As a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, I find that I'm a little less excited about the team's chances for success in this year's post-season play than I was last year. How can this be? Well, a world championship for the Cubs was an impossible dream — until it finally happened. Another one […]
As a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, I find that I'm a little less excited about the team's chances for success in this year's post-season play than I was last year.
How can this be?
Well, a world championship for the Cubs was an impossible dream — until it finally happened. Another one would be nice, for sure, but it's no longer impossible. It no longer represents the crazy hope this loyal fan entertained for more than 65 years. A second successive world title would be almost anti-climactic.
I became a fan of the Cubs in 1952, when I was 9 years old. My favorite player back then was Hank Sauer, a 35-year-old left-fielder, who led the National League in home runs that year with 37. By the way, the second-best power hitter on the team was first-baseman Dee Fondy, who had only 10 dingers in that campaign.
We didn't have television at our house in those days, so my love of Major League Baseball was nurtured mainly by following the sport on radio and reading newspaper accounts of the Cubs' exploits.
My hometown of Freeport was in the Chicago radio market, leaving me the choice of listening to Bert Wilson do the play-by-play of Cubs games on WIND or Bob Elson describe the fortunes of the White Sox on WCFL.
Wilson was exciting and colorful, while Elson was exceedingly boring. Whether that was the deciding factor in my becoming a Cubs fan, I'm not really sure, but I wouldn't rule it out.
My first visit to Wrigley Field came on a bus trip sponsored by a Freeport group on Sept. 13, 1953, a day of historic importance. It was the last day that the Cubs had an all-white roster. They were hosting the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had broken baseball's racial barrier six years previously when they signed Jackie Robinson. I was not aware that the Cubs would add two black players — Ernie Banks and Gene Baker — to their team on the very next day. But it seemed to me even before then that the Cubs would never become serious contenders for National League prominence until they tapped into the pool of talented black players.
Over the six decades that followed that final day of a whites-only roster, the Cubs have been mostly a mediocre outfit. They've had good years and bad, but they never made it to the World Series until last year. Now, they're the defending world champions. They've achieved the impossible. Nothing can top that — not even a repeat performance.
You see, when lovable losers finally win something they hadn't won in the past 108 years, winning it again the very next year is somehow less romantic. It suggests that the team might actually become perennial contenders. That would be nice, I suppose, but I wouldn't know how to act.
Make no mistake, I'll be rooting for the Cubs to take all the marbles again this fall. But nothing will match last year's attainment of the impossible. It's more than unlikely that I'll ever again become that excited over baseball competition.