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Northern Exposure: Joliet JackHammers

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Some say "Jaw-lee-et" while others call it "Joe-lee-et." I even heard some say "Ju-lee-et" – which is completely off the mark. So right off the bat here, let’s clear up the pronunciation of Joliet. According to a 1939 city ordinance, "the only official correct and proper pronunciation" of the name is using the long "O" and putting the emphasis on the first syllable. There you go: JOE-lee-et.

A quick look at this city and the Northern League team…

Dugout Turnstile
The JackHammers have been in the league since 2002. Turns out the first season was their most successful one, as they qualified for the playoffs that summer (they were swept in three games by Sioux City). Since then, Joliet has only had one above-.500 season. Managers over their history include: Matt Nokes, Jeff Isom, former Goldeyes legend Hal Lanier, Wally Backman and new for this season, Chad Parker. Five guys in nine years. I think I know what the problem is.

Cutler-Blind
This is why minor league baseball is great. The JackHammers, noticing Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had a tendency to throw the odd interception or two (or 26), came up with a November promotion: For every pick No. 6 threw, the team donated a pair of season tickets to a Joliet not-for-profit. Fantastic idea. They gave away 18 tickets that month.

More Fun Facts
Joliet is located just southwest of Chicago (45 minute drive) and claims to be one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Its most notable attraction? The Joliet Prison. It’s no longer in operation, though, which is a crime. A person from Joliet is called a "Jolietan." Famous people who have spent some time growing up in Joliet include singer Lionel Richie, comedian Andy Dyck, and former Major League outfielder Jesse Barfield.

A.B. Gustos
Finally, despite some of the online reviews which call the joint "an outright dive" and suggestions that "there are so many places in the area that are better than this dump," Gustos holds a special place for a few Winnipeg media members (including yours truly). Sure, it’s dark and it’s grimy, but at least the booze selection is terrible. What more do you want in a neighbourhood last call?

The Independent is about baseball. If you have any questions, opinions, suggestions, or if you just want me to pass along a note to Shaw-TV’s Jim Toth on why Cutler has set the Bears back a decade, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them along to adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca.

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