Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

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I would like to start with an apology to those loyal faithful fans of the Cleveland Indians. They played their hearts out. If any of a dozen balls had bounced a little differently, I wouldn’t be writing this. But the Cubs did win, and I’m happy for them and for my old home town of Chicago. It still amazes me that my dad will turn 96 later this month, and, in his lifetime, this is the first time they have won the series.

This was a nice break from one of the dirtiest presidential campaigns in American history. I am proud to be an American, but disappointed in both of our major candidates. However, Donald’s slogan made me think. “When was America really great?” For me, that would have to be 1969. Why, you might ask. It was because of the Cubs of course! That was the year they were destined to win it all.

Being from the south side of Chicago, I was a diehard White Sox fan, but it was obvious from the start they were going nowhere. The Cubs, on the other hand, started the season winning eleven out of their first twelve games and were due, heck, overdue!  With one of the most compelling lineups in the history of the game including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson JenkinsRon Santo, and Billy Williams, they were the team of destiny. On August 19th, they led their division by 8 1/2 games. What followed was one of the most indescribably painful collapses in baseball history. In the end, they wound up 8 full games behind the team, now known as, the Miracle Mets.

I suffered right along with them. I remember that summer, walking everywhere with a little transistor radio glued to my ear. Even when I played my sandlot baseball, if the cubs were playing, the radio was right by my side. Occasionally, I had to field a ball to protect it. By the way, in case you were wondering, yes I was pretty good. At fifteen, I too dreamt of the day when I would play for the Sox. I would play for ten years, raking in an excess of $25,000 a year and be set for life.

But baseball aside, truly this was a time of America’s greatness. It had been six years since Kennedy had been assassinated. So that scar had almost healed. Of course it had been only a year since his brother Bobby Kennedy (then running for President) had been killed, and the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  That was not so great. Still, President Kennedy’s cold war inspired dream of beating Russia in putting a man on the moon had happened. The pride was back.

Housewives and mothers were, for the most part, still in their homes. Neighborhoods were safer because of it. And then there were girls! At fifteen, I was alive at the right time. Long straight hair and miniskirts made life a little more fun. Even our future was assured. The women of Star Trek showed that to be true. I wonder how many outtakes there were when Yeoman Janice Rand or Lieutenant Uhura bent over wearing those short skirt uniforms.

Of course, in 1969 AfroAmericans (before they were blacks) were rioting. I never understood that. Here they were living in the land of opportunity. They had been free to enjoy all of the country’s privileges for over 100 years (ironically the same amount of time it took the Cubs to win). They were on TV, and in sports. Of course, living in the all white community of Oak Lawn, I had never actually met an AfroAmerican. Oh, I had seen them. Several worked in the Branding Iron Restaurant. They made the best spare ribs I had ever eaten. Surely the problem was just some giant misunderstanding.

Speaking of misunderstanding, this was also the height of the Viet Nam war. What was the big deal? We were America, so we had to be right. Nobody wanted the Commies to be on our doorsteps or under our beds. Besides, we always won our wars. A bunch of hippies didn’t agree. Of course, the girl hippies were cute, rocking out with flowers in their hair. OK, and the music was the greatest ever. Still, most of it didn’t say a lot of great things about our country.

I guess, when you look at it objectively, it makes you wonder, outside of baseball again becoming our national pastime, to what “great America” are we trying to return? On the eve of this critical election, please remember the words of the immortal long time mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daily. ‘All “yous guys” should vote early and often’ (yes he actually talked like that).


Lisa and my dad at a White Sox Game (not Cubs) in 2012.

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