Sportswriter John ‘Moon’ Mullin dies after cancer bout

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital got a little less busy Sunday.

John “Moon” Mullin, who covered the Bears for decades and this month set local records for hospital visitors as he fought the ravages of Stage IV pancreatic cancer, died Sunday at age 74.

Quick with a smile and a story, Mullin’s interests stretched far beyond — and were often more compelling — the team he covered. With white hair and a matching beard, he looked like Ernest Hemingway. He played guitar. He was a hardcore cyclist, finishing his rides as the sun rose. As it set, he liked a glass of good red wine.

After he checked into the hospital in worsening health earlier this month, Mullin received wave after wave of visitors. Receptionists at the hospital told Mullin’s family they’d never handed out so many name tags to go visit one patient. By the end of last week, he was limited to only two visitors at a time for 20-minute periods. Those who visited him waited their turn, tagging in as though they were swinging over the boards for a hockey shift.

It made sense. Mullin worked with practically everyone in Chicago, beginning at the Daily Herald before joining the Tribune in 1998 and Comcast Sports Net Chicago in 2009. He taught communications classes at DePaul.

Mullin was active until last month. With wife Carolyn, he visited his sister in Naples, Fla., in January and went to see other family members in Hilton Head, S.C., in April. His treatment became less effective in May, prompting hospital visits.

Mullin, whose nickname was derivative of a longtime comic strip character, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in fall 2019. He lived more than two years longer than his original prognosis, a credit to years of bicycle riding and a devotion to positive thinking. His strength from the former helped even as cancer spread to his lungs; his emotional strength from the latter was invaluable, he said.

In December 2021, he began a series of YouTube videos called “Attitude Over Cancer.”

“The goal for a lot of us,” he said during the first episode, “is to keep this monster in a cave until they come up with a silver bullet to kill it.”

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