Cubs A Big Part Of Many Lives (PHOTOS)
I glanced at my phone today (Sunday, 10/23) and saw 4 unread text messages. A friend I've known since I was 9, who now lives in Texas, had sent the following messages:
- Woke up and cried again.
- Makes me miss my grandpa
- It reminded me of your dad. I miss him too.
- It's pretty crazy how much the Cubs are a part of our lives.
Yes, "crazy" is one way to subscribe it. Why does a team of wealthy grown men you don't know, playing a game meant for kids, mean so much? Well, let me try to explain.
My Dad took me to my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field on June 14, 1985. I still have foggy memories of that 11-10 loss to the rival Cardinals. I think I had gotten into the Cubs the previous year, at age 7, when they came oh-so-close to the World Series. Yes, 1984 provides my earliest Cubs memories. Ryne Sandberg, Jody Davis, Ron Cey, Rick Sutcliffe... I could probably still name about 20 guys from that team, but I don't want to bore you. Anyways, it didn't take long for me to experience Cubs disappointment. The '84 Cubs won the first two games of the best-of-five NLCS against the San Diego Padres. Needing just one more win, the Cubs lost three in a row.
My Dad would continue to take my sister and I to Wrigley many more times in our youth. I'd get excited seeing the skyline, Lake Michigan and, of course, Wrigley Field. The Cubs sprinkled in a couple of playoff appearances in 1989 and 1998, but for the most part they were bad as I went from a boy to a teen to a young adult. 2003 rolled around and an amazingly enjoyable season quickly turned into the most pain I've ever felt as a Cubs fan. Yes, this was the year of Bartman. It's not his fault. Just like 1984, the Cubs had three chances to win a game to go the World Series. It was the Marlins spoiling the celebration this time. Witnessing this letdown in my mid-twenties was much more difficult than when I was 7. I was now old enough to know the context. This team hadn't won the World Series since 1908. They hadn't appeared in a World Series since 1945. The curse. The goat. Fans living their entire life without seeing the Cubs go to a World Series.
My Dad died in December 2015 at the age of 80. So yes, he was alive when they last appeared in a World Series, but I'm guessing they weren't on his radar. He was a youngster from a poor family in rural Jackson County, Iowa. '45 was a year that saw the death of Adolf Hitler and the end of World War II... I don't think the "Cubbies" mattered much. I think his fandom really began with me. When I got into baseball and the Cubs as a youngster, it was something that we shared as father and son. Great moments - watching the games on TV, playing our own games of catch in the backyard, the aforementioned trips to Wrigley... special.
Yes, my Dad was in my thoughts on Saturday night (10/22) as I watched the Cubs make history. But it was all good... I watched with a friend I've known since middle school and his folks, who have always been tremendous to me. Late in the game, text messages started popping up from my old school buddies... they were feeling the same emotions, anxiety, excitement. Realizing that there are SO MANY stories like mine is hard to grasp. If you look at it rationally, it's just a bunch of overpaid athletes that you don't know playing a kids game. But it is indeed crazy how this team is such a big part of so many people's lives.