. She worked at WGN radio for 12 years. She produced the John Williams show and that is where Rich heard the name. She is currently involved with two ventures. She owns her own business - All Star Interviews. Clients meet with Beth one on one to learn what to say and how to say it. A mock interview occurs before the client heads off to the real thing. She saw a need for the process having met with hundreds interested in working as an intern at WGN. Her day job is with FINN partners, a public relations firm based in Chicago.

My older daughter, Megan, is a director of national sales for Blistex. My wife, Mary Ann, is retired from teaching. We live in Wheaton, Il.

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