Monday, April 12, 2010

Cubs Opening Day 1980

The last time I went to an Cubs Opener with my dad, was in 1980. They were loosing to the Mets, going into the bottom of the 9th. I snapped this image... of a sign in the Right Field Bleachers. The Cubs went on to lose 2-0. During the summer, my dad took ill and for the last 30 days of his life... he was in a coma at the St.Francis Hospital in Evanston. I was visiting him, when he came out of the coma for just a few seconds... when he spoke for the last time. In a very low whisper he said "WE GOTTA GET RID OF KINGMAN!" and died about a week later. Hank, was my Cubs Rabbi, and gave me a crash course in Baseball 101, and Cubs History in the summer of 1945. Then he took me to my first game at beautiful Wrigley Field. I was 8 years old. When the Cubs clinched the National League Pennant... I asked him to take me to the World Series. He felt I was too young, however he made me a PROMISE, he would take me the next time! I heard the expression "WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR" for the fist time in 1946. About that time, the first televisions appeared in Taverns in our neighborhood. He took me to my first Opener in 1947. A month later, my brother Allen and I was on hand along with over 47,000 other fans for Jackie Robinson's Chicago debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Baseball was the "Official"language around our kitchen table. When my father heard that I was sneaking into Stiner's Tavern, and sat on the bar's footrail to watch sports... he went out and bought the firstTV, in Albany Park, that was not in a tavern. And for the next 30 plus years we had great discusions about the players of his era and mine. Over the years, I got use to hearing him yell, at the ballpark or at the tube... especially when he disliked someone. Looking back... he hated Dave Kingman, the most! He would say "He be shit! That guys strikes out every time they need a run, and homers when the Cubs were down by double digits! Today was Opening Day for the 2010 Cubs season. In recent years, I have only gone to a few games in the regular season... and also a few of their post-season fiascos. Today, I did not want to see the Opener, and the new additions of images and advertising on their outside walls. For many years... I always felt young when taking in a game, because the ballpark hardly changed. The beginning end of my youthful feelings came about shortly after the Tribune Company purchased the Cubs in 1981. The had a catchy slogan...Building a new Tradition. Sadly, the forgot to tell us the fans, it came at the expense of many of the old traditions... that gave the ballpark it's nickname...The Friendly Confines. Years ago, you could not tell a millionair from a bum in the stands... but that all changed with the advent of Lights in 1988 and yuppies talking about Dow-Jones Averages, instead of earn run averages talking on cell phones and wearing ties and Rolex's in the bleachers. Frankly, one yuppie is too many, for any ballpark! It's hard for me to enjoy a gamenow-a-days... when I was a kid, a hot dog was a dime, a coke was a nickle, a score card was 10 cents and a cheap seat was cheap... to buy a ticket at face value on the day of a game is harder to find than weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! I miss my dad and his insights of being a fan in changing times. At least he was able to go to games in the great depression... today, you almost have to file for bankruptcy to go to a couple of games a year. I get a daily reminder about my dad, because he has replaced me in the mirror every morning. Harry Caray used to say" YOU CAN'T BEAT FUN AT THE OLD BALLPARK" to which I add, as long as you can afford it! Silent Cheers...

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