A Memorial Day Story - Those Poor Cubs Fans
Today, I am reminded of this day back in 1979, and offer my favorite Memorial Day story.
A native southern Californian, I was enjoying a sports fan’s cross-country trek in the month of May before taking up residence in the Great Northwest.
I was able to take in pairs of games at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, and on the Monday before Memorial Day (which is Victoria Day, north of the border) I saw the Expos play the Pirates at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in the afternoon, and that evening I witnessed the Canadiens winning the Stanley Cup at home against the New York Rangers.
The early part of the ’79 season was marked by an umpires’ strike, anticipation for the summer’s All-Star Game here in Seattle, the Red Sox trying to recover emotionally from their season-ending collapse the previous year, and the announcement by future Hall of Famer (and league-leading hitter, as of Memorial Day) Lou Brock, that this was going to be his last season.
I spent the 1979 Memorial Day weekend visiting friends near Chicago. I caught a Sunday double-header at old Comiskey Park. On Memorial Day itself I enjoyed a lazy day with an old neighbor and her husband, who invited several of their friends over for some backyard beer and horseshoes, beer and croquet, beer and barbecue.
Half a dozen of us retreated indoors to watch their beloved Cubs play on TV that evening.
The quietest guy in the room, the only one wearing a Cubs cap, seemed the most intent on watching the game, contributing little to the ballgame banter we were enjoying.
During a lull in the conversation in the middle innings, I brightly thought I’d show my keen grasp of the game’s current affairs by asking rhetorically, “Hey, have you seen who’s leading the National League in hitting?”.
The room became eerily silent. I had that uneasy feeling of sensing I had said exactly the wrong thing, without knowing what it was.
After too long a pause, something told me I had said the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place.
Finally, the quiet guy with the Cubs cap dropped his chin dejectedly to his chest, slowly shook his head and, remembering the worst trade in Baseball history, sadly responded, “Ernie Bleeping Broglio”.
And it was at that exact moment that I realized that Cubs fans are different from, and have suffered more than, the rest of us.
There’s no question about it.