I saw my first professional baseball game at Wrigley Field in the summer of 1956 – or maybe it was '55...or '57 – in any case, it was sometime in the mid 50's. Ernie Banks was a newcomer, having joined the team in 1953 after playing professional baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs. Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Ferguson Jenkins were teenagers still in high school. Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux hadn't been born yet.
I watched games after school. I got on the 'el' after high school and rode to Wrigley. I followed the team in the newspaper when I didn't have TV or radio access. I joined the Die-Hard Cubs Fan Club in the 80s...and the Cubs Club when the former morphed into the latter.
Here, then, are some random thoughts on an occasion I always hoped to see. The Cubs have won the National League Pennant. "Next year" is now.
- In 1969 I was in college and only followed the Cubs in the newspaper (IDS). There were TVs in the dorm (I even had a roommate with a TV for a while), but that was before cable or satellite and WGN didn't broadcast to Bloomington, Indiana. I'm glad I didn't see that season on TV or in person. It was too painful.
- My dad saw (or more likely listened to) the Cubs win the National League in 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, but never saw a World Championship. I was born three years after the Cubs' last trip to the World Series.
- All the years the Cubs were in the post season for the National league pennant...and came up short...1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015..."Wait till next year!"
- "So the Cubs haven't won a pennant in nearly forty years. Why not look at it this way? Take it in terms of eternity. That's not even a fly speck. Just tell yourself that sometime in the next thousand years the Cubs will get their share of the pie." – Jack Brickhouse*
- Since 1876, and before 2016, the Cubs have won two World Series, sixteen National League pennants, and six division championships. The last pennant win (until last night) was 1945. The last World Series win was 1908.
- Hey! Peanuts! Cubs peanuts here!
- "I have always been an optimist and even though sometimes you lose more than you win with that type of attitude, still and all there are enough great moments, thrills and excitement to make it all beautiful. You know that tomorrow will be a better day." – Jack Brickhouse*
- When Dexter Fowler walks to the plate in the top of the first inning in Cleveland on Tuesday, October 25, he will be the first African-American in a Cubs uniform ever to play in a World Series.
- For decades I've said that all I want is a National League Pennant...even if they lost in the World Series. Now that the Cubs have finally won a National League Pennant, a World Series win would be nice...
- Baseball is the perfect metaphor for life. Some teams, often those with the most money, win more times than others. But money doesn't always buy success just like money doesn't buy happiness. For that, you have to rely on family and friends (teamwork), hard work, a positive attitude, and some luck. Getting knocked down doesn't make one weak. Strength is better measured by the ability to get up after being knocked down. Courage is not the opposite of fear...it is being afraid, yet still persevering in the face of certain defeat. A hero isn't the one who wins the game, but the one who keeps swinging till the final out.
"Don't let anyone say that it's just a game
For I've seen other teams and it's never the same
When you're born in Chicago you're blessed and you're healed
The first time you walk into Wrigley Field
...Someday we'll go all the way, yeah, someday we'll go all the way" – Eddie Vedder
- Perseverance. Perseverance. Perseverance.
- "Cub fans will take winning in stride. With enthusiasm, with tears of joy, perhaps, but in stride...When it happens you will find us, like our ancestors in 1908, sensitive enough to know how to be humble in the face of a miracle." – Jim Langford*
THE TWO GREATEST CUB FANS IN HISTORY
I wish you could have been here to see this...
*from The Cub Fan's Guide to Life by Jim Langford.