Cubs for Breakfast

Cumann Daorchluiche Cubs na Chicago

Monday, January 17, 2005

Old News and Intangibles

There isn’t any new news, there are no updated numbers, and Spring Training has only drawn closer incrementally. It’s at times like these when the old, reliable “intangibles” of fandom come into play. Like the memories of old games gone by …..


In 1973, I skipped school to go to opening day at Wrigley Field with my friend Vincent. We were 10 and a half years old and we took the El to Addison Street from the terminus of what is now called the Purple Line at Linden Avenue in Wilmette. I don’t remember the game very well because Vince and I were in kid adventure mode rather than serious baseball watching mode. We certainly did not get our pencils and scorecards ready when Pat Piper suggested it over the PA.

Although this wasn’t my first Cubs game (that was in 1969, when I was still a little too young to appreciate the drama going on around me), it was the first without my Dad. So I remember the adventures we got up to, as we moved from the left field bleachers, to center field, and on over to right field.

Looking at the box score from, I am amazed to see that so many of my favorite players, like Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert, were still on the team as late as ’73. Rick Monday is one player who I certainly remember from that day, because it was my first exposure to Ronnie Woo Woo, who, stationed high in the center field bleachers, riffed on “Monday Woo” all day. That is a sound that bores into the deepest recesses of one’s consciousness, so that 30 years later it remains in the mind as clear as a (rusty, cracked, out of tune, incredibly repetitive) bell. (Back then, he was just some guy in street clothes, and not wearing a Cubs Halloween costume). While I was busy getting up to crazy hi jinx like smoking a cigarette for the first time from a discarded pack of Kools, and finding myself starting to notice girls, something that had never really happened before that day of total freedom, heroes like Ron Santo were going 2-for-3 with an RBI while Fergie Jenkins went eight innings against the Expos, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits. Creatures like Tony LaRussa were entering the game as pinch runners for Santo, and legendary umps like Dick Stello were patrolling the bases. I remember Vince, tough as his name, in the thick of a pile up of teen-agers and even bigger people, fighting over a batting practice home run ball in the left field bleachers, but I don’t remember LaRussa scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a walk by Expos reliever Mike Marshall. For me that day, it was not the scorecard that mattered, but rather the “intangibles”.