I won’t bore you with the now old news that the Chicago Cubs broke a 108 year curse to win the World Series. I won’t rehash the thrilling come from behind, game 7, extra innings, rain delayed victory. But what I will do is explain why this matters to an LA Girl who grew up in Small Town, Oklahoma.
Playing ball, sitting in the bleachers watching my brother play 1st base, working the concession stands to raise money for our small town little league, scarfing down hot dogs and peanut patties, chewing 3 Super Bubbles at a time while handing out gum from a wrinkled, dingy brown lunch bag in the dugout…these are the memories of hot sunny afternoons and temperate dusky evenings in the late 70s and early 80s.
Abner Doubleday’s invention is encoded deep inside of my DNA. Even when I haven’t been to a game in a long while (which happens more often than I’d like), then I go to one and it’s like I’ve never been away (which needs to happen more often). Enjoying a pitchers’ duel or looking for where the force out is–it’s part of the thrill of the game. Whether I’m watching my university alma mater’s teams vie for College World Series titles on TV (my Sooner Ladies won the WCWS this past spring) or catching a local game (Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium are within driving distance), I connect with baseball on a visceral level. I may not be the rabid fan who wears jerseys everyday or carries my phone with the MLB app open at all times, but so many of my good memories conjoin with baseball.
So how do the Cubs fit into all of this?
In the late 70s, cable TV was new and all the rage. My friend had it and we didn’t. I spent a lot of time at her house for a few years. Then my parents got on board and signed us up for the 13 channels plus HBO and The Movie Channel. My brother and I were on cloud nine. Two of the channels were super channels TBS out of Atlanta and WGN out of Chicago. So despite living only three hours north of Arlington, Texas, we watched the Chicago Cubs instead of our neighboring Texas Rangers. Both the Cubs and Atlanta Braves were more accessible to us because of cable TV. My grandmother loved the Braves, and we loved the Cubs. Names that bring back fond memories for me include Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Keith Moreland, and Shawn Dunston. My brother was such a big fan of Sandberg’s that he adopted the number 23 on his own baseball jersey for a number of years.
(Ryne Sandberg, Cubs 2nd baseman, Hall of Fame Class of 2005)
A highlight of my college years was catching an exhibition game between the Rangers and the Cubs in Oklahoma City. Nothing beats sitting in the stands with a bag of peanuts and cheering future Hall of Famers (Sandberg for the Cubs, Nolan Ryan for the Rangers). An even bigger thrill for me was realizing my dream to attend a Cubs home game at Wrigley Field and do the 7th inning stretch with Harry Caray and watch Sandberg one last time (and catch Sammy Sosa in action too). Back then it was a pilgrimage for me. Nowadays, I just look for when the Cubs visit my hometown teams, the LA Dodgers and Anaheim Angels, for an occasional evening of fun.
I know that people may consider me a fair weather fan or just jumping on the bandwagon, but what they don’t know is that I jumped on that bandwagon in middle school. And it probably doesn’t matter even if I am fair weather. That doesn’t mean the love and memories attached to the Cubs and the game of baseball aren’t hidden in the recesses of my mind and spirit.
So today I wave that white Win Flag to celebrate the many years of memories supplied by the Cubs (and their eternal quest to break the curse). Congratulations on a great season. Well played, Gentlemen!