Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicago Baseball and Heartache

As Chicago marches towards October, baseball fans from both the north and south sides of the city will be packing up their World Series' dreams for another season.  Baseball has a long and storied past here in the Second City, but that's never been the leading narrative.  Instead, it has been the complete and utter incivility between White Sox and Cubs fans that has driven this town's baseball story.  It's like the Hatfields vs. the McCoys but with broader shoulders and less bootlegging.

I grew up a Cubs fan because my favorite grandfather used to let me eat endless amounts of candy-corn in a distracted state while he watched the games on WGN.  I would also visit Wrigley with my father, sit amongst the fabled ivy, and watch my heroes Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe do little to secure a post-season.  But it was still great fun.

When I married my husband, my being a Cubs fan was a deal-breaker.  I had to convert.  Renounce my Cubs' ties and swear eternal allegiance to the White Sox.  I think a bible may have been involved.   My husband takes this stuff pretty seriously.

To me, it didn't matter much.  I am that rare fan that likes all things Chicago.  Cubs.  Sox.  Hawks.  Bears.  Bulls.  If Chicago is in the name, I'm a supporter.  So adopting a new southside team was fine by me - I had fond memories of great players like Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines anyway.

Yet the earth stood still this summer when I found my husband doing the impossible.  Our middle son, Jack, had expressed an interest in seeing Wrigley.  To my complete and utter shock, Joe agreed to do a "walk-by" for his 6-year-old son.  I took some pictures to convey the overall sentiment: 

Real mature, guys.

Joey hanging on the Harry Caray statue.

I know it's falling apart, but it still makes me nostalgic.

As the men in my life continued to check out the grounds, I grew fascinated by the personalized bricks purchased by Cubs fans to commemorate their long-suffering devotion:

I was moved by the bricks, and that's when I remembered driving past Holy Sepulchre cemetery shortly after the White Sox won the World Series in 2005.  There were hundreds and hundreds of White Sox floral arrangements on the graves all over the cemetery.  Sons and daughters remembered those special games with their dads and just wanted to let them know how important it was to them. And that finally...finally...their team had won it all.

It makes me think of my own grandpa, who loved the Cubs more than anything.   I dream of a day where I, too, can order up a big Cubs logo for his grave and deliver the good news under a shady tree at Holy Sepulchre. 

Cubs and Sox fans really aren't so different after all. 


  1. Oh how Papa would have loved this. Tell Walsh to take his goat and go home. We don't like his kind on Sheffield. But we'll keep the cute kids and that middle child of yours...what a good head on his shoulders. Perhaps Papa's legacy was two great-grandchildren named Jack who will carry on his legacy of love for his sweet Cubbies.



  2. I thought I was reading a story of my life. I too had to convert in order to get my wedding ring. Although once (only once) did I get Tim to attend a day at Wrigley. He complained the whole time especially because we sat on a railing for "standing room only" and had to park in a car wash. I soon converted because I had much more fun bargeing in on Tim and his fellow season ticket holders (your husband included!)

  3. Robyn - becoming a late-in-life Sox fan has had its benefits! Paul Konerko is so my boyfriend.