Jack Brickhouse was my surrogate grandfather from 1975 to 1981. He’s the reason why I turned away from the Cardinals, which was no small thing for a young boy living in the Cardinals’ town of Springfield, Illinois.
And as I got older, and the Cubs replaced the mild-mannered Jack with the more bombastic Harry Caray in 1982, the Cubs have always been with me:
When my first “real” job made me miss watching the now-legendary “Sandberg Game” in 1984, I made sure my little brother gave me all the details later on that night.
When I was in college in the late 1980s, I routinely planned my springtime courses so that my afternoons were always free.
On the night that the Cubs turned on the lights–8/8/88–I met a co-ed who later became my wife. We were married on 8/8/92.
When we bought a condo on Kenmore Avenue in 1996, I would tell people that if Sammy Sosa finally hit the ball a mile, it would land in my front yard.
When Jack Brickhouse died in 1998–a few months after Harry Caray did–I went to his spot on the Cubs’ “Walk of Fame” outside of Wrigley Field to pay my respects. I lit a candle, placed a blue flower on his plaque, and thanked him for what he had done. It was a moment I won’t forget.
Following the Cubs for practically my whole life has not been easy. I don’t know what salt in the wounds feels like, but it can’t be any worse than watching the White Sox and the Cardinals win the World Series in consecutive years. And watching every other team, except my own and the Expos/Nationals, make it to the World Series hasn’t been easy, either.
Despite all this, I’ve never reconsidered my loyalty to the Cubs. If they ever do win the World Series, I’ll go search out Jack Brickhouse (there’s now a statue of him on Michigan Avenue). And if I don’t live long enough to see that happen, all of my memories will have been enough.