The Cubs won five pennants in his lifetime, but only one after he turned 12, and the last time they played in a World Series he was in China, not yet mustered out of the Army Air Corps in World War II.
Family legend says he had a hard time in September 1969, which may explain why he was so sanguine during the 1984 season, a summer of giddiness that ended with a fall in in San Diego. He didn’t talk much baseball after that. In fact, only 62 days after the Padres completed their comeback, my grandfather passed away. Little did he know what was then a 76-year wait between championships would plod on, and on, and on, for another 32.
My grandfather made me a Cubs fan, too. I loved him unconditionally, and he loved the Cubs unconditionally, and like any other little boy I followed Grandpa’s lead. And, to hear him talk about the Cubs, how could I not?
He told stories, wonderful stories. About running to Wrigley Field after school to catch the 3:00 games. About watching Gabby Hartnett and Joe McCarthy. About how, during the Depression, a kid could get free admission to the bleachers by bringing back enough batting practice baseballs hit on to Waveland Avenue.
My Cubs fandom ended when my Brewers switched from the American League to that National in 1994. After that, they weren’t “Loveable Losers,” they were divisional rivals, and as much as I love Wrigley Field, the choice was easy. Milwaukee’s where I’m from.
That doesn’t mean I’m not happy for my many friends who are Cubs fans, and for Cubs fans in general. But what makes me happiest is remembering my Grandpa, how much he loved the Cubs, how dearly I wish he was here to enjoy a night like this, and how much I hope he knows the unbelievable has happened: The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.