So I thought for my first post I would introduce myself and try to explain how someone from a family of generations of Cincinnati Reds fans becomes a Cubs fan. It’s pretty simple actually. The magic of TV and support from the best woman I have ever known.
When I was a kid growing up in north central Indiana, my summer days started with a bowl of cereal while reading a comic book. Hey I still do that. Anyway, I would then wait for my brother and neighborhood friends to gather. We all lived within a couple of blocks of each other, and I was just a half a block away from Front Street Park. That’s where we played baseball. We all had our own bats, and we all lost a lot of baseballs to the river that ran alongside the park. I even had a Sandlot-like incident long before that movie was even thought of.
Now it wasn’t as epic as a Babe Ruth ball, but my dad worked for the local cable company. They had just added TBS to their lineup (am I dating myself here?) and they sent dad a gift. Of course being the flagship of the Atlanta Braves, it was an autographed Hank Aaron ball right? Not exactly. It was a ball, and it was autographed. By then Braves manager Joe Torre. Keep in mind at that time Torre was not the Yankees legend he is now. He was a then two-time loser with the Mets and the Braves. He would of course go on to lose again in St. Louis before the Yankees money made him a Hall of Famer. That ball sat in a closet in a box for a long time. dad gave it to me, I didn’t steal it or anything. Finally, we needed a ball, and after all, this was an official Major League ball. And the the final rational was “hey it’s not like we actually met him.” That ball is probably somewhere on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico right now. The Eel River it went into empties into the Wabash, which empties into the Ohio river, which connects with the Mighty Mississippi. Or it might still be on the bottom of the Eel. Who knows?
After playing baseball all morning, it was home for lunch, which usually was my mom heating up Spaghetti-Os on the stove (no microwaves yet) or maybe just a sandwich. But it all stopped at 1:20 pm when the Cubs came on WGN. There’s that magic of television. Now for the woman.
As I stated, my family is all Reds fans. My brother, my dad, my grandfather, my great-grandfather. You get the idea. But there was my grandmother. Always the diplomat, since I liked the Cubs, she liked the Cubs too, along with the Reds. It really wasn’t a lot of fun for me in those days, being hay day of the Big Red Machine and all. And the Cubs being, well, the Cubs. I was bout to see my first live game though.
My grandparents took me to riverfront Stadium to see the Reds play the Cubs. I was probably 6 or 7, so I was worried about rooting for the Cubs in enemy territory. It was my grandma that told me it was OK. I could root for anybody I wanted. And I did. And the Cubs lost. Shocker! All I really remember is that Steve Stone started for the Cubs. The next step would be making it to Wrigley Field.
I went to Catholic school and yes, I was an alter boy. No jokes, please. We actually were called servers, and no the priest never did anything inappropriate. In fact, he was a big Cubs fan, and his reward for us servers was taking us to a Cubs game at Wrigley. Awesome. And it would have been awesome. Had we gone. This was the year the players were on strike, 1981. So Father Dick (yes that was his name, no he still didn’t do anything bad) took us all to King’s Island instead. It was fun and all, but not what I had been looking forward to. The next year there were two trips, You could choose to go to Wrigley or back to King’s Island. Of course I went to Wrigley. I remember 3 things about it. The Cubs played the Dodgers. They lost. And how bright green the grass was when I walked up the stairs and saw the field for the first time in person.
I think back and wonder if I might have wimped out and just followed the family tradition had it not been for grandma. She told me it was OK to be different. I guess I really took it to heart because I’m about as different as they come. But I remember sitting on my couch watching almost in disbelief as the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. I got texts from all of my family. The Reds fans. “Congratulations”. “You deserve it.” and the first person I thought of was Grandma. She had passed away long ago. I wished she could have seen it too. I felt like I might not be there if not for her.