Les Grobstein passes away

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(excerpted from Robert Feder’s column)

Les Grobstein, a hometown original whose career as a Chicago radio sportscaster spanned more than 50 years, was known as a hard-working reporter with a phenomenal memory and a loyal following among night owls.

He was found dead Sunday afternoon at his home in Elk Grove Village, according to Mitch Rosen, operations director of WSCR 670-AM, the Audacy sports/talk station where Grobstein hosted overnights. He was 69.

Grobstein had been out sick since Wednesday, Rosen said. No other details were immediately available.

A Chicago native and graduate of Von Steuben High School and Columbia College, Grobstein began his career as color commentator for Northwestern basketball — calling his first game on December 29, 1970 — and later worked as an announcer for several sports teams and as a reporter for Sportsphone Chicago.

During his 10-year run as sports director of WLS 890-AM (where he became a favorite foil of Larry Lujack, Steve Dahl and Fred Winston), Grobstein captured for posterity an infamous locker-room tirade by Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia in 1983. He also worked for the original sports/talk incarnation of WMVP 1000-AM from 1991 to 1997.

Later that year Grobstein joined The Score for the first time as a host and reporter. After three years away, he returned to the station as weeknight overnight host in 2009.

“It’s been quite a run for Chicago’s human sports almanac, who has been almost a Zelig in Chicago sports over the last half-century,” wrote The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg in a 50th anniversary tribute to Grobstein’s career in 2020.

“From starting as a Northwestern radio man to taping the most famous rant in baseball history to defending Jim McMahon’s honor during Super Bowl week, Grobstein is part of Chicago sports lore. The Grobber, as he’s known, likes to say, ‘I was there’ and he almost always was.”

Chicago media colleagues share fond memories of ‘The Grobber’ →

Editor’s note: there was a wonderful story about Les in The Chicago Reader in 1997