I don’t remember the first time I went to Wrigley Field, I was so young. My mother told me I was almost born there. About two weeks before she was due, she was at a game that was so exciting; she was jumping up and down and screaming. So it’s no wonder I am a Cubs fan.My grandfather would take me and my siblings, as they got old enough, to Wrigley Field. He was a big man of German/English descent from Iowa. He was also a very good pitcher in college. The White Sox wanted Gramps to pitch for them, but his mother objected because he would have to work on Sunday, so his life took another path. But he still love baseball.
Gramps would take time off work to take me to a Cubs game. Wrigley field did not have lights for night games until sometime in the 1990′s. The stands would be half-empty, because the Cubs didn’t win much, but that was okay with me. I was with the man in my life and he was teaching me all about baseball. He taught me to watch the pitcher and the catcher, how they signaled each other. He taught me how to score a game and to watch the fielders when the pitcher went into the wind up. He told me about the batter’s box and explained the batter’s stance to me. We saw double plays, and the rare triple play together. We saw home runs and he would tell me that Ernie Banks was a good golfer and he could put a low ball out of the park, which he often did. We always stayed until the game was over, the bottom of the ninth, Cubs losing yet again. Then we would walk down the ramps and out of the park to ride the bus or the El back to my grandparent’s apartment. It was always okay because there was another game and like all true Cub fans, “there is always next year”.
As I got to be a teenager, Gramps didn’t go to games as much with us. Being a small business owner required a lot of time at work. But I still went with my siblings and cousins. I saw Kenny Holtzman pitch a no-hitter (and get a horrible sunburn sitting in the bleachers), Jim Savage hit a grandslam homerun, and Ron Santo get spiked by a runner sliding into third base.
I haven’t been to Wrigley Field in years, but I remember the lessons, because they were not about baseball, they were about life. Gramps taught me to look at the details, to look for the little things and to appreciate their importance. To take a moment to enjoy standing at the end of the driveway to look at a full moon at 5 am when I get the newspaper. He taught me to stop and listen to the sound of water running down the mountain side when I’m hiking. He taught me not to give up, to stay until the third out in the bottom of the ninth. But most of all, Gramps taught me to have faith, there is always tomorrow and there is always next year.