My Heroes

I’ve been a Cub fan ever since my cousin Leonard got me hooked on them in the fourth grade.

I guess calling myself a Cub “fan” is a bit of a stretch.  I discovered that yesterday when Sweetie and I went to our first Dodger game in twenty years, courtesy of Mikey and our daughter Nancy.  The first sign of my baseball ignorance was when I couldn’t find the infamous Manny Ramirez listed in the Dodgers’ starting line-up.  Turning to Nancy I said “where’s Ramirez?”  Looking at me with that “where have you been” expression, she said “you gotta keep up.”  It got worse.

The Cubs’ lineup, glaringly displayed on the three-mile-wide super electrified scoreboard, proclaimed the names of those who were about to take the field.  I recognized only one.  The rest were strangers.  I didn’t expect the likes of Stan Hack, but where was Ernie Banks when I needed him?  Had Hank Sauer gone the way of the Dodo?  Surely Roy Smalley was still flinging the ball from short-stop onto Addison Street.  Nope.  These guys were all strangers.  Except for one familiar thing.  They were losers…just like my old Cub heroes.

The next clue to my extended absence from the national pastime came when I dragged myself up the stairs to buy some eats.  Twelve dollars for a beer.  Not a six-pack.  One beer.  I skipped the brewski and headed for the Dodger Dogs.

Fifteen minutes in the “express line.”  Three dogs, two french fries, one Coke and a bottle of water.  Thirty-six dollars and seventy-five cents.  And I couldn’t get the mustard out of the machine.  I shuddered at the thought of dropping the load on my way back.

By the time I got to my seat, my faux-son-in-law Kevin had stripped most of the skin from his bleeding thumb scrambling for a two-dollar foul ball which he proudly displayed with his one good hand.  I had also missed a two-run Cub homer by some guy named Geovany Soto.  My heroes were ahead by three runs.   Only seven innings to go.  A Greek chorus ran through my head intoning “it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.”

Turning to Sweetie, who had nearly dehydrated from the sun and a stadium into which no fresh air is allowed, I said “seems to me there are a lot more foul balls than I remember.”  My most astute comment of the day generated a look that has been known to turn fools into pillars of salt.

I stared at the clock as the third inning mercifully ended.  One hour had passed.  How could that be?  I’ve been here for weeks.  Six innings to go.  Thirty-six outs.  My calculations led to an exit time of 4:15.  But what about extra innings.  I’ll expire in this seat and they’ll never notice.

The innings passed while the music blared from a center field mountain of the largest speakers I have ever seen.  Music that had no more place in the national pastime than a parade of Nazi storm troopers.  Beach balls bounced up and down in the stands while I waited for some clod to fall over the second deck railing.  The right field fans insisted on promoting the “wave” while a guy in a Captain Morgan Rum pirate suit threw dollar t-shirts to hysterical people who you woulda thought had nothing to wear other than the clothes on their backs.  The game went on in spite of the entertainment.

My Cubs did their best to let the Dodgers back into the game.  A couple of errors by some guy named Aramis Ramirez and an Alphonse and Gaston act by two other strangers contributed to my feeling of deja vu.  All the while, the Greek chorus sang on.

Sixth, seventh, eighth…finally, the ninth.  Ahead by five runs.  Ooops, make that four with two outs, men at the corners, heavy hitter up.  Am I doomed to reside in Hades forever more?  God, let there be light.  A little pop-up and it was over.  The fat lady had sung and I was happy.

Walking up the stadium stairs with my Cub hat perched high on my head, a guy looked at me and said “you musta brung those guys some luck.”   Sure did.  They’re my heroes.

8 Responses to “My Heroes”

  1. 1 judie July 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Leonard would never steer you wrong. Stick with them, eventually they’ll get it right. We have season night, weekend and holiday tickets in the upper boxes. Most of the time we walk the 41/2 miles to Wrigley and 8 ramps up. See what “real” Cubs fans will do!?! or, are we nuts. Don’t answer that. Even now I’m watching them play the Dodgers and it didn’t take long (1 inning) and we’re down 3-0. Can’t even say wait til next century – we’re in it!!


  2. 2 Sharon July 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I, too, am a Cubs fan. I started going there with my Bubby Celia. We would take the ‘el’ to Addison and sit in the sun. That’s the kind of Bubby she was. I started taking my little brothers there on the ‘el; started when they were probably about 8 years old. We would sit in the bleachers and wouldn’t leave until the game was over-no matter what the score was. My kids are Cub fans and now I have brainwashed my grandchildren-they, too, love the Cubs! That’s the kind of Bubbie I am!Wrigley Field is a wonderful place; not one of those mega ballparks that are all cold and steel. It is cozy and homey and I still get the chills when I go there. Maybe this year! GO CUBBIES!


  3. 3 robert July 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    well you got to see a rare win…last week my child friend and i decided to ride the “L” train to wrigley field…mecca for cub fans..after paying through the nose for tickets from some stranger hovering just off the tracks we entered the old ballpark and took our seats some 20 rows behind the cubs dugout…lots of fans even some sitting on the rooftops 1/4 mile away…must be real fans or else the cubs paid them to sit there…we were treated to a real pitchers duel for 6 innings then it happened…top 7th the reds scored 9 runs the first 3 without ever getting a hit and it got worse…after countless pitchers the half inning was over then cubs came up to bat and decided they had enough too so 1,2,3 outs in a few pitches and i thought maybe we should go so we dont have to pack ourselves like sardines into that train for the trip back to skokie…but my friend likes to stay to the end(he’s a sox fan like me)and since we had spent enough $$$ to pay for my first car i agreed to sit it out…final reds 12 cubs 0 …so now i needed to see a major league game so we went to the sox game the other night…great ballpark,great food with a fantastic place to eat at a table and still watch the game,reasonable prices and a team on the rise…well we won 8-2 , won all 8 games on our homestand including 4 straight against the the calif angels and finished the first half of the season in 1st palce…we were 10 games out just 25 days ago…maybe its time to root for the sox…you wouldnt be cheating on the cubs since were from chicago and are in a different league…besides your father was a sox fan…


  4. 4 Grampa George July 12, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Fred I emjoyed reading this, as I know how up to date you are on BaseBall. There was a Cub in the Ball Park the day you were there, and he was one of the Great Cubs of all time. do you know who does Playby play for Cubs? If you had looked up in Press, you would have seen Mr Cub (Ron Santo) behind the Mike for the Cubs. You could have written a whole Blog on him. Dodgers will win the West, as nobody in the West can beat them, but Dodgers can’t beat anybody in East. Take Care, George


    • 5 Sally July 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      Funny, I always thought that Ernie Banks was Mr. Cub.


      • 6 Grampa George July 12, 2010 at 8:15 pm

        I’m very aware that Ernie Banks was called Mr Cub. But over the last 30 years, who has done more good things for Cub Base Ball, then Ron Santo I bet that much of Chicago Fans would agree.


  5. 7 Irv Lucks July 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Loved your ode to the Cubbies. I had the chance to spend a week with Mr. Cub ,Ernie Banks,and Hall of Famer Billy Williams 20 years ago at Dodgers fantasy camp in Vero Beach. When I asked Ernie each morning how he was feeling, he would say “like a million after taxes!”
    Take care,


  6. 8 Kay August 10, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Sorry, not a Cubs or any other baseball club fan. Give me the Packers & football.


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