(MCT) — CHICAGO — Rick Hahn was like many 12-year-old boys growing up on the North Shore of Chicago. Yes, he was a Cubs fan — an avid, perhaps over-zealous, Cubs fan.
In fact, Hahn was so into the Cubs that he wrote then-general manager Dallas Green with his suggestions on how to turn the team into a winner.
“I wrote him twice and I got two (typed) letters back from him (personally signed),” Hahn says now.
“I wanted him to trade (Bill) Buckner and open up first base for Leon Durham,” Hahn said. “And another one was I didn’t want him to trade (closer) Lee Smith. Lee Smith was my guy. I didn’t want him traded.”
Of course, Green’s early 1980s team never became a winner, but Hahn has.
And he had to go to the South Side to do it, as assistant general manager of the 2005 World Series champions.
Of course, he has switched allegiances since then — especially with his new duties as White Sox general manager — and he pledged to Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that his Cubs-loving days have passed.
They have passed, haven’t they?
“Frankly, I view them as a competitor right now,” Hahn said. “When the time comes that they win a World Series, I grasp how special that will be for a lot of people — people who are friends who work over there, people I’ve known my whole life who spent their entire life rooting for them.
“So from that standpoint, I can appreciate how special that would be. But from a professional standpoint my job is to stall that date for as a long as possible, if it’s in control of the White Sox to do so.”
Of course, sons Jacob and Charlie have grown up Sox fans because “that’s what they’ve been around their whole life, that’s what they know.”
In the not-so-distant future, maybe Jacob and Charlie can suggest trades to their father.
One of the suggestions might even be an intra-city trade with the Cubs, which Hahn says he would not shy away from even though his new position and old loyalties create a unique situation.
That has become a very rare occurrence in recent years. The last trade between the North and South sides was a swap of relievers Neal Cotts and David Aardsma in winter 2006.
Before that it was a 1998 swap of Cubs’ reliever Matt Karchner for former No. 1 Cubs pick Jon Garland, who was a starter for the ‘05 champions.
And before that it was Sammy Sosa for George Bell. But that was 20 years ago.
“I think a lot of the reason we haven’t done trades over the years was because we were in similar spots in the competitive cycle — we were both trying to win that year,” Hahn said. “We talked with them some last year (at the July 31 deadline presumably about Ryan Dempster).”
Perhaps a larger reason for lack of crosstown trades is fear of criticism if one side becomes a clear loser. And, for Hahn, that would make it doubly tough, at least if he were the loser, just because of perception.
“Maybe I’m underestimating that element,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t view it as more cumbersome or having more pitfalls or land mines than any other club. Maybe I’m being naive.”
Most likely he is, given his father’s penchant for listening to sports radio.
With Hahn new at his job and with Cubs’ bosses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer dumping salaries and veterans, you would think the two sides have talked this offseason.
“I don’t think we’re in the same spot right now,” Hahn said. “But we have a good enough relationship that if either one of us said what about this-for-that, we’d be able to respond fairly quickly. I’m just not sure there’s a fit right now.”
Of course, some 12-year-old may feel differently and propose something, as Hahn did years ago. Most likely Hahn would try to respond.
“I feel a little bit of an obligation now,” Hahn said. “Getting letters from (Green) makes me more conscious of it, knowing somebody took the time to write a letter to me.”