I was going to write about what it means to be a Cub fan, but I don't think I can fully capture in in words. And if I came close I think the only people who would get it would be other Cub fans.
I'm going to the first two games of the series against the Dodgers this week. On Wednesday I'm driving up to Wilmette to stay with my folks. Maggie is coming along for the ride as her schedule is much harder for Mary to coordinate around than it is for the other girls who are in school all day. My parents are graciously going to play with their youngest granddaughter while I play at Wrigley. I'm looking forward to the car ride with Mag. She's a hoot and we'll have fun on our nine hour tour to Chicagoland.
I won an online auction to get one seat in the right field bleachers for Wednesday. On Thursday I'm going with brother Brian and sitting in seats my sister is letting us have. Over these two days I know I'll be reminiscing about my past experiences at Wrigley with friends and family.
There are so many memories to share since we had season tickets since I can recall. What follows next is something I cannot control. It's a ramble of thoughts that jump into my mind when I think of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. It's the best I can do to convey what it means to me to be a fan. If you get it, you get it. If you don't, well I'm sorry. Here it goes:
The first set of seats my folks had were somewhere around the 8-10th row behind home plate. They were such choice seats that you could call the pitch before the ump hollered out. And these were in the days before they changed the net and a ball fouled directly back would roll up and down over your head on the much worn net to the sound of someone playing a slide whistle.
There was the hassling of opposing players "Hey! Your a hot dog Montenez! Montenez, you're a hot dog!"
And the players and coaches I knew and loved (and sometimes hated) who made those teams mine:
Bill Madlock, Mike Kelleher, Steve Ontiveros, Manny Trillo, Herman Franks Larry Bittner, Rick and Steve Reuschel, Steve Stone, Mike Krukow, Bill Buckner, Bobby Murcer, Ivan DeJesus, Bruce Sutter, Dave Kingman, Ron Cey, Dick Tidrow, Leon Durham, Bobby Dernier, Rick Sutcliffe, Keith Moreland, Jody Davis, Ryne Sandberg, Shawn Dunston, Mark Grace, Andre Dawson, Sammy Sosa and every other player who ever wore the blue pinstripes.
The time my dirty yellow hat was picked out of the crowd by Arnie Harris. Thanks Arnie for my fifteen!
The first time I went to a game on my own with my best friend John Stutz. I think we were in third grade and had to convince both sets of parents that we could do it. I knew the "L" stops by heart. On at Wilmette, switch at Howard, off at Addison. And make sure to save money for the trip home.
The time when the Cubs made the playoffs in '84 and my mother wrote a note for me to be absent from school because "Dan's grandmother is being buried at Wrigley Field today." Then going to the game and watch Ernie do a trick "throw" to home plate for the opening toss (he held on to the throw and flipped it over his back to home plate), listen to Jimmy Buffet sing the National Anthem and then watch Rick Sutcliffe hit a run home run as he pitched the Cubs to a 13-0 victory in game one over the Padres.
Or the time when John was grounded and we sneaked out to a game, only to be on tv during game highlights on the news that night.
Or sitting with my mom and having the men around us ask her how she scored a play on her scorecard. She taught me well.
Or sitting with my sister in the stands and realizing that title of biggest Cubs fan in the family might just need to go to her.
Being old enough to have an Old Style at the game. And then getting a better beer the next time.
Remembering when all hotdogs came with mustard already in the bun. And then learning the secret of how to roll the dog in the bun to spread the mustard around.
Sitting in Stutz's basement singing along to "Hey! Hey! Holy Mackerel! No doubt about it!" on his record player.
Learning to eat peanuts in the shell.
Clark, Addison, Sheffield and Waveland.
Sitting in the right field bleachers shouting "left field sucks!"
Sitting in the left field bleachers shouting "right field sucks!"
Sitting in centerfield bleachers shouting "you both suck!"
Collecting paper cups and "popping" them on the ground.
The summer I was fifteen and was an Andy Frain usher at Wrigley. My uniform was so big it made me look like David Byrne. But I didn't care because I had a job at Wrigley.
When I sing "Take me out to the ballgame" I cannot help but sing "if the Cubs don't win it's a shame" no matter what ballpark I am at be it National League, American League or Minor League.
Being able to completely understand how Steve Goodman could write both "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" and "Go Cubs Go!".
And getting close to tears the first time I heard Ralph Covert sing "Baseball Dreams".
Not being able to root for the Mets or Cardinals to win even if it helps the Cubs playoff chances. Ever.
When Mary asked me why I couldn't just watch the games on television I didn't try to explain it all. I still don't think I could. And when she asked me what I would do if they made it to the World Series and I couldn't get a ticket? I said it doesn't matter. I don't need one to be able to feel like I am there. I know that place inside and out and know a part of me will be there in spirit to cheer on my Cubs.
But I just may need to make a trip to Clark and Addison to be outside while the games are going on. Just in case I might find that miracle ticket.