Hey Pop, We Went All The Way!
There aren’t many things that connect people like rooting for a sports team does. It is amazing how for a few precious moments during a crucial game that politics, race, stereotypes, and whathaveyou don’t matter, you can unite for your team and cheer, smile, laugh, and cry. For 30+ years that’s what I got to so with my grandpa, or as my kids liked to call him “Pop”. Like any two people Pop and I didn’t see eye to eye on everything. He was more than able to correct my behavior… I shook my head more than once as he explained his tedious processes to do simple things. Sure enough we could agree on the Cubs.
I remember as a young boy, my first trip to Wrigley Field with him. We sat in the upper deck along the third base line. We ate peanuts, kept score on our score card, and cheered loudly every time Andre “Awesome” Dawson came up to bat. It is still one of my clearest happiest Memories of my child hood. The Cubs won and we got a dollar of sodas at 7-11 or something with our tickets on the way back.
From that moment on every year during baseball season we hemmed on hawed over our Lovable Losers. All the way in Utah, we poured over the standings, read the recaps in the newspaper and caught the games when we could on TV. October baseball just never seemed in the cards for us. He taught me the phrase “Well there is always next year…” I learned how hard those words are to say some years like they were in 2003 but he was there to say them with me.
2003 was also the year I was able to return the favor, you see that was the year I got to take him to see his last game at Wrigley. We sat up in the upper deck along the third base line like we had some 25 years before, we ate peanuts, kept score, and cheered loudly every time “Slammin” Sammy Sosa came up to bat. The Cubs lost that game, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way we would remember it. We both knew that was the last time he’d be there even though we’d never say it.
In 2009 he passed away, my kids were too young to understand the connection I had with Pop over this little team that played baseball 1000 miles away from where he and lived. I didn’t talk much at his funeral but I did crack the joke that “I guess you really can live your whole life and not see the Cubs go all the way”… I knew he’d appreciate that, even if others didn’t get it.
So here I am 108 years after the Cubs won their last World Series, the last two years my kids have started to get into it, and we have begun to share some of the traditions of “Cubdom”. Last night as I sat at home watching our team do something Pop never saw, it hit me their experience will be totally different. They get to start something new. It is something I don’t quite know how to grasp. I can tell you this I wish more than anything I could hug my grandpa right now, and say:
Hey Pop, we went all the way!