I have a distinct memory of a summer when I was in elementary school—I think it was the summer between third and fourth grade, but I can’t be sure on that. We drove from my hometown in southeastern Minnesota to the suburbs of Chicago for a family reunion on my mother’s side. I was a shy kid—I didn’t really like meeting new people, let alone hanging out alone with people I hardly knew. My parents knew that about me, but this one time, they didn’t care. They left my sister and I with some of my mom’s aunts and uncles (who I’d met but didn’t know) along with a bunch of distant cousins around my age and went to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game.
I was so mad at them, but it wasn’t just because they left me with near-strangers (at least in my eyes). They went to a baseball game without me. I brought up my feelings of betrayal for years. To this day, I’ve still never been to Wrigley for a game—that was the one chance I was in the area and maybe could have gone, and I haven’t been back since. I think they got me a shirt, but that’s not the same thing.
You hear stories of the memories that kids have of growing up—if Mom was a dance teacher, the kid may have grown up in dance studios, for example. My dad was a baseball guy, a former player and forever fan. By the time I was born, he had stopped playing on the amateur team in town, but he was still on the board for most of my childhood. He had to work the concession stand and was at games the whole summer. So I went with. I counted out the pennies that kids brought to buy candy and I collected foul balls and paid out quarters to the kids who retrieved them. I could keep a scorebook before I could read, my parents tell me. I was the only kid I knew who remembered the position numbers, that the shortstop was position six, even though he stood between the second baseman (4) and the third baseman (5). I was a baseball kid. I remember some things so clearly about it, and I always smile.
Baseball is one of the staples of my life, along with softball, the acceptable female counterpart. I played as soon as I was old enough, and only stopped after junior year of high school when I realized my talent didn’t live up to my love of the game. (There was also a crappy coach involved, but I don’t want to get negative today.) Once I stopped playing, I started following my Minnesota Twins more regularly. That branched into other teams that held special places in my heart, like the Boston Red Sox during their 2007 World Series run. Whenever I could, I always rooted for the Cubs, I don’t really know why. The underdog team was just special to me, but they never got as far as I would have hoped.
Flash forward to the fall of 2012. I had been on two dates with my now-husband when he invited me over to his apartment to watch the first game of the World Series—the San Francisco Giants against the Detroit Tigers. As a lifelong Twins fan, I had to root against the Tigers. It’s ingrained in me. H took the opposite view—the Tigers are in the same division as the Twins, so he had to root for them. It was during this first show of friendly competition between us, this bonding over baseball at its finest, that I knew there was something special there.
Like I said, I’m a baseball kid.
Now, we don’t watch a lot of TV. I followed the playoff runs on Twitter and Facebook, but I didn’t watch anything until I heard the Cubs were going to the World Series. The Cubs! Going to the World Series! So H and I turned on Game 1 and watched, and it went from there. I fell in love with this year’s Cubs, with the smiles and how they genuinely seemed to enjoy baseball. No offense to the Indians—I’m sure they did too. But I was focused on the Cubs, because how could I not be?
And then they won. The Cubs won the World Series.
I was live-tweeting through the second half of Game 7, and it amazed me how many people were watching the game as it unfolded. People who were avid Cubs fans already were tweeting along with baseball newbies, with fans of other teams, with people who don’t usually care but were watching last night. The Cubs hadn’t won the World Series since 1908. There was a rain delay. There was an extra inning. It was incredible to be a part of. The country came together watching that game, no matter which team they were rooting for. And that is what baseball is all about.
To many future Game 7s, folks. And of course, YEAH CUBBIES!!