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The Fading Ghosts of ’69

The Fading Ghosts of ’69

The place had emptied. The last hot dog wrapper of 2015 had drifted across the infield and made its exit out into the parking lot. A few wisps of vapor had lingered in the right field bleachers. If one listened closely one could almost hear the vapor speak.

“Same time next year fellas?”

“Yea, the usual.”

“I think next year is the last, next year.”

“What are you giving up?”

“Never, but next year we’ll be satisfied and we’ll move on.”

“Yea, I think you’re right. It feels different this time.”

“I saw that goat leave during the season.”

“Oh really, when?”

“It was just after a walk off win.”

“Which one? We had a bunch.”

“September 28, 2015.”

“The last one, against the Royals?”

“Yea. We didn’t know it then but the goat knew.”

“Knew what?”

“That we just took 2 out of 3 from a team bound for the World Series.”

“Yea but that was before we made the playoffs, before we beat St Louis to move to the NLCS.”

“Yea but at that point the goat knew that was a foregone conclusion and that his time was up.”

“I’m not going to miss that goat.”

“Me either, he stunk.”

“When does spring training start?”

“It’s just around the corner.”

Note: The Author is a lifelong Cub fan and they have broken his heart more times than the women in his life. He is still a diehard fan….of both.

Lovable Winners (Go Cubs Go)

Lovable Winners  (Go Cubs Go)

Sports teams are mostly remembered in the won-loss column. Whether it is fair or not is inconsequential. That is just how it is. Athletes are judged by similar guidelines. How good was the fielder? What was their batting average? How many yards from scrimmage did the running back accumulate? How many league rushing titles did they have? Unfortunately, the same kind of judgments made every day in the real world do not escape those of the sports arena.

Once in a while there is transcendence. Players of all qualities can win humanitarian awards. Sometimes when worlds collide, teams do the right thing.

The passing of Ernie Banks highlighted what he meant to the city and the neighborhoods of Chicago. The memories shared by friends and family highlighted his sunny disposition and revealed that yes he really was that happy.

His passing also highlighted the fact that he was human. In his twilight years he became estranged from his wife. When he passed, another women lay claim to his assets stating that Ernie gave them to her in a new will. The legal fight that ensued may or may not have threatened the last wishes of Mr. Cub.
In the skirmish, the funeral home that performed the burial services waited to get paid and in turn filed a claim against his estate. Many internet comments urged the Chicago Cubs to do the right thing. Perhaps I am foolhardy to believe otherwise but I do not believe some comments on the internet persuaded the Cubs to settle the matter. I think when the need presented itself they did not hesitate to settle the bill for the man who had given so much to the Cubs and the city of Chicago.

We all know the last time the Cubs won the world series was 1908 and most of us can calculate that it has been 106+ years since those games. We don’t need the math wizards behind the mikes to remind us of that every time there is a break in the action and the talk turns to the “lovable losers”. I for one do not put the Chicago Cubs in that category. Their recent play for Ernie in the game of life puts them in the all too lonely Lovable Winners category.

Go Cubs Go!

The Fading Echoes of ’69

The Fading Echoes of ’69

Most of my memories of the summer of 1969 are composed of the sounds of the crack of a bat and the calls of the Wrigley Field venders. I was a seven year old living on the Northwest side of Chicago. Naturally, I was* a Cub fan.

1969 is remembered as the one that got away from the Cubs. They were 9 games up in their division going into September before going on a disastrous road trip.

Some say they should have just thrown away their return tickets and kept on going.

1969 never got away from me. The bus extravaganzas my friends and I took to Wrigley. The contests to see who could eat the most 50 cent pizzas. The beautiful ‘lets play two’ days spent in the bleachers of the friendly confines are events deeply embedded in the joyous memories of my youth.

One by one the heroes of my youth are passing from this world but the joyous memories from that magical summer only gain strength.

The voice of Ron Santo no longer echoes the joy and sorrow of the days game on the radio but my mind continues to replay the image of his heal click celebration of another win.

The gorgeous summer days in Wrigley that inspires ones thoughts to “lets play two” will still occur with regularity but Ernie Banks, the author of that sentiment, will no longer express that desire. My soul however will continue to do just that.

The authors of that wonderful summer in Chicago may pass but the chapter they wrote will continue to contain memories that live in my heart until I too fade into echoes.

My sincere thanks to Ernie and Ron for being a wonderful part of my childhood.

*I only use the term ‘was’ because of grammatical correctness. Outside the realm of grammar the past tense of ‘to be’ does not make sense when paired with any form of the term ‘Cub fan’.

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