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4th November 2016

Someday Is Today

Growing up in Chicago, we had a choice between two baseball teams which we could root for. The Chicago White Sox played on the Southside of the City around 35th Street and their stadium was called Kaminski Park. They primarily played their games at night. The Cubs played on the Northside at Wrigley Field, named after the famous family that owned the Wrigley's Gum company. Cub games were broadcast in the afternoon on a local television station at the time named WGN. WGN was a local Chicago-area station, but it's probably a part of your basic cable package now. (WGN was an acronym for World's Greatest Newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.)

Back in the day when I was coming up, there weren't any lights at Wrigley Field. They didn't install them until 1988. Subsequently, all of their games were played during the day. I started going to games back in the times of such Cubs' legends as Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. This was back in the days before Harry Caray was the announcer; back when a man named Jack Brickhouse called the games. Murder Slim Press

At the time, my family lived in a suburb that was close to O'Hare Airport. The planes would come in so low that they would sometimes shake the walls of our house, and it wasn't uncommon to occasionally experience a sonic boom from a plane that had broken the sound barrier. My dad was early in his career with Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railroad (EJ&E) and he went to college at night after work. Him and my mother were on their ascension financially, but there was still enough money to take me and Tracy (my sister) to Cubs games on the weekends occasionally (as well as Bear and Blackhawk games). I've often thought that we became Cub fans by default because there was no way that my mom was going to allow my father to take us down to the Southside at night (because we were so young). So we ended up going to The Friendly Confines -- which is Wrigley Field's nickname -- in the afternoon.

Going to the ballpark was a unique experience. The ushers wore uniforms that had the name of the company they worked for embroidered across the front of their hats - Andy Frain. When you'd walk down into the stands you could smell the freshly-cut grass. And if you sat in the Bleachers, you could smell the ivy that covered the back wall, and that is one of the signatures of Wrigley. There was a huge sign on the street out behind the ballpark that said TORCO and had a circle around it. And there were bars and apartment buildings where people would sit on the roof to watch the games. I remember the smell of hot dogs and draft beer. The vendors would have a rack of beers strapped around their neck that were in clear plastic cups. They had a call like a carnival barker that went, "Heyanybodywannabeeranybodywannabeerhere?"

Another thing that I remember about Wrigley was the organ that played during the game through the loud speakers, and how everybody would stand up in the middle of the 7th Inning for the "7th Inning Stretch" and sing, "Take Me Out To The Ballpark." The only thing that Harry Caray loved as much as the Cubbies was beer (both Budweiser and Old Style) and he would usually be well-lubricated by the 7th inning stretch, and it was reflected in his singing.

After the game was over and we were on our way home, I distinctly remember two things. The first is having a program from the game that I'd look at. It was the one that they gave us when we came into the park and it had pictures of the Cubs' players along with the roster that listed what position they were playing that day. It also had a section like a golf card where you could keep score. My dad would bring a pencil to the game and keep score and make notations of changes in the roster like he was the coach. It was just what people did back then. It was part of the Wrigley experience.

The other thing I remember about those rides home were laying in the back seat as the warm summer wind blew across me while I listened to my parents talk. They would talk about how "someday" the Cubs would finally be winners and the team to beat; how someday we'd win the World Series. They would use the word "we" when talking about the Cubs. Listen to any Cubs fan talk sometime, and you'll hear this too. The truth is that Cubs fans are more than just fans. We're family.

To be a Cubs fan was to know joy and hope, but it was also to know loss. The annual dream of "Someday" would begin in Spring training as Cubs fans of all ethnicities and income brackets would analyze our chance for the upcoming year. It may've been a cab driver talking to his fare about the strength of the outfield, or a waitress talking about pitching to one of her customers. It didn't matter who you were, what color you were, or where you were from, all Cubs fans are equals. These conversations would invariably end with, "This is gonna be our year!" And after the season ended, it would be, "We'll get there someday. Maybe next year will be our year." This happened Spring after Spring; Fall after Fall.

This was a ritual that had been going on since 1945, the last time that the Cubs went to The Show. This was the year that a guy named William Siannas who owned a bar of the Southside, and a billygoat named Murphy, was asked to leave Wrigley Field because Murphy stunk and people were complaining (he'd bought Murphy his own ticket). This was the year that the Curse of The Billygoat began. World War II was raging and there was a madman loose upon the earth whose was trying to take over the world as he bombed cities and burned people alive in ovens. We were playing the Detroit Tigers that year. We lost to them in Game 7. It would be 71 years until we played baseball in October again. 71 years of somedays.

Now it's 2016 and someday is finally here. The Cubs won the World Series in extra innings of Game 7 and beat a team that was tough, tenacious, talented, and who just couldn't seem to lose. The Cleveland Indians were worthy adversaries who played their hearts out. But it was time for the curse of the billygoat to end. It was OUR time. It was someday. In a final game watched by some 45 million people all over the world, the Cubs won the World Series. They made their family (and the City of Chicago) proud.

That night I laid in my bed still awake at 1 am because I was too excited to go to sleep. As I laid there, I pictured Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, my mom and dad, and millions of other Cubs fans, sitting up in box seats in The Big Stadium In The Sky. I pictured them jumping up and down and cheering and hugging each other as they celebrated the moment they'd been denied in their lifetime. I pictured them saying, "Finally! See, I told ya!"

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs. 2016 World Champions. Cubs Win!!!

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog