Watching from afar has been Ely's one-time pitching coach, Brennan.
Brennan, 58, a former Lewis University All-American, knows what Ely must be thinking. Brennan enjoyed two "hometown" major league moments in 1982, during his second season of a five-year major league career.
A first-round draft pick (fourth overall) of the Cleveland Indians in 1974, Brennan, who grew up at 82nd and Racine and graduated from Leo High School, needed seven years to work his way up the Indians' minor league ladder. Along the way, he picked up a nickname in winter ball: "El Flamingo," for the momentary hesitation in his delivery, when he held his left leg waist high before throwing the ball sidearm.
On May 21, 1982, Brennan made a memorable first appearance at old Comiskey Park. Entering the game with two outs in the second inning, Brennan retired 12 straight Sox hitters before allowing a single to Tom Paciorek. The latter was then caught trying to steal second base and Brennan left the game.
"I was nervous when I went out there," Brennan said. "But I tried to block out who was batting and just focused on trying to throw strikes. It took everything in my power to throw strikes."
When the Indians came back to Chicago that August, Brennan was summoned from the bullpen in the sixth inning to face Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski and Carlton Fisk.
He struck out all three.
Before he retired, Brennan appeared in four games with the Sox in 1984 and 12 games with the Dodgers in 1985.
"I ended up living in 26 different cities and played baseball in six countries," he said. "Playing for Tommy Lasorda and wearing the Dodger blue was really special. Dodger Stadium is a beautiful place to play baseball. We had Hollywood stars at the games. You'd be sitting in the locker room and Don Rickles would walk in.
"I wasn't there very long, but the Dodgers treated me like a Hall of Famer."
After his playing career, Brennan became a youth pitching coach at numerous Southland facilities, a side job he still does today.
He even took time out to appear in the 1993 movie "Rookie of the Year." Brennan is the home-plate umpire in the final baseball scenes.
Brennan's first meeting with Jack Ely and his 8-year-old son, John, came when Brennan was teaching pitching at the old Grand Slam in Glenwood.
"I liked Tom's easygoing manner," Jack said. "He didn't scream or yell. We would see Tom every Saturday morning, whether he was in Glenwood, Lockport or Chicago. John learned a lot from Tom. I think we spent about $4,000 over the years, which has turned out to be a very good investment."
"Jack is extremely dedicated to his son," said Brennan, who has raised two children with his wife, Bridget. "He never got in the way of John's development. John has always had good mechanics and a strong follow-through coming off the mound. He hasn't had a sore arm and has been a winner at every level of baseball. He is a great competitor.
"I've always been impressed with John's work ethic," Brennan added. "After having a good year, he would then work twice as hard in the offseason. Mentally, he is very strong. He has a balanced attack of pitches, whether it's a fastball, curve or changeup. You must have a balance when pitching in the major leagues.
"I just tried to tell John and his father what they needed to do and know. I have a great deal of respect for what John has accomplished."
Thursday, Tom Brennan will be applauding from a distance.
Facta Non Verba!
Thomas Martin Brennan (born October 30, 1952 in Chicago, IL) is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball. He pitched from 1981-1985 for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Brennan was known for an unusual right-handed pitching delivery. From the set position, he would lift his left leg, bent at the knee, and hold it in the air for several seconds. Then, he would quickly uncoil into a side-arm, "submarine-style", delivery.
Born: October 30, 1952 (1952-10-30) (age 57)
Batted: Right Threw: Right
September 5, 1981 for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
May 27, 1985 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Earned run average 4.40
Cleveland Indians (1981-1983)
Chicago White Sox (1984)
Los Angeles Dodgers (1985)