Last night the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series game since 1945!
Let me repeat that…last night the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series game since 1945!!!
As I reflect on the win and how much success this Cubs team has had, I can’t help but think of my grandfather, George Spear. If he were still here with us, he would be absolutely giddy right now. The reality of the Cubs actually winning the Pennant after 71 years has given me many opportunities to think about George, and the many memories I have growing up as a Chicago Cubs fan.
I will share a memory/tradition that I love and then share some memories and stories that I have gathered from various family members.
As kids, my brother, Nick, and I went on summer trips to Chicago with our grandparents, George and Charlotte. We always went to a Cubs game or two, and if grandma opted out of the game, George would decide that we should walk to Wrigley rather than taking the L. I didn’t always enjoy the walk when it was hot and humid, but we heard many stories as we made our pilgrimage to the corner of Clark and Addison. I have continued this tradition and still enjoy walking to Wrigley Field. Just this week I realized that I have become my grandfather because I am now the one who “drags” people to Wrigley on foot. Last night, I was asked how far it was to Wrigley form the condo. I replied, “Two miles, maybe two and a half. It’s a nice walk.” As I was writing this I decided to look up online the exact distance and it’s actually 4 miles…oh well, it’s still a nice walk.
Enjoy the memories…
Jeff Spear (NLCS Game 1 at Wrigley Field)
I always said I just wanted to see the Cubs in the World Series but I was not nearly as ‘giddy’ as I thought that I would be after the win Saturday. My first thought was I am going to by to take my boys to a World Series game. My next was of dad never getting that same gift. Looking at the numerous texts and emails I’ve received in the past several days, almost universally they refer to an ‘I wish (insert name) were here to enjoy this, or ‘(insert name) is certainly partying in Heaven.’
Being a Cub fan is a family generational thing that fans of more successful teams cannot totally understand. I just wish mom and dad, El and Mel, Ernie, Ron, Harry Carry, Joe Jording, Red Schroeder and others too numerous to mention could be here to share this.
John Spear (NLCS Game 6 at Wrigley Field)
I was at the game (NLCS Game 6), and I too cried, as did many around me. It was a very important day in my life. My Dad, too, was a Cubs fan, one of the most rabid. We spent summer vacations in the Chicago area, and usually went to 3-4 games in 10 days; I attended the first night game in 1988 and the All-Star game in 1990; and I attended the last playoff games they won in 1984 and in 2003.
Even though he lived and worked 6 hours away from Chicago, Dad got season tickets in 1985 after he was unable to get decent tickets for the playoffs in 1984, and my nephew, owner of the family business has them now. (Dad was the cover picture on the Cubs Vine Line magazine years ago with the caption describing him as the season ticket holder that lived farthest away from Chicago.)
I spent a full 8 hours at Wrigley on Saturday and saw a game that was never in doubt, until the memories of 1969, 2003 and yes, even the Mets last year, came to mind.
My Dad was a senior in high school in 1945 and graduated in the spring of that year, the Cubs last trip to the WS. While waiting to be drafted (an 18 year old farm boy facing the prospect of being in the forefront of the land invasion of the Japanese homeland), he attended just about every Sunday double-header in Wrigley that season (double-headers were one of dozens of forgotten war-time measures to save time, energy, etc.), and of course, he spent the next 68 years chanting the Cubs mantra “Wait until next year.” He died in 2013, never having the opportunity to see a WS game in Wrigley, so being there on the night they won the NL Championship was so very personal and special for me, too, and I could tell from the 99% of the crowd that stayed inside Wrigley for a full hour after that last double-play that I was far from alone.
So although I am optimistic about the next 10 days, for me and for my Dad, playing in the WS will be enough. As Clayton Kershaw said after the game Saturday night, it’s better to compete in a big game and come up short than to watch someone else play instead, and that’s where I am today with my Cubbies!
Dr. Robert “Bob” Spear
My dad was 18 in 1945, loved Andy Pafko…my childhood memory…he swore at radio (July 4th double header in 1973). We were having dinner when the Cards scored in the first without getting ball out of infield, until my mom intervened “George, if you don’t quit swearing I am turning the radio off”.
Painful memory was with dad at Giants playoff game in San Francisco in 1989, and I was always haunted by his pained look as I took off for airport to San Diego… I had to leave early…and looked back at him and saw his distant look of despair.
In 2003…got on 6am flight to Chicago after the Bartman game and ended up going to Gibson’s Steakhouse after the game 7 loss (mom said, “take my ticket, I don’t want to go that much”)…and dad has arm around Mark Prior on the corner outside of Gibson’s telling him it will all work out. Got ball that umpire threw me and signed and dated by Prior.
Loved summer week home-stand where we (3 boys) would go to Wrigley early…7 am…often we would do bleachers in 1969. Dad would do loner and bug Salty Saltwell for better seat…wait til last minute and then get seat behind plate, probably to get him off their back. 7 games in 7 days…in ’71, after winning 4-5 in a row, we went to Pittsburg for 2 games where we stayed at Hilton, I got foul-ball and got it signed by Banks, Williams and Pepitone in the lobby or elevator.
Dr. Franics “Docy” Powers
My maternal grandfather, Dr. Francis “Docy” Powers, is a Cubs fan, so I called him this week to find out when or how he became a Cubs fan. He told me that as a kid, everyone at St. Peter’s school was a Cardinal’s fan and he wasn’t going to just be a follower, but it wasn’t until he was at the University of Illinois at Chicago for Dental School in 1957 that he became a Cubs fan. He would work in the lab at night and listen to WGN and fell in love with the Cubs, even though it “always felt futile” in those years.
George Spear (in his own words):
The Spear family spent many afternoons in Wrigley Field. We started the pilgrimages when my sons were very young – ages 10, 9 & 8…Items needed by my sons were ball gloves and a large radio. The fun of the radio was I carried it into the game. The individual who was off the most in the attendance guess during the 7th Inning Stretch, had to carry it to the train or car. One rule that my guys remembered and followed – “If you are ever lost, go to the Fire Station at the corner of Waveland and Clark.”
After many treats and the game, we usually would go to the player’s parking lot and get autographs. Then we would guess who owned such and such car. Great fun. Most of the tickets were arranged by Charby’s high school friend, and later one of our best friends, Elvin Tappe.
Come to the park early for batting practice. Guys had a blast. Thanks, of course much to Elvin Tappe and Cub’s Vice President, “Salty” Saltwell. Have no exact count on the free Cub Box Seats, over 500, usually all the game I have ever requested.
In 1981, I was accepted as a new member of the Emil Verban Memorial Society. Members are Cubs fans displaced from Illinois who live in the Washington, D.C. area. This Society is by invitation only, no dues, and no initiations. You receive 15 years of publication, photos of Cubs players with fans and bi-annual meetings held at the downtown Marriott in D.C…
…I attended two times alone until Charby found out she was missing a lot of fun and she traveled with me every time thereafter. Guests through the years we have seen are such notables as: Andy Pafko, Harry Carey, Randy Hundley, Joe Pepitone, Ernie Banks, Don Cardwell, “Moose” Moryn, Joe Garigola, Hillary Clinton, Dave Kingman, Bud Selig, and Bill Murray, There are usually about 400 in attendance. Great food, fun – had by all.
All of the above was brought on by Quincyians, Dr. Kirk Kvitle and wife Barbara, dear friends and daughter of our sainted founders Emil and Annetta Verban.