Barry Rozner knows he has a sports fan's dream job. The Daily Herald columnist, Chicago radio host and book author has enjoyed a front-row seat to sports history. It's occurred to him as he sat at a table in Cooperstown with Hank Aaron, Billy Williams and Andre Dawson. Or during one of the many times he's walked 18 holes covering Tiger Woods. Or the first time he was in the same room as the Stanley Cup.
"I consider it an absolute privilege," he says.
That from a guy who's been around Chicago sports most of his life, starting as a vendor at Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park, Soldier Field and Chicago Stadium. That continuing weekend and summer income helped convince him to attend close-by NIU. His major went from business to computer science and finally to journalism - which was what he wanted to do all along.
"I had always heard there was no way to make a living in journalism," he says. "But I talked to my parents and they said I should do what I wanted to do."
That included getting a reporting job at the Northern Star. "Of anything I did at Northern, the time I spent at the Star was the most important," he says. "It was the foundation of my journalism skills. There was so much teaching that went on there."
Then, out of the blue, NIU athletic administrator and former football coach Jerry Ippoliti called Barry and offered him a chance to write, edit and produce Huskie Herald, an NIU sports magazine.
"It was a chance to write sports," he says. "There were no openings at the Star in sports and it didn't appear that there would be in the next year. So I took it. How my name was presented to him, to this day I do not know."
That work led to a part-time sports job after graduation at the Elgin Courier News, which in turn led to a sports job at the expanding Daily Herald in 1985. In late 1989 the Herald offered Barry the Chicago Cubs beat. He held that spot until 1997, when he took on the column that he continues writing today.
Along the way, Barry wrote books with Ryne Sandberg and Steve Stone, and even has quietly written a couple of Baseball Hall of Fame induction speeches.
"I work very hard," he says, "but I try to take a moment to remember how lucky I am. I'm sitting there at the Super Bowl as Devin Hester is returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. I'm getting paid to do that.
"It's all a wonderful gift. And it all started with the Northern Star."