The Boston Red Sox could just watch as the Cubs extinguished their own curse, but for this fan, it was something very, very special.
Since this is a Boston Red Sox site, I am a wee bit out of bounds, but after the decades of disappointment, pain, headache and broken furniture that resulted from following the Red Sox that has – in the words spoken in Field of Dreams: “Eased his pain” with the unforgettable 2004. And now the baseball circle has been closed, with the Chicago Cub s winning a dramatic Game Seven.
A tradition existed when I was just starting to follow baseball and that was you had a National (or American) League team to root for besides your favorite. A team in the other league. Originally I was a Braves fan and my very first baseball game was at Braves Field in 1952 where I saw Eddie Matthews hit a home run. The Braves soon left me an orphan, so it was the Cubs.
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Now any normal fan would have simply followed the Braves and pledged their allegiance to them. I did, but the Cubs took precedent and some of it had to do with just certain players I followed. For those of you firmly entrenched in the electronic age, you must understand that information about baseball was a valued possession.
The proverbial “Back in the day” you had as your primary and virtually only source the most prominent of baseball magazines and that was “The Sporting News” or “Baseball Bible.” You also had monthlies such as Sport and Dell Magazine and the Baseball Digest. No quick tapping of keys to retrieve a volume of information. Dell would have a yearly edition that highlighted many players personal achievements for the season and I still have a few.
My Favorite Year is an underrated Broadway musical that centers on 1954, but for me, 1954 was the year I became a Cubs fan. Blame it on The Sporting News. I followed the box score adventures of a fading Ralph Kiner and Hank Sauer. The sudden influx of a young Ernie Banks and even the antics of a pedestrian catcher – Joe Garagiola.
Eventually, I managed the pilgrimage to Wrigley Field when no one really cared. This was 1969 and 1970 when Chicago would be the occasional business stop and I could go and see the Cubs – all daylight games then.
For the last week I had my 50-year-old Cubs jacket out and on a recent trip to Boston I got plenty of nods and wish you well. My wife and I stopped at the Parker House for dinner. No reservations so no entry until the Cubs jacket was noted and we got seated. A sympathy gesture?
This year the Cubs were loaded and every issue was addressed quickly with getting, even more, players to solidify the shot at that ultimate goal. A magnificent journey for Theo Epstein in building such a commendable team. That makes Epstein 2-0 versus curses and a legacy that will be difficult to match.
Cleveland does have some aspect attached that Red Sox fans can use to motivate some degree of anti-Cleveland sentiment. They did beat the Braves in the 1948 World Series and prior to that, they defeated the Red Sox in a one-game playoff.
Terry Francona also has some emotional attachment since he was the on-field director of curse removal for the Red Sox. If the Cubs had been shoved aside, I would have rooted for Tito and his Cleveland team, but they were facing the Cubs. Too bad, Tito!
The ideal situation would have been a hundred year’s matchup between the Cubs and Red Sox – a repeat of 1918. Maybe next year? Both the Cubs and Red Sox are loaded with talent, money, possessed fans, iconic ballparks and a pipeline of young talent. So, again, maybe next year?