News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

June 30, 2014

LIZ CIANCONE: Oldtime fans will never give up on the Cubbies

TERRE HAUTE — My Best Friend claims to be the world’s oldest living Cubs fan. I am willing to take him at his word, but surely there is some long-lived fan out there in the right field bleachers who would dispute his claim.

I agree that few fans, older or younger, can beat his long devotion to the team. His Dad and his Uncle Henry were devout Cubs fans, so my BF and his cousin, Sam, provided the excuse for their male parents to haul them out of a family gathering to see a ball game at Wrigley Field.

My BF was four years old at his first Cubs game, or maybe it’s just the first Cubs game he remembers. But thereafter memories have come fast and lingered. Uncle Henry was known to fling his straw hat onto the field following a Cubs victory. He lost a lot of straw hats and having to keep buying new ones did not recommend the practice to Aunt Esther. Still, I don’t believe she ever missed Ladies Day at Wrigley.

On one of our first dates, my BF took me to an early spring game at Wrigley. It was cold. It snowed. I married him anyway.

I’ve heard his stories about Stan Hack and Phil Cavaretta. Ernie Banks was, and is, one of his favorites. Banks’ enthusiasm for the game matches that of my BF and they both nod approval when Banks shouts, “It’s a beautiful day in Chicago! Let’s play two!”

I’ve cheered for Ferguson Jenkins and Ron Santo and still feel a pang of sorrow that Santo was not voted into the Hall of Fame until after his death. His enthusiasm for the game and for the Cubs had no equal.

I’ve listened to Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. It was Caray who liked to spell the names of the players backward and then try to pronounce them. He also introduced the custom of singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” when the Cubs picked up their bats in the seventh inning.

We bought tickets for Cubs Care a couple of times and still laugh about the fan who carried his beer as he strolled around the infield on the “sacred” grass. He spilled his beer and got down on his knees and tried to scrape it back into the cup. He was afraid it would kill the grass.

Someone asked me the other day whether I had given up on the Cubbies. No, not yet. As someone once said, “Anyone can have a bad century!”

I can’t claim as many years following the Cubs as my BF, but time’s a’wastin’ and we’d like to see a World Series game in Wrigley.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.

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