A lifetime of following the Cubs

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I recently had an opportunity to take in a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and Wrigley Field at the same time. I enjoyed them all, but the one shot that I wanted to have with me in it was the Wrigley Field vista. That speaks volumes as to who I am, really.

I started following the Cubs by watching their games on WGN, Channel 9 in Chicago. The first time I tuned in was late in the 1975 season, when I was seven years old. And now, almost forty years later, I realize that it has been a large part of my identity over the years and decades. There aren’t too many things in life that are more deeply-seated than my attachment to the Cubs.

And they’ve disappointed me in so many ways over the years. Losing is the most obvious way, which forces me to watch while baseball’s other teams taste success instead. And even when they win, it’s just a prelude to more losing in the end.

After so many years and so many disappointments, I am, quite frankly, embittered. I have no faith in the rebuilding process that has been going on since 2012. I don’t think it will pay off with the championship that I and other Cubs fans are craving, at least not in my lifetime. And if it happens after I’m gone, what’s the point?

I don’t have any terminal diseases that I know off, and it’s not like I’m expecting to die anytime soon. That’s not the motivation for writing this. It’s just that every season should be treated as though it will be the last because for many fans, that’s exactly what it is.

A Cubs fan just like me will probably die over the next week. I won’t know who it is, but they’ll be a victim of this process of a still unknown duration. The younger men than I am who run this team can afford to take the long view of the process. The rest of us–who just want to see it once before we pass from this earth–don’t have that luxury.

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2 thoughts on “A lifetime of following the Cubs

  1. Howdy fellow Cubs fan… if you think you have had heartaches following the Cubs,let me tell you about the PROMISE and the PROMISED LAND. The Cubs getting into a World Series. I grew up in Chicago and my introduction to the Cubs came via a great Cubs fan,my Dad! He used to pick up pop and beer bottles at the old West Side ballpark to get free tickets and actually got to see Tinkers,to Evers to Chance. And was around the year the Cubs won their last W.S. Championship in 1908. When I was an 8 years old kid,and just returned from a summer camp in mid August of 1945. To celebrate the end of WW ll,my Dad gave me a J.C.Higgins baseball mitt(Sears brand) and my first 2 wheel Schwinn bike and a crash course in Baseball 101,Cubs History and a special chapter on Hank Greenberg because we are Jewish. Then he took me to my first game at beautiful Wrigley Field. He taught me how to keep a score card and baseball became the official language at our kitchen table. A short time later when the Cubs clinched the N.L. flag, I asked him to take me to the World series. He felt I was too young… but he gave me a PROMISE, he would take me the next time!

    In 1946, I too started to clean up the ballpark after a game and got free a free ticket to the next game. (I did that for the next 5 years) I remember just before returning to school,as we were cleaning up the grandstands, the kid next to me looked up at the 1945 N.L.Pennant flying from the left Field flag pole and saying something I had never heard before…”WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!

    In ’47, my dad took me to the opener between the Pirates and the Cubs. Hank Greenberg was playing in his 1st N.L. game and I had mixed emotions when his 6th inning double drove in the games only run. A month later,along with 47,000 other fans I was on hand for Jackie Robinson making his Chicago debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The one thing that stood out was that most of the fans brought binoculars to get a closer look at the future Hall of Famer.

    I started to hang out to watch sports at the neighborhood tavern because they had a tv set. When my dad heard of my new pastime… he went out and bought the 1st tv in Albany Park that was not in a tavern. Chicago had only 1 tv station-WBKB-4. soon all the kids in our neighborhood was coming to our house.

    In ’48 I watched WGN-TV go on the air and the first game they ever televised. I watched the 1st World series televised that year… but it didn’t include the Cubs that year and every years since.

    I moved to San Francisco in 1960 and when ever the Cubs played the Giants,I was there. I came back every summer and always when the Cubs were playing their longest home stand. In 1981 I was involved in the S.F. production of the stage play “Bleacher Bums” as their publicist. It was a 6 week run that ran for over a year. I got the moniker as the Bay Area Resident Cubs Fan. When Jack Brickhouse announced he was making his last road trip, I talked the Giants into having “Bleacher Bum Sunday” and created the Hey! Hey! Award to give to Jack and former Cubs great Hank Sauer, and handled the microphone in front of 16,000 fans.

    In ’84,the Cubs opened in S.F. and that looked like the year that the PROMISE my Dad made me was going to happen. But be that as it was… it didn’t. However I won a law suit and had a few dollars and spent ’85 season in Wrigley. I was a guest on Harry Caray’s 10th Inning Show and he introduced me as John Q. Public the fan! I moved back to Chicago and for the next 25 years became a fixture in and around the Friendly Confines as the “Bleacher Preacher”… and every season I thought this was going to be the year. Today, I am 78 years old… and I have been priced out of the cheap seats because they are not cheap anymore. I have developed a Moses complex… Moses never made it to the PROMISED LAND and I am afraid that’s going to happen to me too. However HOW DO I SPELL BELIEF? C-U-B-S-!

    • Hi Jerry,

      Many thanks for sharing your story. They sustain us all as Cubs fans, in a way that winning never could. But I still want to win, and I hope we’ll both get to see it THIS YEAR, because who knows how many more years any of us has left? All I know is that the tanking of the past three years won’t be tolerated any more.

      All the best to you.

      Rob

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